Random Tips For Transcriptionists


As I was doing some transcription work yesterday, I was thinking of the following question: what would be good tips for anyone who wanted to get in the field.

The most important thing: get a foot pedal! Obviously, using your feet to listen frees up your hands to type.

The second most important thing: Express Scribe, or other software that can edit audio files to make them more hearable. Express Scribe is very friendly with most foot pedals, just plug it in, set it up, and go.

Quality headphones are also very important. I currently have Sennheiser over-your-head phones that I found on Amazon for $25. The earbuds and earphones that come with most smartphones, while reliable for your phone, don’t work all that well with transcription work, where the quality can sometimes not be up to snuff.  Improvise and overcome!

Don’t try to do a large file in one sitting. Be sure to take breaks every hour or so. I usually take a ten minute break every hour, but if the breaks interfere with deadlines, take a 15 minute break every two hours, or less. But at least take five minutes an hour to get coffee, soft drinks, do house chores, whatever you feel your need to. Even short breaks can refresh the mind.

The way I transcribe is to listen to about five words or a couple of seconds at a time, type the words out, and repeat the process until I’m finished.

Once you’re done, play the audio file again, and read along with what you’ve typed. When you find errors, stop, correct, and move on.

Don’t let words you can’t hear and can’t understand take up a lot of time. With Rev, I mark these events as [inaudible] or [crosstalk], or I give a phonetic spelling. Try and catch these words on the second pass, and don’t let them take up any more than a minute or so.  It’s more important to get a “rough draft” on paper than anything else, psychologically.

Lastly, if you work somewhere where you’re being graded, don’t let rough starts get you down. When I started doing this a few months ago, I knew a lot less than I know now. Unless you have prior experience, you’re going to make mistakes merely because you may not realize the errors you make.

Success on your journey if you decide this path for yourself.


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