6 Tips on How to Order Transcription Services Efficiently

What details to include in your transcription project brief?

It’s important to know how you intend to use your transcripts; more important still is to let your transcription service provider know.

Depending on the ways you intend to use the transcripts of your recordings, there are a number of ways to order transcription services.

Your orders may differ in terms of transcription style, whether you need time stamps or not, whether you would like to have your custom templates incorporated, etc.

While “please convert these recordings into text” may do for most orders, most people have specific requirements which can be included in the brief or instruction or Order Forms.

Let’s have a look at the number of things you may include when ordering transcription services.

Things to include when ordering transcription services

  1. Total length of the recordings you have (especially for one-time orders).  This is useful as it makes quoting price and rates very easy.
  2. Specify your turn around time/deadline, if you have one.  Very important to set your expectation generally.
  3. Templates and samples, if available, and other resources and references that may aid in getting accurate information on the transcript
  4. Whether to include time stamps or not
  5. What the writing style should be (verbatim, clean read, modified verbatim)
  6. You may also include your choice of language (US English, UK English, Australian English, etc)

The above six are essential when placing a transcription service order.  Below are some more additional info you can include.

  • What software to use (MS Word or WordPerfect)
  • Audio or video format (MP3 is most common format.  Large files can be a problem when sharing files. Unless video is absolutely necessary, we recommend converting your videos to MP3 BEFORE sending them to us for transcription.)
  • How you intend to use the transcript (in your brief or instruction form) only if you believe it will help us get the result you desire.

As you may know by now, what you include or exclude in your transcript really depends on how you plan on using your transcripts.

Transcription Service Project Brief Sample

Here is a sample transcription project brief that you can use over and over again.  In the tradition of productivity, copy and  paste this in a document and save your document as a template (Save as .dot format).

Hi TranscriptionPro/Carey,

I’ve heard great things about your transcription service and would like to place an order.

By the way, we’re a media company that interviews at least 50 persons in a month.

I have a 100-minute interview recording (audio) that I need transcribed within the next 5 days.  Please use MS Word.

I’m uploading, along with the audio, one of my previous interview transcript documents that you please use as a standard template for all my interviews.  Also included is a list of names and places.  Please visit  www.example-reference-website.com or Wiki to verify names and dates mentioned in the interview.

Please use Male 1, Male 2, Female 1, Female 2 as speaker IDs.  I don’t need timestamps.

I will be publishing this transcript right on my website so please use intelligent verbatim and UK English.

Please confirm you can meet my requirements and deadline.

Thank you.

Your Name

How to Order Transcription: Dictations

Professionals who dictate letters, memo, reports etc. may need “clean-read” style and print-ready transcripts.  That is to say, your letters and memos should be transcribed in such a way that they are ready to be sent out to the intended recipients, and not transcribed verbatim.

Usually, professional firms also have branded templates which are customized with individual’s details such as phone numbers, titles, address, etc. You should therefore provided such templates to your transcription provider when ordering transcription services.  Law firms and real estate surveyors firms usually require same day or next day turnaround time.

In short, when ordering dictation transcription services include:

  • Transcribe in clean-read style.  That is, slightly edited to make grammatical corrections, form proper sentences, and should be print-ready as well.
  • Provide your templates and samples, if available.
  • Expected time around time.

How to Order Transcription : Interviews and Focus groups 

When ordering transcription service for interviews and focus groups you may want a modified verbatim style of transcription.  A transcription where every word is transcribed however removing all the verbal ticks like uhm, ahh, misspeak and incomplete thoughts, etc.  and ignoring other non-verbal sounds.  You may also specify how to identify the participants in the interview or focus groups.  Identification can be Person 1, Person 2; Speaker 1 and Speaker 2, Last Name, etc.

In short, when ordering interview or focus group transcription services include:

  • Transcribe in verbatim/intelligent verbatim style.  Remove verbal ticks; keep repetitions, ignore stammers, etc. Keep sentences and grammar as is.
  • Provide your templates and samples, if available.
  • Expected time around time.

How to Order Transcription: Videos

Mainly you order video transcription services because:

  1. you want the transcript just so you can read and distribute it to other
  2. you need the transcript to edit the video, and
  3. you need the transcript as a subtitle to accompany the video

In case of (1), you may order the transcription anyway you want.  However in (2) and (3) you will need time stamps.  And in (3) you will have to specific that you need the transcript as a subtitle and should be formatted as such.

It is wise and helpful to disclose how you intend to use your transcripts to your transcription provider.  Knowing how you intend to use the transcripts, how you want the transcripts done and when should always be included in your transcription orders.  

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