7 Things You Didn’t Know About Transcription Services

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Transcription Services

Here are 7 things you didn’t know about transcription services. It’s important to understand what type of transcription service you need before choosing one.

Transcription services vary in terms of quality, cost, and features. Some audio transcribers use only a computer keyboard and speakers while others use a foot pedal and headphones.

Some offer specialist services such as transcription of court hearings, or transcribing video files and including timestamps and closed captions.

Here are seven things you didn’t know about transcription services.

1) Quality:

There are two main types of transcription services: manual and automated.

  • Manual transcription involves listening to audio files and typing them out by hand.
  • Automated transcription uses software to convert speech into text.

Both methods can produce high-quality transcripts. Careful proofreading of both transcripts is still required, however, as both the manual and automated versions may still contain errors.  With advancements in AI automated transcription is becoming more accurate but errors do still occur. Factors that could increase errors could include, poor audio quality, unclear speaker, multiple speakers, or a lot of background noise.

2) Cost:

Depending on the type of transcription service you choose prices can range from a few dollars an hour to thousands of dollars per month. Before you agree for any work to start make sure you understand what service you need and what rate they will charge you. Costs quoted can be on an hourly basis, by project basis, or by the minute. Each of these styles can greatly affect the overall cost. 

Transcription rates can also vary greatly depending on the following factors:

  • The number of speakers involved
  • Topic to be transcribed – is it technical? Does it include formulas, quotations, or foreign language?
  • Style required – verbatim, edited transcription, intelligent verbatim
  • Turnaround time required

3) Features:

Most transcription services offer some combination of these features: voice recording, transcription, proofreading, and editing.

4) Accuracy:

If you hire an experienced transcriptionist, you should expect a high degree of accuracy.  But errors do occur from time to time. Remember to ensure your quote covers the costs of any amendments required.

5) Speed:

We speak 4 x faster than we can type so a 15-minute audio file will take up to 60 minutes to type up. This is important to understand when trying to work out how much you will pay for your audio file to be transcribed. 

Before you agree to assign any work ensure you know the likely cost. Is it a set price per job, or price per minute of audio? Do not accept a vague hourly estimate.  An hourly estimate does not incentivize the transcriber to complete the work quickly.

6) Availability:

Many transcriptionists work full-time so they can provide transcription services when needed.

There are specialist transcription companies that offer 24/7 services. Generally made up of accessing a global network of transcriptionists they can provide continuous cover. Whilst this can provide fast turnaround times it may not be the best choice. As each transcriptionist will have their own transcription style you could end up with a piece of work that contains many different styles.

7) Training:

When hiring a transcriptionist, you need to make sure they have an understanding of the material they are being asked to transcribe. The material could be related to medical, technical, legal, foreign language, etc. Whilst you don’t need them to have a degree in technology, they do need to understand the basics, so they can understand what they are listening to.

Also before any work is undertaken remember to ensure you have received a clear quotation detailing anticipated costs. You should not be expected to pay extra if the transcriptionist takes a long time to transcribe what is being discussed. If they do not understand the subject matter they should not accept the assignment. Some will be happy to do a bit of research for the odd word, but the majority will not want to spend hours trying to decipher some obscure details.

7 Fun Facts about the History of Transcription

When man first started drawing in the sand and creating artwork on cave walls, we have continually recorded life in some shape or form.

1) Approximately 3400 BCE, Scribes would undertake work in Ancient Rome and Egypt by transcribing hieroglyphics onto papyrus.  This ensured that the rulers of the land could keep track of important laws, culture, and historical events. The rulers would then be able to accurately disseminate this information throughout the kingdom.

2) In 1714 an inventor called Henry Mill created a patent for a device similar to a typewriter. With the very first typewriter invented a few years later, in 1808, by Italian Inventor, Pellegrino Turri.

3) In 1867 a patent for the production of modern practical typewriters was awarded to an inventor called Christopher Lathan Scholes.

4) The QWERTY keyboard layout was developed over many years with the final layout accredited to Shole, Glidden, and Soule. The keyboard was designed around the QWERTY layout to stop typewriters from jamming as typists improved their typing speeds.

5) Physics Professor John Vincent Atanasoff, and graduate student Clifford Berry, are credited with building the first modern electronic digital computer in 1942 in Iowa.

6) The use of manual typewriters is making a comeback with people looking to step away from the distractions of the digital world.  Many authors and creative professionals want to step away from the use of laptops and desktops and re-engage with the gentle tap of the old-style typewriter keys.

7) If you need to produce a confidential paper or manuscript then using an old-style typewriter ensures you do not leave a digital footprint.  A word of warning though, someone could still possibly read any information that may be left behind on the typewriter ribbon!


Before asking someone to transcribe your audio files just take a bit of time and work through what style you need, turnaround time, and likely cost.  Check through the 7 things you didn’t know about transcription services. Then ask your transcriptionist to confirm they understand what you need them to do. All done – great, just sit back and wait for the finished result.