How to Transcribe Notes

Things You'll Need

  • Cassette recorder
  • Headphones
  • Word processor

Some professions, including medical transcription, secretarial work, and court or news reporting, require transcription skills and fast and efficient typing. Students may also have to transcribe interviews and conversations for reports and papers. Transcribing involves listening to a conversation and typing out what the person has said. Typing and listening skills are necessary for getting a transcription job done.

Summarize the conversation. If you interviewed a person, you want to work on the summary as soon as possible afterwards. Write down anything you remember from the conversation.

Listen to the recording. Write down any key themes or stories, or questions that were asked. Make sure to write these in chronological order.

Tyoe the conversation as is. Don’t try to change an interviewee's word choices or grammar. This will take away from the authenticity of the interview.

Pause the recording every so often. By pausing, you can think back on what you've already heard and write down any general key points. You can also rewind to repeat any passages you misunderstood or couldn’t hear.

Leave out phrases such as “um” or “uh”. This could make for clumsy reading within your report. Only use words and phrases that best convey the conversation.

Use proper line spacing, paragraphs, quotation marks and lower case and upper case letters. Format the report as you would any professional work. If you asked to provide the transcript for any reason, you'll be able to do so quickly, without having to go back and work on it further.

Place activities into brackets. If the phone rings, type, [phone rings]. If there are unintelligible parts of the conversation, add [??] or [unclear].

Use dashes for pauses, interruptions and incomplete sentences.

Go over the report with the interviewee. They can help you to clarify any words, names, places and other information. The interviewee can also give you the go-ahead to use the report.

Transcribing can take between 4 to 10 hours to complete. Plan accordingly. Don’t let other people have access to the interview or transcription since it could include sensitive information such as a patient's medical history, names or personal financial information.