If you have audio or video to transcribe, there are a few different ways to get the job done. Check out this step-by-step guide to the most popular methods.

Transcribe Audio To Text

Learning to transcribe audio to text can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if this is your first time doing it. However, some industry tricks can make the process incredibly easier. In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits and challenges you can expect and how you can manage audio to text transcription using some of the best tools available.

Benefits Of Audio To Text Transcription

There are dozens of benefits to using video content and audio transcriptions. Here are some of the top reasons professionals prefer transcripts in addition to other modes of documentation.

Transcripts Save Time

Can you imagine if every time you Googled a question, your only options were to listen to audio files or watch a video? Instead of the usual 30 seconds you spend skimming a simple article for the answers you need, you’d have to set aside 30 minutes to get to the part of the audio or video that’s relevant to your question!

Transcribing audio to text saves an incredible amount of time for that reason. Humans can read a transcript faster than they can listen to one, making searching for relevant information a breeze—especially for professionals who need to recall conversations efficiently.

Plus, you can use the search and find feature on your computer to pin down words and phrases with impressive efficiency.

Transcripts Clarify Meaning

Another convenient benefit of audio to text transcription is that it can provide clarity around spoken words. Humans tend to use a lot of “filler words” like “ums” and “uhs,” we start and stop a thought in the middle of a sentence, and we’re generally not very good at expressing ourselves perfectly on the first try.

When speaking in person, it’s easy to use context and body language to pick up on the point, even if someone is less than articulate. But when you listen back to an audio recording, the main idea may be lost without additional clarification.

To ensure the point is crystal clear, many people use intelligent transcription [when verbatim transcription isn’t necessary]. If the meaning of what is said is more important than the actual words used, then intelligent transcription can clear things up in a flash by removing filler words and other distractions.

Transcripts Increase Accessibility

Finally, transcribing audio to text makes audio and video files more accessible for everyone. Not everyone can listen to audio, including people with hearing impairments, so transcripts can be used to create subtitle files and closed captions to increase accessibility. Transcription files provide a written record that anyone can understand, regardless of their ability to listen to the audio or video file.

Transcripts Boost SEO

Bonus benefit—video subtitles or podcast transcripts also help reach a larger audience through SEO since search engines can’t understand spoken words on audio, it’s a win-win!

Challenges Of Audio To Text Transcription

Transcribing audio to text can be a painstaking process—especially if you’re trying to do it yourself. Here are a few challenges with transcribing audio to text that you should consider before diving in.

Learning To Transcribe Your Own Audio To Text Is Time Consuming

The first challenge is that it takes time—a lot of time—if you’re doing it yourself. Transcribing just one or two hours of audio can kill half a workday, especially if you’re not a pro. If you’re in a profession where time is money, you risk jeopardizing your efficiency and losing out on billable hours.

Some Transcription Options Don’t Guarantee Accuracy

Then there’s the matter of accuracy. Even if you try to save a little bit of extra time by using speech-to-text software, you’re likely to get a lot of errors. This might be good enough for some purposes, but if you’re transcribing audio files for a professional purpose, even minor errors can change the meaning of what was said.

Be sure to read the rest of the post in its entirety so you can learn how to overcome these transcription challenges.

When You Need To Transcribe Audio To Text, There Are 3 Options

If you have an audio or video file you need to transcribe, there are a few different ways you can go about it. Here are some of the most popular methods:

Manual Transcription [Do It Yourself]

This is by far the most tedious method of transcription. Some people prefer manual transcription because they think it saves money. After all, you only need a good set of ears, a computer, and a set of typing fingers. But there’s a hidden cost when managing transcription on your own—your time.

Automatic Transcription Software

If you are okay with spending a little bit of money, various automatic transcription services can generate transcriptions in a matter of minutes. Some services even offer an in-app transcription editor or real-time capture options to make the process easier. Automatic speech recognition software can save you a lot of time, but this transcript option also decreases the likelihood of getting perfectly accurate transcripts.

Human Audio to Text Transcription Services

This is the best option if you’re looking for speed and a high level of accuracy. Human transcription services use real people to listen to your audio files and type out what they hear. This is the most reliable method compared to automatic transcription software or DIY transcription.

How To Transcribe Audio To Text Yourself: The DIY Audio Transcription Process

If you’re on a tight budget and have extra time, you could try transcribing the audio yourself. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Prepare the workspace for optimal efficiency.

First, you need to find a place to sit down and focus on the task at hand. Transcribing audio requires concentration, so it’s essential to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

You’ll need to start by ensuring you can easily access your audio file and transcription document without having to switch tabs and lose your place. Split your screen or set up dual monitors if necessary.

Develop a shorthand to save time.

As you start typing, you’ll notice that you frequently repeat words like names, locations, and events. So come up with a shorthand reference to avoid typing the same thing repeatedly and do a simple find and replace during the editing process.

