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. However, proofreading is required as both carry the potential for 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. Always check the rates before any work is undertake. Sometimes costs are quoted as hourly, by project, or by the minute, which can greatly affect the overall cost. 

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

  • The number of speakers
  • The topic being transcribed
  • 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 when trying to work out how much you will pay for your audio file to be transcribed. 

A set price per job, or price per minute of audio, ensures you know the cost before work is undertaken, rather than a vague hourly estimate.  An hourly estimate does not incentivise 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 who offer 24/7 services. This is generally made up of accessing a global network of transcriptionists who can provide cover. This can provide fast turnaround times but may result in different styles of work being produced. Each transcriptionist will bring their own transcription style to the final piece of work.

7) Training: Before hiring a transcriptionist, make sure they have training in the material being discussed. It could be related to medical, technical, legal, foreign language, etc.

Ensure you have a clear quote for the work to be undertaken as you should not be expected to pay if the transcriptionist takes a long time to transcribe what is being discussed. 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

From the time that man first started drawing in the sand, or creating artworks on cave walls, life has been recorded 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. This could be disseminated throughout the kingdom.

2) In 1714 an inventor called Henry Mill created a patent for a device similar to a typewriter and in 1808 Pellegrino Turri, an Italian Inventor, is credited with inventing the first typewriter.

3) Modern practical typewriters were patented in 1867 by 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 using an old-style typewriter ensures you do not leave a digital footprint.  And yes, whilst no-one can hack a typewriter remember there could be tell-tale information left on the ribbon!


Before asking someone to transcribe your audio files just take a bit of time and work through what you style you need, turnaround time, and likely cost.  Check through the 7 things you didn’t know about transcription services, ask questions of your transcriptionist so you  both understand what is needed – then sit back and wait for the finished result.