Verbatim transcripts provide an unabridged, word-for-word account of the audio, including every utterance, including ums, ahs, stuttering, false starts, etc. They also include non-verbal sounds, such as laughter, coughing, crying, pounding, ambient sounds, etc.
Clean Copy transcripts are lightly edited to remove filler words, false starts, repeated words, etc. For transcripts that are intended to be published, such as podcasts, video transcription, and online training, or any time readability is preferred over an exact account of every word, Clean Copy is usually the best choice.
However, if the transcript is being used for legal or insurance purposes, Verbatim is more appropriate. For example, in a recorded deposition, it’s important to capture every utterance as they provide information that is important to ascertaining the emotional state of the speaker as well as the context in which the words were spoken. More detail is provided below about the differences between Verbatim and Clean Copy transcriptions.
Ordering Verbatim Transcriptions
By default, Speechpad provides Clean Copy transcriptions. If you would rather receive Verbatim, please specify that when ordering by entering the word “Verbatim” in the transcriber instructions (the link below the Submit button). There is an additional charge of $0.25/audio minute for Verbatim transcriptions.
Filler words are sounds or words in oral conversation that do not add any meaning, but rather are uttered when the speaker is pausing to think, but wishes to maintain continuity with what will be said next. These include words and phrases such as: um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, I mean, and you know. These words are normally edited out of a Clean Copy transcript, but are faithfully recorded in Verbatim transcripts. For example:
Laughter, sneezing, coughing, throat clearing, crying, sniffling, and gasping are all examples of non-verbal utterances that would typically be edited out of Clean Copy, but are included in Verbatim. These sounds are indicated with square brackets. For example: [laughs], [clears throat], [crying]. They are inserted in the text at the point where the sound begins. For example:
False Starts and Incomplete Words
False starts are sentences that are prematurely terminated. For example: “She, uh, she asked me to leave.” In this case, “She, uh,” is a false start that would normally be edited out of Clean Copy, but is included in Verbatim. Incomplete words are ones that are partially spoken, but cut off by the speaker. In Clean Copy, they are either written in full or omitted entirely, depending on the context. In Verbatim, only the part of the word that is spoken is written, followed by a dash to show that it was cut off. The following example illustrates the handling of false starts and incomplete words.
Stutters and Repeated Words
Stutters and repeated words are omitted in Clean Copy, but retained in Verbatim transcripts. Stutters are written like this “sh-sh-sh-she” and repeated words are separated by commas: “I, I went home.” No more than three repeats are written, even if more were spoken. For example:
As Originally Spoken
Pauses and Silence
With Clean Copy, silence is only notated if it is abnormally long (more than 1 minute). With Verbatim, the threshold is much lower. Any pause in speech longer than 10 seconds is indicated with [pause], which can appear mid-sentence or at the beginning of a sentence. Short pauses (3 to 10 seconds) are indicated using ellipses. The following example shows both long pauses and short ones.
Q. Are photographers doing their job when they take your picture?
A. I don’t know if that’s a statement or a question.
Q: It’s a question, sir.
Q: …Can you answer my question?
ATTY: Justin, do you need a break?
Q: He already
ATTY: He’s just thinking.
A: [pause] Sorry, this is just frustrating. I’ve never had to go through anything like this… Ask the same questions over and over again in a different manner. It’s just, I’m n-, not used to it. [pause] Guess what? Guess what? I don’t recall.
Trailed Off Sentences
Ellipses are used at the end of a sentence that trails off before it ends. This happens often in interviews or conversational speech in general. For example, a speaker may trail off when he or she is uncertain or experiences an abrupt suspension of thought:
Trail-offs also occur when one speaker prompts another to complete a sentence. For example:
When more than one person is speaking at the same time, Clean Copy transcripts will provide a more readable version, eliminating the overtalk. On the other hand, Verbatim transcripts will show the exact location where one person’s speech was interrupted by another. Ellipses are used after the last word spoken in a sentence before the speaker was interrupted. The remainder of the sentence is truncated, and the interrupting speech is shown next. Then, the remainder of the first speaker’s sentence is shown, with preceding ellipses. For example:
In Verbatim, slang words like ‘cuz, ’em, ’til, y’all, gonna and goin’ are always typed exactly as spoken. This is usually the case with Clean Copy as well, but in some cases, substitutions may be made for clarity (e.g. “cuz” may be written as “because”).
Affirmation and Negation Utterances
Sometimes, speakers might use words like “uh-huh” or “nuh-uh” instead of saying “yes” or “no.” This can get tricky to transcribe, because the sounds are very similar and difference between an affirmative and negative response may only be a letter or two. Here’s how we spell out these utterances:
The following sample audio file was transcribed by Speechpad in both Verbatim and Clean Copy format, to give you an idea of the difference between the two. In either case, when you order Speechpad Transcriptions, you’ll receive an email with the transcript, and you’ll also be able to download at any time it from our website as a text file or a Microsoft Word document.