Listen, type, rewind, repeat.

Slow down the playback speed on your audio clips for the most accurate audio transcriptions. Be sure to pause and rewind as frequently as needed to ensure you get the best results. This is the most time-consuming part, but don’t be tempted to skimp on putting in the time required to get it done right—you may not get the accuracy you need if you do.

Edit and proofread your work.

Once you’re done transcribing, it’s time to go back and proofread your work. Give the audio another listen as you follow along with the document you created, and make sure you captured everything accurately.

Format your transcription and export your file.

If you’re creating a document that requires special formatting, this is the time to do it. Consider elements like timestamps, margins, and headers. Depending on where you’ll be using your file, you may need to save it in specific file formats. Exporting as a PDF is always a safe bet, but you might also need to create an HTML or Word document.

Affordable DIY Tools To Help Transcribe Audio To Text

Google Speech-to-Text

One of the most popular options is Google Speech-to-Text, which uses speech recognition technology to generate transcriptions. Anyone with a Google account can use this tool, and it’s pretty accurate, making it an excellent option for personal use. In addition, all customers get 60 free minutes of transcription per month, so if you only have a little bit of transcription work every month, this could be a cost-effective option.

Google Keyboard

If you don’t feel like typing everything yourself, you could use the Gboard app to do it for you. Grab a pair of headphones, listen to the audio, and dictate what you hear into the microphone. Just be sure to note you’ll have to go back and edit, so set aside extra time for that.

Transcribe With Microsoft Word

If you’re a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you have a built-in self-service transcription tool at your fingertips. Like Gboard, you’ll have to dictate the audio as you listen, and you’ll likely need to do some post-dictation cleanup on the document.

Put a Professional Polish On Your Doc With Grammarly

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned grammar and spelling check to help you with your transcription. Grammarly will catch unintentional errors and suggest how to fix them so your document can look and sound professional.

Using A.I. Transcription Software To Transcribe Audio To Text

If you’re not interested in transcribing the document yourself or dictating while you listen, then an A.I. transcription service might be a better option.

Pick a software that suits the purpose of your transcription.

There are a lot of different A.I. services to choose from, so do your research before you commit to one. For example, if you need general notes, you can choose a less expensive option like Otter. On the other hand, if you’re transcribing an interview for work, you might want something with more features like Rev.

Make sure your audio quality is pristine for the best results.

Machine learning is only as good as the data it’s given, so if your audio quality is poor, then the transcription will be too. Make sure you’re in a quiet room with no background noise, and use a high-quality microphone for the best results.

Take advantage of any extra built-in features.

Some of these software options offer more than just transcription services. Otter, for example, also provides speaker identification so you can see who said what in your document. This can be helpful if you’re transcribing an interview or meeting where multiple people are speaking.

Don’t expect 100% accuracy—it’s more like 90%.

Even the best A.I. services aren’t perfect, so don’t expect your transcription to be either. There will likely be errors that you’ll need to go back and fix, but overall it should be reasonably accurate.

Set aside extra time to proofread, edit, and format.

Once you have your transcription, it’s time to edit. Read through the document and make any necessary changes. You might also want to format it to make it more readable or add any special characters that were missed in the transcription.

Finding Human Transcription Services

If you’re using your transcriptions in a professional context, consider hiring a human transcription service. Not only is it just as affordable as A.I. software, but it’s also the most accurate transcription service option.

Select a service that employs real humans to get the job done.

While some services use a hybrid model of speech-to-text and human transcriptionists, it’s best to use a service that relies on professional transcribers from start to finish. This is especially true if your audio includes background noise, multiple speakers, or accented speakers, as these variables can confound the quality of your transcription if left in the hands of A.I.

Upload your file to the platform.

Once you’ve found a service you like, upload your file to the company’s website or app. The audio length will determine how long it takes to get back your transcription—some services can return your audio in as little as 3 hours.

Customize your template and instructions as needed.

Most human transcription services will allow you to transcribe your audio verbatim or edit it for clarity (known as edited or intelligent transcription). You can also request various formatting options (i.e., time stamps, speaker names, etc.) If you work in an industry with standardized formatting requirements, such as law enforcement or legal services, your transcriptionist will format the document according to those standards.

Voila—stunningly accurate, perfectly formatted documents ready to use.

Then it’s time to sit back and relax while your transcription is created. No need to set aside extra time for editing and formatting when you use a human transcriber—it’ll be ready to use as soon as you receive it.

Get Started With Human Transcription Services For FREE

Typing up all of your own transcriptions can really eat into your team’s time and resources. But don’t take our word for it—check out this Time and Cost Calculator to see how much you could be saving for yourself by leaving transcription to the experts.

Human transcription services are the way to go if you want the fastest, most accurate transcription possible. Take advantage of a free trial with SpeakWrite and see how you can start streamlining your workflow with professional transcription services today.