Transcribe Audio to Text

By: Sarah Doar

transcribe audio to text


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The professional world has become more remote, leading to a rising demand for audio transcription. More businesses are choosing to transcribe audio to text due to the increasing amount of audio content being produced. Whether it’s recordings from conference calls, HR interviews, Zoom meetings or even podcasts, all businesses can benefit from transcribing audio.

Choosing to transcribe audio files to text increases the likelihood that your audience will retain the information you’re sharing. Research has shown that visual memory is stronger than auditory memory. Plus, audio transcription provides a handy document that is easier to reference at a moment’s notice than an audio file.

Businesses who require audio transcription still face the challenge of figuring out how they are going to produce the transcripts. While some businesses opt for in-house transcription, it’s often far more efficient to outsource this task. However, before you decide whether or not to work with a professional transcription service, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of audio description. For instance, how is audio to text transcribed? Is it possible to transcribe audio manually? What about automatic dictation software? Here is everything you need to know about how to transcribe audio files.

Transcription Audio to Text Table of Contents

What is audio transcription?

To put it plainly, audio transcription is when a person either uses software to transcribe audio to text or transcribes it manually by listening to the audio themselves.

Audio transcription covers webinars, interviews, court proceedings, meetings and more. No matter what you’re transcribing, audio transcription refers to the process of converting an auditory experience to a written version.

Audio transcription falls into three categories: verbatim, intelligent and edited. Which type of transcription is best for you depends on the needs of your business. If you need a word for word transcript in order to have an accurate record of a conversation, then verbatim transcription is your best choice. However, if you prefer your audio transcription to be slightly edited, then intelligent or edited transcription would be a better option. 

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of each type of transcription to better understand how to convert audio files to text.

What are the different types of audio transcription?

Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim audio transcription refers to both verbal and nonverbal components of an audio recording. With verbatim transcription, transcribers reproduce everything in the audio recording to create a text version of the content.  Aside from the essence of the message, every factor recorded in the audio or video—from shifts in breathing, emotion and tone, to the interruptions in speech and background noise—is included in the final written document. 

Verbatim transcription also includes the use of markers, known as tags, that contextualize the audio. For example, the transcriber may have to indicate when someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks loudly or softly. Even  noises, such as a phone ringing, a knock on the door, or something falling on the ground will make it into the final transcript. 

transcribe audio to text from laptop sound to notebook

Intelligent Transcription

Intelligent transcription is just as accurate as a verbatim transcription. However intelligent transcription is lightly edited and may have the tags and markers removed since there is no need to contextualize the audio setting. Nevertheless, intelligent transcription is still literal and will streamline the written record better making it easier for readers to understand. 

Edited Transcription

Edited transcription is done in a more simplistic writing style. The transcript is simplified by making changes such as removing hesitations that don’t add anything to the understanding of the content. Edited transcription also corrects grammar errors, in contrast to other types of transcription. The main purpose of edited transcription is to present the transcribed content for general consumption as written text. If you’re publishing the transcript as an article or website post  to give people who didn’t attend a live event access to the material in a written format, an edited transcription is your best option.

How to transcribe audio to text

There are two different ways to transcribe audio to text: manually and automatically. When considering how to transcribe audio, it is worthwhile to consider the option that produces the most accurate transcriptions in a convenient turnaround time. 

Manual transcription

Manually transcribing audio is possible, but not recommended. If you choose to transcribe audio files to text manually, be advised that doing so can be tedious, time consuming and lead to a higher rate of error. 

Manual transcription involves utilizing highly-trained individuals, rather than technology, to create a transcript. These professional transcribers are skilled, know how to convert audio or video to text efficiently and will produce accurate transcripts. 

However, it is becoming more and more difficult to find individuals who know how to transcribe audio manually. There’s a growing shortage of transcribers available on the market. With fewer individuals available to service transcripts, costs can also be high. Those who need transcripts may pay premiums to receive rush jobs or to fulfill specific requirements, such as addressing customization needs and longer audio files.

man talking on laptop

Automatic transcription

Automatic transcription uses AI technology to quickly transcribe audio to text automatically. When you choose to auto transcribe audio to text you are relying on automatic speech recognition (ASR) tools that reduce turnaround time in comparison with manual transcription from weeks to mere days. However, although ASR is a solution that’s improving with AI, it is still unable to produce accurate results on its own in many settings because of poor audio quality, indecipherable accents and background noise. For highly accurate transcripts with the quick turnaround time of automated transcription, it is recommended to enlist the help of a transcription partner. Transcription companies, like Verbit, take advantage of both ASR’s speed and efficiency while also using human transcriptionists to meet high accuracy standards. 

How can I transcribe an audio file to text?

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind if you are interested in learning how to transcribe audio to text for your business.

  • Choose a reliable partner: Researching how to transcribe an audio file in the most convenient way leads most businesses to choose to partner with a professional transcription company. Not only do transcription companies have a faster turnaround time when it comes to delivering transcripts, but they are also the most trustworthy way to ensure transcription accuracy.
  • Keep on eye out for accuracy: Transcription accuracy is the term used to describe the margin of error in a transcription. Ideally, transcripts should be able to reach up to 99% targeted accuracy to support requirements laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). High accuracy not only results in a high quality transcript but also provides equity for individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing. These individuals often rely on transcripts in lieu of recorded audio. 
  • Use AI together with human editors: AI technology helps cut down on the time it takes to transcribe audio recording to text. However, because AI is still not always one hundred percent reliable, a human component is still needed in order to check for mistakes. Transcription companies like Verbit use both AI and human editors to ensure that the final transcript is high quality and supports the ADA’s standards.

Is there an easy way to transcribe audio?

Choosing AI-powered automatic transcription is considered the easiest, most straightforward way to transcribe audio to text. Software that uses artificial intelligence learns how to transcribe an audio recording better with each use. Over time, the software can identify a speaker’s voice and differentiate between multiple voices. It can even pick up on quick cadences and nuances as well. 

online meeting about how to transcribe audio to text

Is there a program that will transcribe audio to text?

Audio transcription has become a valuable and convenient tool for creating records of meetings, events or webinars. While some corporations may choose to transcribe audio themselves, many Fortune 500 companies prefer to turn to professional audio transcription services to receive the most reliable transcripts possible. 

A transcription company like Verbit is unique in that it provides professionals, students and media outlets the dual power of artificial and human intelligence. Reach out to us today to learn more about audio transcription tools as well as our other solutions for businesses like audio description, closed captioning and real time captioning.