Transcribe Interview Format Essay

Unit II Classroom Applications of Fieldwork Basics
Lessons 3 and 5


Transcribing an Interview Worksheet

Name ________________________________________  Date ________________________

Instructions: Select a short portion of an audio recording to transcribe in the text box below, or on notebook paper. Before starting, write the number on the counter at the beginning point. Transcribe until you fill all the lines in the text box. When you have finished filling up the text box, write the ending number on the counter. Here are some points to remember:

  1. Write down each word you hear. Stop the recording when needed, back up occasionally and listen to the same section as you read along, making sure you wrote the words in the correct order. You may need to do this several times. If you can't understand the words, ask another person to listen or simply leave a blank space.

  2. Each time a new speaker talks, use their full name and then initials so readers can follow along. Maria Hernandez would be MH, etc.

  3. People talk much differently than they write. They begin new sentences without finishing the old one. They may add a lot of extra words (called "crutch words") such as "you know" and "yeah." If you think the words are crutch words and you want to leave these out of your transcript, say so at the beginning. "I removed crutch words and false starts from this transcript." Also say whether you are including all the "uhs" and "ums" and "ahs."

Some hints:

— Sometimes sentences aren't complete. That's okay. Just write what you hear. When a sentence is not complete, put a dash at the end (-).

— To add your own comment or explain something that the interviewee didn't fully say, put brackets [ ] around your words. For example, "I learned how to do it [to crochet] when I was nine years old."

— Don't try to make your transcription sound better by adding your own words or correcting grammar.

— Use standard spelling and don't try to write in dialect or "how it sounds." In other words, write "that" instead of "dat," even if "dat" is what you hear.

— Sometimes it's not easy to see where one sentence ends and another begins. Just write it the best way you can. The main idea is that the transcript is accurate and comes close to how the speaker really sounds.

— If you can't hear the words, leave a blank and come back to it later or have someone else listen. If you still can't figure it out, use ellipses . . . three spaced dots . . .to represent something left out.

— If you want to emphasize a word, use italics.


Here's a sample transcript:

Anna Hernandez: Aunt Maria, well, I was wondering what kinds of vegetables you use in your chicken soup?

Maria Hernandez: I like to use celery, parsnips, and carrots mostly, but I always use, see, like these here. I always use carrots. If we have potatoes, of course I throw those in. [Tastes the soup].

AH: How do you cut up the vege-

MH: --Carrots-I always put carrots in, you know, in thick slices, but it doesn't much matter how I do the potatoes. No special way, really.

You'll find that transcribing a tape is an art in itself. No two people will transcribe the same tape the same way.

(Adapted with permission from FOLKPATTERNS 4-H Leader's Guide, Michigan 4-H Youth Programs, Cooperative Extension Service, and Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing, MI. Copyright 1991 Michigan State University Board of Trustees. These materials may be copied for non-profit educational purposes.)


Page 2

For a PDF of this page click here.

Example transcription: verbatim

X: Could you tell me more about why you offer example transcriptions on your website?

Y: Sure. We have provided example interview transcripts our website in order to show the differences between each way of transcribing. By doing so, we allow customer to pick the way of transcribing that exactly meets their demands. Each way of transcribing, as you probably know, fits another type of research. In the example transcripts customers can clearly see the difference between each type. 

X: Okay. Could you tell a little bit more about the various ways of transcribing and creating interview transcriptions and the example transcripts?

Y: Of course. A verbatim transcript can be best used if one is purely interested in what is being said. Concretely this means that the customer is not interested in the ehm’s and ehr’s, but only analyses whole words and sentences. Therefore we do not include the ehm’s and eh’rs in verbatim transcripts. By the way, customers can also download example interview transcripts on our website in a PDF format.   

When a verbatim transcript?

·      In case of informal conversations

·      When the transcript will be used for internal purposes

·      If it only what someone is saying, not how someone is saying it

Example transcription: literal

X: Okay. Um, so, and what about literal transcriptions then? 

Y: Yeah, um ... Well, literal transcriptions are mostly being used for scientific research or legal matters. Well, yes, in those circumstances, as you can imagine, it is important that all the details, that really everything, um, is included. As you, do you, you can imagine that this decreases the readability of the transcripts But they - it gives a better understanding of how the conversation, took place.

X: Yes, no, yes, I can imagine ehm. But, uh, what about with, uh, transcriptions for studies related to languages? You got a, uh, an example perhaps?

When a literal transcription?

•       The discussion has a formal nature

•       The transcripts will be used for scientific language research

•       The transcripts will be used for legal purposes

Example transcription: literally extra

Y: (laughs) Yes, No, uh, sure I do. For, um, a large university in Rotterdam we have eh contributed to a study related to language among teachers. As you can imagine ah, that is a serious matter.

X: Yeah, no, of course.

Y: But eh (silence) which is obviously eh confidential. I cannot tell you anything about that project.

X: No, uh, of course. (Silence). Do you have perhaps an example transcription?

Y: Sure. The sample transcript can be downloaded as a PDF.

When an additional literal transcription?

•       The transcription will used for scientific (language) research

•       Emotions such as laughter and sighs are significant

•       When there is a strong focus on interaction

Interview transcript: do it yourself or let us help you out!

Once you’ve transferred the audio recordings from your voice recorder or mobile phone to your computer, you can start off with transcribing the interviews. However, it is important to realise that one hour of audio takes as much as four to six hours of work. If the quality of the recordings is poor, then this could double the amount of work.

Fortunately, transcription services like Transcript Online are here to help! We are more than willing to transcribe your interviews, where we can deliver your Dutch, Danish or English audio recordings within 48 hours. Interested? Then get a free quote!

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