Audio or video transcription. Do you need it?

Audio or video transcription. Do you need it?

Tatiana Osoblivaia




“Trust what you see. Not what you hear.”

What is transcription of an audio or video recording?
Transcription is a high-skill process that involves listening to a recording, researching the subject, understanding the context and typing it accurately into text. The transcript can be an exact word for word document (verbatim) or the transcriptionist can clean up certain parts of the speech. When done right, the process can take a lot of time.

How do you transcribe a video/audio?
Transcription work is performed by a trained transcriber. The method used will depend on the intended use. If time-codes are not added then specialist software is not needed. In such a case any trained audio typist can produce the transcription. If the transcript is being created from a video for voice-over or subtitles translation, then the transcriber will need the right software and training. Transcription for subtitling work is much more time intensive as the time-codes must be logged in hours: minutes: seconds: frames. The transcriber will need to allow enough time for the viewer to read each “subtitle” on screen.

How long does it take and which factors influence the process?
The total time it takes to transcribe a recording depends on several factors. Let’s take a look at the key factors that affect transcription time.

  • Subject of the Recording - Any recording that requires the research of spelling and terms takes longer to transcribe. An hour-long interview on the subject of university education would probably take an experienced transcriber 4 hours to transcribe. On the contrary, a one-hour interview on clinical trials for hepatocarcinoma would probably take 5-6 hours to transcribe. In such a case the transcriptionist would need to research the medical terms to ensure the correct spelling.

  • Multiple Speakers - Transcription services charge extra for transcribing recordings with multiple speakers. This is fair because accurately transcribing multiple speakers is hard work e.g. a focus group with 5-10 people talking rapidly and often over each other.

  • Audio Quality - Outdoor recordings or recordings made without using external microphones usually have background noise or ‘echo’. These recordings take several rounds of listening to in order to understand everything being said.

  • Transcription Style - The transcription style defines how detailed the transcript is going to be. There are three transcription styles that are generally used in transcription – verbatim, intelligent verbatim and true verbatim. True verbatim is a highly detailed style of transcription that includes every little detail on the recording which includes laughter, ambient sounds, etc. This style takes much more time than say intelligent verbatim where all these details are left out while transcribing.

When do you need transcription?
There are many reasons when transcription of video or audio content is needed. We have listed some of these reasons, along with their benefits, below.

  • Transcribe audio content for the deaf or hard of hearing – It opens up services to a whole new audience.

  • Transcribe audio for voice over – This appeals to corporate videos or explainers.

  • Transcribe for translation purposes - The first step of translation is always transcribing. The same transcription document is used to create as many different foreign language versions as required.

  • Transcribe to create subtitles or closed captions – You will need a full transcribed document from the video.

Did you know that transcribing audio and video content can directly improve SEO?
It turns out that when you transcribe media such as podcasts, webinars and videos and post them alongside your content, you could get some quick SEO benefits. Studies found that pages that added transcripts earned an average of 16% more revenue than those without. YouTube videos that added captions gained 7.32% more overall views.  You can start transcription as a side hustle, so be sure to check these transcription jobs for beginners

You will probably find out that the most effective transcription tools do not come cheap. Most of the advanced ones can range from $50 to $150 a pop. If you need to transcribe confidential or large volumes of recordings you should go to a professional transcription company instead.

There is no official study documenting global average transcription prices per audio hour worked. Looking at most companies’ basic transcription rates you can see that they charge, on average, less than $3 per audio minute. Other companies charge between 9 to 15 cents per line transcribed. 

POLILINGUA can offer you the best transcription service with the best quality and most competitive price. Are you ready to hand in your transcription project? Contact POLILNGUA today!


Our translations are performed by translators carefully selected to align with the subject matter and content of your project. They meet and exceed international quality standards. Upon request, we will provide you with a certificate attesting to the precision of our translations