What is Verbatim Transcription? Verbatim Transcription Definition

A verbatim transcript captures every single word from an audio file in text, exactly the same way those words were originally spoken. When someone requests a verbatim transcription, they are looking for a transcript that includes filler words, false starts, grammatical errors, and other verbal cues that provide helpful context and set the scene of the scenario that was recorded.


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What’s the difference between verbatim and non-verbatim transcription?

There are two main types of transcriptions, verbatim and non-verbatim. Verbatim is where a transcriptionist types all of the words they hear including certain non-speech sounds, interjections or signs of active listening, filler words, false starts, self-corrections, and stutters. This type of transcript requires a ton of extra time and attention to detail and for this reason, costs a little bit extra.

Non-verbatim transcription, on the other hand, is cleaned up to remove filler words, stammers, and anything that takes away from the core message of what’s being said. This type of transcript is the most common and should be lightly edited by the transcriptionist for readability.

Here’s an example of two actual sentences transcribed non-verbatim and verbatim and compared side-by-side:

Example 1
Non-verbatim: I think we should go to the movies tonight because of the discount.
Verbatim: And so, um, I guess… I think we should go to the, the m- m- movies tonight ‘cause of the discount (laughs).

Example 2
Non-verbatim: I called her yesterday and she was sleeping. Probably, she was just really tired.
Verbatim: I like, you know, called her, like, yesterday and, um, like, she was, like, sleeping. Probably, she was just like, really tired.

When is verbatim transcription useful?

Verbatim transcripts provide helpful context that a cleaned-up transcript doesn’t offer. Because true verbatim transcripts include non-speech sounds like “mm-hmm (affirmative)” or “mm-mm (negative)” they are especially useful when conducting a focus group, quoting a source or requesting a legal transcription.

In most cases, these words aren’t necessary, but there are many instances when they provide helpful verbal cues such as in audio files of police interrogations where these types of verbal pauses might provide insight into a person’s demeanor.

Verbatim transcriptions should be used when:

  • Directly quoting a source
  • Conducting a focus group
  • Interpreting interviews from a research study
  • Preparing legal documents
  • Delivering a legal statement

Which transcription service should you use?

One might think that a transcript is, well, a transcript — a written record of recorded audio. But that oversimplifies a bit. Depending on the type of transcript a customer orders, there will be some variations in the format and level of detail delivered by a transcriptionist. Timestamps, an instant first draft, rush delivery, and verbatim transcription are all among the add-ons a customer might request. Transcripts support a variety of different projects and depending on the cope of that project, you’ll want to make sure you’re ordering the right add-ons. Learn more about our transcription services and determine which offering is right for you.