Steps for Writing a Verbatim Report
The word "verbatim" refers to using the exact same words, word for word. A verbatim report refers to an account that records everything that was said during a conversation in the exact wording that was used at the time. The most known usage of verbatim writing is done in court, by the stenographer who records everything said. Verbatim reports are used as personal accounts of what was said at the time and place.
The format for a verbatim report dictates that the writer not use the full name except in the introduction and that he separates all speeches by a blank line. Divide the formatting into three columns (from left to right): what was said, who said it and personal comments.
Provide the date that the conversation happened. Provide context for the encounter, the location of the encounter, the parties involved (identify here by name and by initials later) and the relationship between the speakers. Give the information needed for the reader to understand what the speakers are discussing and why. Keep it brief.
Writing a verbatim is much easier when the conversation is somehow recorded. In this case, just sit down and begin transcribing what was said. If typing from memory, it may help to jot down key words that will help sequence the conversation by what is remembered. If working from memory, it is expected that the exact words may not be 100 percent correct, but do the best that memory allows. Put each speech section in its own paragraph. Identify speakers by initials. Place nonverbal communication (relevant body language), silences and exchanges you can't remember in brackets.
In the right column, provide any comments or reflections on what the speakers have said. Since a verbatim report is often a personal account, provide personal expressions on how the conversation made you feel or, when appropriate, interpretations on what the other people involved may have been thinking.
For more professional and nonpersonal verbatim reports, exclude the personal comments section and instead provide more relevant information there, such as job title or business function for professional reports.
Jess Kroll has been writing since 2005. He has contributed to "Hawaii Independent," "Honolulu Weekly" and "News Drops," as well as numerous websites. His prose, poetry and essays have been published in numerous journals and literary magazines. Kroll holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing from the University of San Francisco.