Verbatim Transcription: What Is It & How Does It Work?

A total guide to verbatim transcription; learn differences between verbatim and non-verbatim, how to get a verbatim transcript, & why every word matters.

Did you know that most people only recall about 20% of the specific ideas and facts expressed in a conversation? While this may work fine for everyday exchanges, some situations require far more precision. 

That’s where verbatim transcription comes in. 

Used in everything from legal testimonies to corporate meetings, a verbatim transcript is essential if you require an exact textual reflection of audio recordings. 

Here’s what you need to know about verbatim transcription. 

What Is Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription captures every single word uttered in a recording or live event—including fillers (like “um” and “uh”), false starts, repetitions, and other noises. While it might seem excessive, its attention to detail is precisely why it’s invaluable.

The strength of a verbatim transcript lies in its detail and accuracy, making it useful in any scenario where the exact replication of spoken words and their nuances is crucial. 

Legal Proceedings 

Court hearings, depositions, witness testimonies, and other legal processes require an exact record of what was said. This includes hesitations or emotional cues that can hint at a speaker’s credibility or state of mind, making verbatim transcription the perfect fit. 

Corporate Meetings 

Do you remember every word spoken in a meeting? Neither do we. Verbatim business transcription services are especially useful when discussing contracts, mergers, or other significant decisions where every word could have financial or legal implications. 

Accessibility Services 

Providing detailed transcripts for individuals with hearing impairments ensures they don’t miss out on any part of a conversation, including emotional context.

Verbatim vs. Non-Verbatim: What's the Difference?

The choice between verbatim and non-verbatim transcription can significantly influence the outcome and usability of the final text. To better understand the nuances and distinctions between these two types, check out this comparison chart: 


Verbatim Transcription

Non-Verbatim Transcription


Includes every word, utterance, filler, and stutter in the recording

Paraphrases or summarizes the content instead of transcribing word-for-word


Captures the tone, emphasis, and emotion of the speakers

Leaves out fillers, stutters, and other repetitive language


Offers a high degree of accuracy and detail. Captures the full depth of the content. 

Provides enough original content to give you an understanding of the content. 

Duration & Cost

Takes longer to transcribe. May be more expensive than a non-verbatim transcript

Generally quicker and less expensive than a verbatim transcript

Verbatim transcription includes everything. 

Something transcribed verbatim includes every word, utterance, filler, and stutter present in a recording. It doesn’t merely represent the spoken words; it captures the speakers’ tone, emphasis, and emotion, providing a high degree of accuracy and detail. 

You might require this kind of precision if you’re in a field such as: 

  • Law enforcement 
  • Legal services
  • Corporate sales 
  • Financial sector 
  • Insurance adjustment 

Non-verbatim transcription omits the mess-ups and distractions. 

Non-verbatim transcription, otherwise called edited transcription or intelligent transcription, offers a cleaner version by omitting the common mishaps and distractions found in speech. 

Rather than transcribing word-for-word, it paraphrases or summarizes the content, leaving out fillers, stutters, and other repetitive language. 

This approach provides a streamlined overview of the content, often resulting in a quicker and more cost-effective process than verbatim transcription. However, a trade-off exists, as it might not capture the original content’s full meaning or intricate nuances.

What Is An Example Of Verbatim Transcription?

Transcribing text word for word might preserve its accuracy, but be prepared to weed through a whole lot of filler language along the way. 

True Verbatim Transcription 

True verbatim transcription captures every hesitation, filler word, repetition, and even laughter. It’s a genuine representation of the spoken content, preserving the original rhythm and flow of conversation.

Here’s an example of true verbatim transcription: 

Interviewer: “So, um, can you, uh, tell us about… uh, your experience with, um, the event?”

Respondent: “Oh, yeah, sure. Well, I – you know – it was, like, really amazing? I mean, I was… um, a bit hesitant at first, uh-huh, but then, uh, I really got into it. And the people there were just… umm, so welcoming. There was this one time, um, where – laughs – it was just so funny, you know?”

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

In intelligent verbatim transcription, the essence and meaning of the spoken content are preserved but without redundancies. Fillers, stutters, and repetitive words are often omitted, making the content more concise and easier to read while retaining its core message.

Here’s an example of intelligent verbatim transcription:

Interviewer: “Can you tell us about your experience with the event?”

Respondent: “Yeah, sure. It was really amazing. I was hesitant at first, but then I really got into it. The people were so welcoming. There was this one time where it was just so funny.”

How To Write A Verbatim Transcription In 4 Steps

1.    Prepare your equipment.

First, get yourself a great pair of headphones. A pair of noise-canceling headphones can work wonders, helping you catch even the faintest whispers or subtle nuances in speech.

Opt for software that offers user-friendly controls. Features to look out for include adjustable playback speed, easy rewinding, and the capability to add timestamps. Tools like Express Scribe or oTranscribe are popular choices.

2.    Start listening and typing.

Remember, when writing a transcription, you’re not just capturing words; you’re capturing the essence of the conversation. Every “uh,” “um,” and pause tells a story.

Non-verbal cues are important to include as well because they provide context. For example, *laughs* might indicate a light-hearted remark, while sighs could reveal frustration or exhaustion. Always use consistent indicators, such as italics or asterisks, to denote these cues.

Make it easy for readers to follow the conversation by starting a new line for each speaker. Clearly label each participant, whether it’s “John,”” Speaker 1, “or “Witness.”

3.    Punctuation is your friend.

Even in a detailed verbatim transcript, punctuation helps convey tone and meaning. A question mark can denote confusion or curiosity, while periods and commas can mirror the speaker’s rhythm and pacing. Always prioritize clarity.

