The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Online Transcription
Back to articles

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Online Transcription

Online transcription – the conversion of audio and video files to written documents using a service like Verbal Ink – is fast and efficient. It's also surprisingly inexpensive, given the quality and expertise that human transcriptionists provide. But when should you use it?

Well, here's an example: Your work as an academic requires you to give a PowerPoint presentation next week in New Orleans about the education conference you just attended in New York; but, in the meantime, your sister's getting married in New Hampshire. There's not enough time to transcribe your recording of the conference and put together the presentation before your sister's wedding, never mind that you still haven't written that heart-warming speech you need to make as her maid of honor. No, escaping from it all and heading to New Zealand is not an option. But, no worries. It's online transcription to the rescue. Or consider this scenario: You're planning to hold a conference call with a particularly prickly colleague who works off-site. You're dreading it – he's the one who blamed you when a scheduled meeting went askew but who conveniently didn't recall that he said to arrange it for the 5th at 4 p.m., not the 4th at 5 p.m. This time, you want to head off any confusion, but how? Two words: online transcription.

If you're still not convinced, here's another potential situation: Your twice-extended deadline for submitting your dissertation outline to your advisor is fast approaching. You've conducted the necessary preliminary research but haven't converted all of the recorded interviews into written words needed before you complete the outline. There's no chance for another extension, but the solution is easy-peasy. Yes, you guessed it: online transcription.

Got Online Transcription?

In addition to recorded conferences or seminars, multi-person conference calls, and interviews, online transcription services can be used to transcribe just about anything, from companies' confidential focus group discussions and ministers' sermons to physicians' reports and, even, concealed device and wiretap recordings.
With today's global and digital business environment constantly changing (see, it just changed again!) and business transactions that are expected, even demanded, to become ever faster, the value of transcription is steadily increasing. Online transcription services have become essential to medical and legal professionals, freeing up their time to perform their multitude of duties. Professors can use the services as a teaching aid, providing copies of lectures and class discussions to students. Ministers can reach a larger number of parishioners by distributing transcripts of their sermons. Modern journalists, stretched thin by the addition of blogging duties and social network responsibilities from tweeting to posting articles on Facebook, can benefit as well with the transcription of interviews with sources.

How It Works

With all this need for up-to-date information as fast as possible, it's good to know that the online transcription process is quick and easy. Here's how it works. At Verbal Ink, open a secure account by filling out the online account form, providing your name, address, phone number, and email address. Then, at any time on any day, simply upload the audio or video files you would like to have transcribed. You'll be assigned an Account Executive who will contact you by email or phone before the transcript is started to sort out any questions or concerns. The transcriptionist selected for your project will send the completed transcription in the form of a Word document to your Account Executive, who will inspect it to be sure it meets company standards and then email it to you by your deadline. Only then will you be charged for the service.

And, have no fear, if you have an analog recording, such as an audio cassette or microcassette, it can easily be transcribed. Just mail it to Verbal Ink, which will then digitize the recording, transcribe it, and email it back to you in the form of a Word document. The process is seemingly faster than you can say online transcription, perhaps even faster. You can request standard transcriptions, which are "near verbatim" with all those "uhs," "errs," and "ums" removed; but, if for some reason you need every stutter and stammer included, then that can be done, like, you know, as well.

The Transcriptionists

The transcriptionists at online transcription companies are people, very smart people who can understand nuances of language better than any voice recognition software. In addition, all of Verbal Ink's transcriptionists for English language projects are based in the United States – meaning that they know the low talker with the Boston accent was talking about her "car keys" rather than her "khakis."

Verbal Ink has a team of close to 200 transcriptionists with a variety of specialties. Its medical transcriptionists are real-live medical professionals who specialize in pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology, podiatry, rheumatology, neurology, psychology, organ transplantation, orthopedics, and biotechnology. Its legal transcriptionists are certified court reporters, legal secretaries, paralegals, and lawyers with expertise in medical malpractice, workers' compensation, corporate law, and personal injury, among other areas. In other words, they know their business.

Fun Facts

In fact, here are some intriguing online transcription fun facts: Quality transcriptionists can transcribe one hour of an audio recording in about three or four hours compared to the six hours it takes the average person. Every member of Verbal Ink's transcription team has undergone a criminal background check and is bound by confidentiality agreements. Verbal Ink's transcriptionists can differentiate among more than 20 distinct voices in one audio recording.

What Will It Cost?

Now that we've established who can use an online transcription service, why it should be used, and how to use it, what's left? Ah, yes, the cost. But you knew that was coming. Fortunately, the cost is reasonable: Verbal Ink's costs start at just $1.50 per minute. The cost per minute rises according to the number of speakers on a recording, turnaround times, and optional features like verbatim transcription, inclusion of time stamps, and foreign language transcription.

Summing Up the Service

A variety of people use online transcription services: The academic researcher who is focused on the minutest of details. The scientist who needs his laboratory work written in an easy-to-read style. The manager who wants to be able to concentrate more on the meeting as it's happening. But if you're hesitant about taking the plunge into the world of online transcription, take a look at this quotation from a happy Verbal Ink customer: "Submitting transcripts is easy, turnaround is amazing, and accuracy and clarity of the final transcripts are spectacular." Well said, happy customer, well said.