28 Oct 2020 Danielle Chazen
5min read

Verbatim Transcription

What is verbatim transcription?

Verbatim transcription is a word-for-word transcription of a recording or a live proceeding. These can be a interview, deposition, witness testimony and more. Verbatim transcripts capture the exact spoken word, including pauses, stutters and other noises. In transcribing legal  proceedings or court proceedings, verbatim is the standard for the highest level of accurate speech transcription. Non-Verbatim transcription is best applied when used for general meetings or speaker presentations for example. However, with non-verbatim, filler words and background noises are not transcribed.
Verbatim Transcription

What are the different types of verbatim transcription in terms of how “full” they are?

Within Verbatim transcription, there are essentially two ways to transcribe. Full verbatim captures the spoken word exactly as stated, including fillers words, stutters and false starts.  Clean verbatim on the other hand captures words exactly as stated, but editing is conducted. Clean verbatim corrects for filler words, repeated words and stutters. It essentially transcribes  words exactly, but for improved readability.

Preferences for verbatim transcription can vary. For example, some court reporting agencies who are managing proceedings and capturing records, want clean verbatim when transcribing attorney or court statements. They don’t want false starts, stutters and other ‘irrelevant’ bits. However, they want full verbatim when witnesses or deponents speak in order to capture the exact statement as spoken. Full verbatim leaves little room to dispute what was said, how it was said and additional indicators which can help to inform decisions and next steps in various cases. 

A verbatim transcription example:
Q: At what time did you arrive at the hospital?
A: Hmm, I think it was around eleven at night, or so.
Clean Verbatim: I think it was around eleven at night, or so.

What are the case users of verbatim transcription?

In legal, both verbatim and clean verbatim are used. These include legal proceedings, which require a detailed and exacting standard for transcripts, as every word counts. Standards for legal court reporting have developed over the years to meet court or state guidelines and style guides. Fundamentally, a witness statement, interview, deposition or testimony are all evidence in a case. Editing witness statements, or deponent answers for grammar for example, eliminate the necessary as spoken words, including utterances, that are essential to discovery and cases. 

Interviews are another regular use case for verbatim transcription to be used. Depending on the type of interview, such as a police witness interview, verbatim may be used. However, in a more general interview, such as one done in media or for news and business, the text is often edited slightly. Transcribing an interview for example, for a news report, needs to be readable, and it is important to edit for grammar for example, and remove utterances to help viewers and listeners fully understand what was said. Having transcriptions of interviews can help the media to also avoid lawsuits should someone claim they never said something which airs on a broadcast. Verbatim transcripts can help to give interviewers peace of mind and a true record to cover themselves should they be on beats which are more controversial in nature or interviewing noteworthy subjects.

Additionally, research is another clear area which relies on verbatim transcription. In research, professionals are most likely using edited text transcription for readability. Researchers often use full verbatim transcription and and non verbatim transcription though depending on the nature of the research. Medical research often needs word for word verbatim transcripts, whereas media research may be better off providing clean verbatim transcription of findings.
Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription software

With a shortage of professionals, such as trained stenographers, available to service these transcripts, many industries are turning to transcription software to generate admissible records. For example, court reporters and legal agencies are utilizing software that captures the audio and video of proceedings and then utilizing Artificial Intelligence based tools, such as automatic speech recognition, or ASR, to generate the transcripts.

These AI tools are mature and advanced enough to capture verbatim transcription. They also help to remove manual work and effort with the options to set interview transcript format and style guides to account for their individual needs. Timestamps and speaker identification are some tools Verbit offers for example to also help these professionals and remove manual effort. When selecting a verbatim transcription service, it’s important to make sure you can customize the tools to your workflow and needs to minimize the effort you’ll need to put in after the transcript is generated.

Transcriptions provide professionals with security

With more calls, proceedings and meetings happening virtually, digitally and remotely, more transcription software will continue to be used. These digital tools help digital court reporters, media companies and legal agencies to better serve their clients, take on more business and scale, rather than encounter backlogs of work due to current restrictions.

At the end of the day, regardless of industry, all professionals who handle sensitive information, client meetings and high-profile interviews should be capturing the record and transcribing it in order to have a backup to reference what was said or agreed to. Additionally, many of today’s digital transcription tools are built on secure networks to ensure confidentiality remains the highest priority to serve legal and compliance needs.