4.    Review, review, and review some more.

Play the recording back and read along with your transcript. Listen for missed words, sounds, or misinterpretations. Beyond ensuring accuracy against the audio, check your transcript for common typographical errors, missing punctuation, or inconsistent formatting.

Whether you’re using italics for non-verbal cues, bolding speaker names, or adding timestamps, consistency makes your transcript more professional and easier to follow.

The Benefits of Verbatim Transcription


Accuracy is especially important in fields like law, where a single word can change the outcome of a case. Transcription software might miss nuances, interpret words incorrectly, or omit fillers that could imply hesitation or uncertainty—details that human transcribers capture.

Emotional Context

Non-verbal cues, like a sigh or a pause, provide essential emotional context. In a court of law or during an internal corporate investigation, understanding the speaker’s state of mind can be pivotal.

Evidentiary Importance

For law enforcement, a verbatim transcription of an interview can play a crucial role in investigations and court proceedings. Missing details can jeopardize a case.


Professionals often deal with sensitive information. Entrusting this information to human transcriptionists bound by non-disclosure agreements ensures an added layer of data security, as opposed to automated services that may store data.

3 Types of Verbatim Transcription

1.    True Verbatim

True verbatim captures every sound, word, filler, repetition, interruption, and non-verbal cue. It’s commonly used for legal proceedings, research interviews, and psychological studies.

2.    Clean Verbatim (Intelligent Verbatim)

Clean verbatim or intelligent verbatim omits fillers like “uh,” “um,” stutters, and other non-essential words. It’s ideal for corporate meetings, journalism, and most general transcription needs.

3.    Legal Transcription

Legal transcription is a specialized service for legal proceedings, depositions, hearings, and more. It can be done in true or clean verbatim style based on the requirement.

How To Choose A Verbatim Transcription Service Provider

First, look for providers with experience in transcription services and a track record of successful projects. Check if the provider has experience transcribing content in your specific industry or field. 

Then, ensure the provider uses reliable and accurate transcription methods and tools, such as speech recognition software and human editors. 

Next, Verify that the provider has measures in place to ensure the security and confidentiality of your data and content. Compare pricing and turnaround times among different service providers to find one that fits your budget and timeline.

Finally, read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge the quality of the provider’s work.

Popular Verbatim Transcription Software

When choosing a service or software, it’s essential to consider factors like the purpose of the transcription, budget constraints, the clarity of the recording, and the desired turnaround time. 

It’s also beneficial to see if they offer features like speaker identification, timestamping, and support for different languages.

SpeakWrite: Human Transcription

SpeakWrite transcribes audio dictations, interviews, phone calls, videos, virtual meetings, PDFs, and more. Because their work is done by qualified transcriptionists, not AI, your returned documents will be 99-100% accurate. They also offer the best business transcription services around. 

Express Scribe: Automatic Transcription

A professional audio player software for PCs or Macs designed to assist in the transcription of audio recordings. It offers foot pedal support and can play a wide variety of audio file formats.

OTranscribe: Manual Transcription

A free, web-based app that allows you to play back the audio directly in your browser, thus eliminating the need to toggle between a media player and your word processor.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking: Speech To Text

While primarily a voice recognition software, it can be used for transcription purposes. It converts spoken words into written text. However, it requires a clear audio source and might not be as accurate with multiple speakers.

Sonix: Automatic Transcription

An online platform that combines automated and human transcription services, allowing for improved accuracy with faster turnaround times.

Tips for Ensuring Accurate Verbatim Transcription Results

  • Use high-quality audio recordings that are clear and free of background noise or interference
  • Identify and label each speaker in the recording when possible
  • Provide the transcription service provider with any technical terms, jargon, or acronyms used in the recording
  • Set clear expectations and guidelines for the transcription services, including the desired level of detail, formatting, and turnaround time
  • Establish a glossary of key terms and phrases to ensure consistency throughout the transcription process
  • Consider hiring a bilingual transcriptionist if the recording is in a language other than English
  • Request that the transcriptionist proofreads and edits the transcript to ensure accuracy and clarity
  • Provide feedback to the transcriptionist to help improve future transcription projects.

Verbatim Transcription: Frequently Asked Questions

How is verbatim transcription different from other transcription types?

While standard transcription focuses on capturing the essence of the content, verbatim transcription captures every single detail. Clean verbatim omits fillers and stutters for readability, while true verbatim captures everything.

How can I ensure the accuracy of a verbatim transcript?

Hiring experienced transcriptionists, providing clear audio without background noise, and reviewing the completed transcript against the original audio are essential steps to ensure accuracy.

Does verbatim transcription include non-verbal cues?

In true verbatim transcription, non-verbal cues like laughter, sighs, or pauses are included. These cues can be essential in understanding the emotional context of the conversation.

Can software provide true verbatim transcription?

While there are advanced transcription software options available, they might not always capture the nuances, fillers, and non-verbal cues as accurately as a trained human transcriptionist would.

 How long does it take to get a verbatim transcript?

The time can vary based on the quality of the audio, the expertise of the transcriptionist, and the length of the recording. SpeakWrite offers a three-hour turnaround time. 

Get Started With Verbatim Transcription

With decades of experience under our belt, SpeakWrite transforms the challenge of verbatim transcription into an opportunity for professionals like you. Whether you need the raw, unfiltered essence of a conversation or a streamlined, clear transcript, we’ve got you covered. 

Our verbatim transcription services are designed precisely, ensuring nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Experience the SpeakWrite difference, and don’t let a single word go unnoticed—place your order today. 

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