Posts Tagged ‘audio




Once I’ve settled with my client, he/she would send me an e-mail that would contain where I could find the file that I would have to transcribe. It usually comes through my e-mail as an attachment or as a file or a link where I could download it from and save it into my computer. The audio file could have the filename extensions such as WAV, MP3, WMA or an MP4.

To play these files I had to download Express Scribe, a transcription tool. It was one of the requirements that a client would also ask of me.

Using Express Scribe (ES) made my life easier if I get those files mentioned above. I learned to transfer the file into ES and then start transcribing. I didn’t need to have a foot pedal since I was used to using the ‘hot keys’ faster since I am a touch typist.

Coming from Windows Media Player (WMP), which I used when I was just starting, that was a 360-degree turn for me. Imagine, if I didn’t use ES, I would have to press pause on WMP, move the slider then play the audio. That was time consuming, I tell you. The slider wouldn’t go right at the spot where you actually stopped the audio. It would but you’d have to try it many times, in my experience.


When I applied as a home-based legal transcriptionist, I was again introduced to another software. But this time, it played videos and it had a transcription pad where you could type in text. It’s called Inqscribe.

My client would send me big files of videos for me to transcribe. Sometimes, it’s one hour or one-and-a-half hours in length. I would download the video first and I would open it in Inqscribe. It already has a player, volume, and a typing pad. Additional features of Inqscribe are putting in time stamps, choosing hot keys for easier play/pause/rewind of the video, and a host of other things.

Tips for Working on Audios:

1.) For starters, use Express Scribe as your first choice for working on audios sent through your e-mail.

2.) For videos, I can suggest using Inqscribe, the free download, but as always, it’s for a limited time only. After two weeks or a month, Inqscribe would remind you to get a new license key for you to use it again.

3.) Ask your client how long the audio is so that when you download it, it’s the number of minutes that your client said it was. Just to make sure.

4.) Once you’ve downloaded the audio, check the audio out by listening to it by segments, if you are going to work on something longer than 15 minutes or so, just to check the quality of the audio.

5.) If the quality of the audio is really bad, you can tell your client that you can’t do it because of poor quality – lots of background noise, the speaker isn’t heard or what have you. That way, your client will know that the audio he/she sent isn’t workable and cancel having it transcribed or give you another audio to work on.

That’s it for THE AUDIO FILE(S). Next up will be using Express Scribe or Inqscribe. Just some tips you could use if you’re a beginner in transcription. Thanks for reading.


My First Client

I remember the first time I had a transcription job. This was when I posted that I could transcribe audios in a day so I could send the transcript to the client as soon as possible. Yes, I am a fast typist, or a touch typist that’s why I could type and listen to an audio at the same time. It’s kind of multitasking, don’t you think?

Let me stay on the topic at hand, which is my first client. After I was contacted by a client overseas, it was for her dissertation, she interviewed foreigners. Back in 2007, our Internet connection was just dial-up, not the wired broadband connections these days. The fastest was the 64 kilo bytes per second at that time. And when you’re using a telephone line, you would not be able to use the telephone or else you would lose the Internet connection.

Okay, my client and I had settled on the price and she sent me the link in my e-mail account so I could download the audio. At one point, the downloading stopped at 5 MB of the file. I thought that was it as I didn’t know I’d have to ask the client how long the file was. At that time, the Internet connection was really slow so it took like half an hour to download a 10-minute or so audio. The downloading just stopped and I didn’t bother checking if there was more to it than that.

So I started transcribing and after an hour or less, I sent in the file. What happened next was unbelievable.

My client reprimanded me for sending in an incomplete transcription of the interview. Yes, I downloaded a five-minute audio, thinking that was the whole thing and transcribed it. Boy, did I get so frustrated and mad at myself for not realizing that was a boo-boo. My client even blamed me for not passing her dissertation because of the error I’d committed. I apologized to her profusely. For that, I told her that I’d transcribe the audios for free.

So I downloaded it again, transcribed the whole 20-minute audio, and submitted the transcript, even if it was too late. I still got paid P1,500 for the job, for the effort.


The dial-up days are over so a transcriber’s Internet connection should be something like 2.1 Mbps now to comply with the client’s requirements in downloading audios, or else, no transcription job.

After that mistake I made, from that time on, I’d make sure that all the audios I’d download, I’d ask the client how long the file was and wait for it to completely download.


The Transcription Job

In transcription, the things that you should be concerned about are:  audio, format, style guide and deadlines.  These are the things you should consider once you and your client have agreed to the rates you’ve given.   Remember not to price so low if you can send back quality transcripts.  $10 per audio hour is a big no-no.

Audio.  Once things have been settled between you and your client, you have to download the audio and check if it’s clear, doable and the exact length your client specified in an email.  You can listen to parts of the audio and see if you could still enhance it in Express Scribe, Audacity or in any software that you use for transcription that could help you make the audio clearer, if it’s not that clear or audible.  If there’s no way to enhance it, you can inform your client that it’s impossible to work on as soon as you can so that the client will know how bad it is.

That is, hoping that your client is online all the time to answer your queries.

Format.  This is also important.  It’s a guide for you how to type the transcript.  Always ask your client how he/she would like his transcript to look like.  More often than not, clients prefer a certain format for the transcriptionist to follow.  This has to be strictly followed or else you’d lose your client.  Or most of the time, the client has his/her own template and a sample and they will send it either with the audio link or in a separate email.

Be sure to check your emails carefully for these or you might start from scratch.  You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Style guide.  A style guide is the rules of how you will approach the audio and start transcribing.  Without it, you’re at a loss.  You’d have to contact your client again and again if he/she doesn’t have a clear guide as to how he/she wants the audio transcribed.  I always ask my client if I would have to include the uh’s, uhm’s, uh-huh’s, wanna, gonna, kinda, you know, I mean, like, so, et cetera.  I’m lucky if those are not needed.  Those are really a bunch of useless words to me.  Or ask if you could start the sentence with ‘And…’  as most speakers do that.

The style guide is just to make things clear about a lot of things that’s why it’s part and parcel of any transcription job.  There are clients that are meticulous when it comes to their transcript.  There are times they would require you to include the time stamp every 5 minutes or so, which is also tedious for me.

Deadlines.  Now, this is the crucial part of the job.  If the client says, “I need this by 12 noon tomorrow,” make sure you complete the task by 12 noon the next day.  You’re lucky the client gave you a long turn-around time or TAT, in transcription lingo.  Usually, clients would want a shorter TAT for a certain audio and that is a rush job.  We can talk about that in another blog.  That’s a whole ballgame altogether.

As long as you and your client agree on the terms, conditions and the things you have to do on an audio, that’s fine.  But always ask your client if you still have something to clarify.  That way, the client will know you want to make your work as perfect as you can.

Good luck and love your job!