CREATING ACCESSIBLE AUDIO CONTENT

FOCUS AREA TWO
Tips for Transcribing (Part Two)

Grammar and Punctuation

There are particular ways to approach grammar and punctuation when transcribing that are useful to know, both in terms of industry standard and in terms of accessibility. While different organizations may have different style guides, here is an overview to get you started.

An ellipsis.

How to use an ellipsis in a transcript:

Use an ellipsis to show that someone’s voice has trailed off at the end of a sentence.

If you are using an ellipsis (the punctuation mark that is three periods in a row), put a space after it, but not before.

Example

I do like watching sports. It would be hard to pick a favourite…

Left and right square brackets.

How to indicate a lengthy pause in a transcript:

If there is a lengthy pause in the conversation, indicate by writing [pause].

Use square brackets [ ] rather than parenthesis ( ).

Example

I do like watching sports [pause] I never miss the Saturday night hockey game.

An em dash.

How to show a speaker trailing off or being interrupted in a transcript:

If a person trails off in the middle of a word or interrupts their own thought, use an em-dash. An em-dash is created on a Mac computer by holding down the shift and option keys and pressing the minus (-) key. On a PC computer, hold down the shift key and type 0151 on the numeric keyboard to the right of the main keyboard.

Note that there is no space on either side of an em-dash.

Example

Did you watch the game last night–I mean Saturday night?

Two exclamation points.

How to show non-verbal communication in a transcript:

Identify all non-verbal communication like sighing, laughing, singing, crying, etc.

That said, do not overly interpret the non-verbal communication.

Example

[laughing] This will be the first time our team wins the season.

 A question mark.

How to transcribe inaudible words:

Sometimes there will be words or sounds that are inaudible or hard to hear while transcribing.

If there are words that are inaudible, note that in the transcript.

Example

If I hadn’t missed the game, I would have [inaudible]

Left and right quotation marks.

When using quotation marks in a transcript:

If someone mentions something that was said in conversation, use quotation marks.

Also use punctuation marks when someone is indicating a thought.

Example

He said, “I’ll buy the tickets”.

I was thinking, “Should I buy the tickets this time?”

— Adapted from Guide to Transcribing, Mount Saint Vincent University (2015).

An important note about proofreading

It is crucial to review a transcript after you have completed transcribing. Since transcribing is such an involved process, you will probably need to review the document more than once to make sure it is correct.

Spell checks and correction tools in Microsoft Word and Pages can help you proofread your transcription but don't rely on them too heavily. Spellcheck doesn't help with names, homophones, acronyms, or word substitutions.

illustration of gears in motion

CHECK YOUR UNDERSTANDING

Ouch! Disability Talk Show is a BBC podcast presented every month by Rob Crossan and Kate Monaghan. Ouch! features interviews, discussion and quizzes about all aspects of disability presented with 'a good dose of healthy humour' (Ouch!, 2017).

In this podcast, the Ouch! team discusses sign language on the radio and interviews Deaf TV producer William Mager with interpreter Joe Taylor.

Ouch: Disability Talks Podcast Logo, Source: bbc.co.uk

Listen to the entire episode then go back and listen to the first minute. Try to transcribe the audio by typing what you hear word-for-word in the textbox below.

EMMA:

You’re listening to Inside Ouch and this one’s all about sign language, which is going to be interesting as we’re all in different parts of the UK and none of us can see each other. I’m Emma Tracey and I’m in Edinburgh, then we’ve got Beth Rose and Damon Rose in London. Hello.

BETH:

Hello.

DAMON:

Hello.

EMMA:

And then we’ve got William Mager in Bristol. Hi William. WILLIAM Hi, hello there. Good morning.

EMMA:

But that’s not even William’s voice because William’s deaf and he’s speaking through an interpreter, Joe Taylor. And I never know whether to say hello to the interpreters, I never know what to do there. Do I? Do I say hello to them?

WILLIAM:

Yes of course you can say hello to the interpreter. EMMA Hi Joe.

JOE:

Hi, hello.

DAMON:

That’s weird, it sounds just like William.

EMMA:

It does, doesn’t it? So William works at the BBC. What’s your job William?

WILLIAM:

I work as a series producer for See Hear. It’s a long running BBC programme for deaf people presented in sign language. It started 36 years ago and when it started off it was presented in a mixture of speech and sign language, but the way the programme has been presented over time has changed throughout the years, so it’s presented mainly in sign language but our contributors range from those who speak and also deaf people who use sign language. So a whole range of people on the spectrum of deafness.

The complete transcript can be found on the BBC News website.

EMMA:

You’re listening to Inside Ouch and this one’s all about sign language, which is going to be interesting as we’re all in different parts of the UK and none of us can see each other. I’m Emma Tracey and I’m in Edinburgh, then we’ve got Beth Rose and Damon Rose in London. Hello.

BETH:

Hello.

DAMON:

Hello.

EMMA:

And then we’ve got William Mager in Bristol. Hi William. WILLIAM Hi, hello there. Good morning.

EMMA:

But that’s not even William’s voice because William’s deaf and he’s speaking through an interpreter, Joe Taylor. And I never know whether to say hello to the interpreters, I never know what to do there. Do I? Do I say hello to them?

WILLIAM:

Yes of course you can say hello to the interpreter. EMMA Hi Joe.

JOE:

Hi, hello.

DAMON:

That’s weird, it sounds just like William.

EMMA:

It does, doesn’t it? So William works at the BBC. What’s your job William?

WILLIAM:

I work as a series producer for See Hear. It’s a long running BBC programme for deaf people presented in sign language. It started 36 years ago and when it started off it was presented in a mixture of speech and sign language, but the way the programme has been presented over time has changed throughout the years, so it’s presented mainly in sign language but our contributors range from those who speak and also deaf people who use sign language. So a whole range of people on the spectrum of deafness.

The complete transcript can be found on the BBC News website.

Generally, it takes a minimum of four times the length of an audio or video clip to transcribe it. If an interview is 15 minutes long, it will take a minimum of an hour to transcribe. If a documentary is an hour long, it will take at least four hours to transcribe, and it could take much longer depending on the quality of the audio.