Transcription Guide for Clients

Verbatim Versus Non-Verbatim

  • Verbatim means, uh, um, false starts, repetition of words.
    • As part of providing a verbatim transcript, words such as wanna gotta, gonna are transcribed as heard unless otherwise directed by Client.
  • Non-verbatim means the elimination of above.

Affirmation from Interviewer/Facilitator

Below is a sampling of acknowledgements.

  • Hmm, hmm
  • Hmm
  • Uh-huh
  • Yes
  • Yeah
  • Yep
  • Right
  • Okay
  • Alright
  • Sure

Of note: As part of dialoguing, it’s natural to acknowledge comments. The interjection of ‘Hmm, hmm’ or ‘Hmm’, etcetera, breaks up the flow of the conversation.

Recommendation: Include the interviewer/facilitator comments in the participant/respondent’s response with the notation of [   ].

For example: Yeah. We, we would, uh, sort of, raise…we, we would usually let them know [Yeah] of the medical responsibility, the legal responsibility [Hmm, hmm] rather than physician responsibility [Right].

Outcome: Continuous flow of conversation, interjections are noted, and the transcript is shorter in length.


  • … at the beginning of the audio means the conversation began mid-sentence. This usually happens when the recorder is not turned on before the conversation begins.
  • We use … when the person has changed their thought process within their sentence.
  • If a person interrupts the other person’s thought, we use … at the point the person was interrupted.Of note: There are no spaces before or after the ellipsis.

Time Codes

Of note: The first 00 reflects the hours. The second 00 reflects the minutes. The third 00 reflects the seconds.

The use of time codes directs the reader to the section of the transcript to be checked.

  • _____ [00:00:00] is used should any part(s) of an audio be indistinct.
  • Word(s) are bolded to indicate uncertainty. xxxx [00:00:00]
  • Time codes are placed at the right-hand side of each page to assist the review of specific portion(s) in the transcript.
  • At the end of the transcript, the audio time is reported as, for example, [23.14 minutes].

Line Numbers

  • In addition to time codes on each page, line numbers can be a valuable tool to help with identifying areas in a transcript. This is placed on the left-hand side of the page.

Of note: Line numbers can be consecutive or restart on each page.

Transcript Identification

  • The title of the audio recording is how the transcript is labeled.
  • The title of the audio is at the top of the first page, centered, 14 font, Bold. Style: To be determined by Client.
  • Footer will be the title of the audio, date, or any other information pertinent on the transcript.
  • Of note: Footer is 10 font.
  • The style of the transcript is unlimited.
    • Arial, 12 font, Justification Full, are preferred choices of transcript style.
    • When importing the transcript, for instance, into NVivo program for analysis, the following styles/font are used: Times New Roman or Calibri, 12 font, with Justification Left.
    • Page numbers are shown on lower right hand corner of page.
  • Below are examples on how documents can be saved:
    • Interview with xxxx (date) – Client Name/Interview with Code – Client Name
    • xxxx Meeting (date) – Client Name
    • Focus Group xxxx (date) – Client Name/Focus Group xxxx – Client Name
    • xxxx Speech – Client Name/xxxx – Client Name


Of note:      The notation is stated in the same line of the person speaking.

  • [Laughs] When the person speaking laughs.
  • [Chuckles] When the person speaking chuckles.
  • [Both laugh] When both participants laugh.
  • [Everyone laughs] When multiple participants laugh.
  • [Code laughs] To identify the interviewee/participant laughing.
  • [Crosstalk] When two or more people speak at the same time.
  • [Sighs] [Coughs] [Clears throat] [Sneezes] [Cell phone rings] [Door opens] [Alarm rings] [Clock chimes] [Background discussion] [Paper shuffling] [Multitasking interview dialogue with emails/phone interruptions] [Intercom/Individual interruption]; all of these are put within the sentence of the person who is speaking.
  • There are numerous ways to spell names. Indication by [ph] is used. For example, Smyth [ph]; this is the abbreviated form for ‘phonetic’.
  • Should non-identification of an individual be requested, [Name] is used.


  • Google is used to verify spelling and terminology.

Background Materials Provided By Client

Required for Interviews/Focus Groups/Meeting/Seminars/Workshops:

  • Acronyms
  • Agenda
  • Background history
  • Buzz Words
  • Glossary
  • Interview Guide
  • List of Questions
  • Objectives
  • Outcomes
  • Participant List
  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Special Instructions
  • Subject
  • Synopsis

Style Layout

The most commonly used formatting are below:


I: xxxx

P: xxxx


MS: xxxx

MP: xxxx


F:    xxxx

R:    xxxx




Male Participant:


  • Another suggestion is to italicize and/or bold the interviewer/facilitator’s dialogue.

Of note:   Below are suggested identification markers:

    • FP = Female Participant, MP = Male Participant
    • P = Participant
    • R = Respondent
    • I = Interviewer
    • F = Facilitator
    • FS = Female Speaker, MS = Male Speaker
    • M = Moderator
  • Initials can also be used to identify interviewer(s) and interviewee(s). For example, MB for Maureen Bayer.
  • Where there are multiple participants, such as in focus group/conferences/workshops/seminars, it can be difficult to identify who is speaking. We suggest the use of MP/FP or P/R unless the participant identifies themselves. Identifying P1, P2, MP1, FP2, or P1, R2 is not a recommended due to the possibility of misidentifying a participant. 

Pauses in Dialogue

  • Pauses of 5 seconds and longer are shown as [Long pause].

Password Protection for Transcripts

  • Usually five (5) to (8) characters in length and is case sensitive.  

FTP Secured Site

  • As a secure site, the Host, Username and Password are given verbally.

Assignment Estimate

  • Upon request, an estimate can be provided.  

Confidentiality Agreement

  • Upon request, a Confidentiality Agreement can be provided