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29 Jun 2019   Last updated 28 June 2021

Interview Transcription: 3 Types of Transcription Explained

Automatic transcription

Doing a lot of interviews these days? Wondering what kind of transcription you should opt for? Today we’ll discuss the 3 most common types of interview transcription – clean verbatim, smooth verbatim, and full verbatim.

First, we’ll describe each of them separately, then compare them to each other and finally conclude in which circumstances each of them is most appropriate. Let’s get straight to it!

Note: If you haven’t interviewed people yet and you’re searching for some great tips, check out our blog post on how to conduct an interview!

What is clean verbatim?

Clean (also known as “intelligent”) transcription serves as a good representation of the interview’s content itself. Among all the other types of transcriptions, it usually looks more formal and less distracting, which is why it’s called “clean”. Here are the characteristics of clean verbatim method:

  • Filler words (uhms, mhhm) are left out
  • Repetitive words (like, kind of) are excluded or adjusted
  • Stutters and interjections are also excluded
  • Readability is improved by correcting minor grammar mistakes and phrasing (for example, by removing slang words)

However, one shouldn’t adjust the content of the interview too much. When you’re going through your transcript, make sure that you only exclude unnecessary and repetitive words , but not those words, that contribute to the meaning of the discussion. This transcription technique requires manual adjustment, but understanding of the context is not essential.

Where to use: formal conferences & meetings, medical transcription.

Original text: Yeah… there are some big cities in the Netherlands, like mhm…. Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Clean transcript: There are some big cities in the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

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What is a smooth verbatim?

This transcription method not only captures the content of the interview (what?), but also the manner in which it was conducted (how?). A smooth verbatim transcript should include:

  • All the filler words
  • Interjections, stutters
  • Original content with no paraphrasing
  • No grammar correction

That’s the transcription type produced by Automatic Speech Recognition software, like Amberscript. This method is certainly more detailed, than clean transcription. Here the emphasis is on the original content of the interview, but also not to an extent, where every small detail is recorded.

Where to use: management research, journalism.

Original text: Yeah… there are some big cities in the Netherlands, like mhm…. Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Smooth verbatim transcript: Yeah… there are some big cities in the Netherlands, like mhm…. Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Note: it’s the same as the original text.

What is a full verbatim?

Full (also known as “strict”) transcription goes one step further, than smooth verbatim, by considering:

  • Non-verbal cues
  • Emotional reactions
  • Sounds from the external environment
  • Pauses

Laughter, throat clearing, body language – those are all noted down by the interviewer. Full verbatim transcription is all about minor details, that make up the context of the interview and behavioral patterns, expressed by the interviewee.

Where to use: marketing research, legal investigation, job interviews.

Original text: Yeah… there are some big cities in the Netherlands, like mhm…. Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

Full verbatim transcript: Yeah… there are some big cities in the Netherlands (clears throat), like mhm…. Amsterdam and…. (pause) Rotterdam.

Clean verbatimOnly meaningful words Conferences, meetings, healthcare Readability
Smooth verbatimAll wordsJournalism, business research Authenticity of the dialogue
Full verbatimAll words + non-verbal behavior and context Marketing research, legal procedures, job interviews Authenticity of the dialogue + context around it

Now you’re acquainted with most common types of transcription, good job! That doesn’t mean that you should spend hours transcribing yourself! Choose the most efficient way and use the online transcription tool by Amberscript!

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