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What is audio transcription - and why is it make or break for your content?

Audio transcription is the process of taking speech from an audio file and converting it to written text. Adding a transcription to your video, podcast, or other audio recording file opens your content up to a wider audience. That could be to help users with additional accessibility needs or a user who needs the information but can’t listen to the audio version at that time. 

Additionally, audio transcription can do wonders for your SEO as the keywords are made visible for search engines to find. 

With more and more sites (including all the social media giants) incorporating audio and video transcriptions, it’s time to learn about their importance before your content is left behind.

Here's what we'll cover in this guide:

  • The importance of audio transcription 
  • Types of audio transcriptions
  • What types of projects need audio transcription? 
  • Who is responsible for audio transcription? 
  • How to transcribe audio

The importance of audio transcription 

Transcriptions, captions, and subtitling are vital for increasing accessibility. Users on the go can get the information they need from videos or podcasts without popping headphones in. And users with hearing difficulties no longer feel excluded from big internet trends, thanks to creators on social media including hard-captions, or transcriptions in the description. 

Not only does audio transcription make it easier for a user to access content, it can also help clear up confusion caused by regional dialect, audible distractions, background noise, or breaks in speech.

Audio transcription also holds benefits for the content creators too. Adding an audio transcript from your podcast or video automatically boosts your SEO as all your keywords are now in written form that search engines can recognize.

Transcriptions can increase your viewership on social media as well. Think about it: if you’re scrolling through the ‘Explore’ page of your Instagram and you can see what a video is about before you turn on the sound, what impact will that have? It helps you hone in on the content you really want to see and hear, and ignore the rest. 

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Types of audio transcriptions

Transcripts 

Transcripts are a text-based version of material that was originally produced in an audio or video format. Usually written as verbatim transcriptions, these texts are quite versatile compared to captions or subtitles. A transcription can be displayed below the original audio or video file, used as a separate resource, or used to create additional content such as blog posts. 

As a transcript is a separate piece of content from the original recording, it can be translated and presented in many different languages. They tend to be utilized by content creators with a wealth of information that users can learn from — think podcasts, TED talks, webinars, and online courses. 

Captions 

Captions are one of the more common forms of transcription. They display a text version of the audio within a video, with the text superimposed onto the video during playback. 

Captions are presented in the language native to the original video, rather than a translation to another language. They also offer written descriptions of sounds that can be heard, such as actions (e.g., a creaky door opening) or background noise. 

Closed captioning can be turned on and off at the user’s discretion, while burn-in captions are written into the video file itself.

Subtitles 

The words ‘caption’ and ‘subtitle’ are often interchanged. But while they share similarities, they serve very different purposes indeed.

Like with captions, subtitles are superimposed onto the video and can be turned on or off by the user. However, subtitles are used to translate the video’s native language into the user’s language. That enables potential audiences to access your content no matter where they live or what language they speak. 

What types of projects need audio transcription? 

Audio transcription is a great tool for any content creator to use. That said, there are some areas that can benefit more than others. 

Podcasts and radio 

As of April 2021, there are over 2 million podcasts hosted on Apple Podcasts — giving podcast-lovers a staggering 48 million episodes to choose from. That’s a mind boggling amount of content to compete with, before we even consider how the internet has impacted the radio industry.

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to discover a podcast or digital radio station that caters to your particular interests? That’s because search engines often have very little to work with — sometimes just the station’s name, episode titles, or very brief descriptions. 

The simple act of offering transcriptions alongside your audio can help users find the content they’re looking for with just a quick glance. 

Journalism and interviews 

Audio transcriptions are vital for journalists. It can be far easier to gain information verbally from their sources, especially if they’ve got a short turnaround time. However, for the information to be shared correctly an interview or piece of news needs to be transcribed verbatim to avoid misinterpretation. 

If the information is shared with only audio, poor audio quality, or a lazy transcription, it could have drastic consequences. 

Social media audio posts 

Audio is a convenient way to share stories and ideas with your audience, however not all social media users are in a position to listen to it. 

Offering transcriptions with your social media posts offers accessibility to all your users — whether they’re unable to listen due to hearing difficulties or they’re in a crowded, public space. 

Audiobooks 

Wait, isn’t a transcript of an audiobook... just a book? Yes and no.

The popularity of audiobooks has meant that some authors are choosing to bypass physical books in order to give the audience an immersive experience. Transcribing an audiobook can help the listener immerse themselves further, as the words they read are given life by the voices they hear.

It can also help those with hearing difficulties or those who don’t speak the content’s native language.

Academic resources 

Not every student has time to listen through a full audio file in the hopes it has the information they need. Offering a transcript of academic audio content means that learners can easily search on the page for what they need. 

Including time-stamps on the transcription also allows them to quickly locate useful information on the audio file — then they can listen for full context.

Who is responsible for audio transcription? 

It can be helpful to have a dedicated transcriber (or ‘transcriptionist’) on the team who can handle dictation and transcribing. But anyone can take charge. 

Ensuring you have transcriptions will help your marketing department, accessibility specialists, and even the content creators themselves. So long as they’re accurate with their transcribing, it doesn’t matter what department they work in. 

How to transcribe audio 

Manually transcribing audio is often a thankless and incredibly time-consuming job. But sometimes it has to be done...

Step 1: Clear your schedule 

Transcribing will take more time than the length of the audio file, with most estimates at around 4-5x the content length. 

Step 2: Listen through and start typing 

Either listen through the entire audio file and type as you go, or go section by section. This is entirely dependent on how you work. Just be prepared for a lot of typing! 

Step 3: Listen again and check for errors 

It’s unlikely you’ll have transcribed everything perfectly on the first try, so go through and make sure you’re getting everything verbatim.

Step 4: Repeat 

It’ll take a few listens to get everything right. When you think you’re there, press play for one final listen to ensure you’ve got it all down.

There are transcription software services on the market right now. But if you’ve ever read an auto-generated transcript, then you’ll know that these rarely do the job well.

Apart from...

Simon Says’ audio transcription service makes the whole process easy — and accurate!

Even the simple step-by-step guide above seems like a lot of work. And transcription software can’t always be trusted. 

That’s why we’ve built Simon Says — the accurate, AI-powered transcription tool to make audio and video transcription a breeze. With 100+ language translation options, speaker identification, and a world-class transcript editor, Simon Says takes the frustration out of transcription.