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Style Requirements

Style requirements vary from Basic to Verbatim Transcriptions. Refer to one of the two sections below depending on which kind of task you are working on.

General Rules

The following rules apply to both Basic and Verbatim Transcriptions.
Sound Events that Interrupt Dialogue
When background noise occurs, use brackets around a short description of explanation of the sound. This can include silence or a specific tone. Try to be as descriptive as possible in 1-3 words. For example:
  • Background noise - When there is background noise that is not speech, indicate it with a note.
    • [laughter], [applause], [phone ringing] and [music] are all acceptable tags that indicate what is happening in the speaker's environment.
  • Silence - In the case of a jarring or prolonged silence, leave a [silence] note.
    • If a speaker cuts off or stops and is notable, use [cuts off] or an ellipsis with no spaces. For example:
      "I really think... She is mad at me.”
  • Tone indicators - If a speaker is angry or is using a joking tone, include an [angry] or [joking] note before the word/phrase.
If the speaker must stop because of a sound event, then include the bracketed note in its own paragraph. Then, continue with the speaker in a new paragraph.
Examples:
Correct
Patient:
The pain is in this area...
[gasp]
Patient:
...below the knee.
Doctor:
How strong?
Patient:
I would rate it around a six.
Incorrect
Patient:
The pain is in this area [gasp] below the knee.
Doctor:
How strong?
Patient:
I would rate it around a six.
Showing Uncertainty
Indicate when you are uncertain of a spoken word or a phrase by placing brackets ,"[ ]", around one of the following indicators before each word/phrase in question:
[crosstalk] - Use this note when two speakers are talking over one another. Try to get as much from each speaker as possible.
  • For example, if a patient is talking and the doctor interrupts with a question that is answered, do the following:
    Patient:
    The pain is in this area [crosstalk] below the knee.
    Doctor:
    How strong?
    Patient:
    I would rate it around a six.
    The doctor interjected before the patient finished, but we do not want to split the sentence into two paragraphs. Therefore, the patient's sentence is completed, and then the doctor's question is inserted into a new paragraph.
[inaudible][00:00] - Use this when you are not able to guess what was said.
  • It is very important that you use this instead of leaving words out without letting us know.
  • Additionally, please make sure to mark the time (or time range) of the inaudible language.
[foreign] - Use this note when a language other than English is being spoken.
[phonetic] - Use this note when you are unsure of the spelling of a word, title or name, but can make out the sounds. After using this note, you will spell the word out phonetically, to the best of your ability.
  • Use this note instead of [inaudible] if you can make out parts of a word but not the whole thing.
  • Use this note for unfamiliar words you’re not sure how to spell, such as scientific or medical terms.
Timestamps
Each transcription requiring timestamps must include timestamps at least once every 30 seconds and at every change in speaker..
Place timestamps in brackets - [00:30]. The timestamp should be placed after the speaker's name and before the transcribed language is shown. If there is only one speaker, the timestamps should be inserted every 30 seconds within the transcript.
Correct
Dave:
[00:30] How are you?
Frank:
[00:40] Good. How are you?
Dave:
[01:05] Great!
Incorrect
Dave: How are you? [00:30]
Frank: Good. How are you?
[01:00]
Dave: Great!
Always use only minutes and seconds when inserting a timestamp. Thirty seconds is represented as [00:30], and one hour and 10 minutes is represented as [70:00].
Speaker Labels
Speaker labels must always be used with a colon, include a hanging indent and be bolded. The goal is to make all of the speakers' names stand out so that the transcription is more digestible to the reader.
Correct
Dave:
This was a nice meeting.
Steve:
Yes! I agree! When should we meet next?
Dave:
Let's meet on Tuesday for lunch.
Incorrect
Dave- This was a nice meeting.
Steve- Yes! I agree! When should we meet next?
Dave- Let's meet on Tuesday for lunch.
Use a speaker label whenever speakers change or if there is a long pause.
Only use names, titles and gender as speaker labels. Use labels in this order:
  1. Name
    1. Use the full name (if available) on first reference.
    2. Use the speaker's first name for the remainder of the transcription.
    3. If the speaker's title is known, include the title with each label. Use with the last name (Dr. Mathews).
  2. Title
    1. Use if the title is known but the speaker's name is not.
    2. Include gender to add more description to the speaker.
    3. Doctor, Manager, Male Patient, Female Professor
  3. Gender (Woman or Man only)
    1. Use the speaker's gender if his/her name and title is not available.
    2. Man, Woman
In the event that there is more than one undefined speaker of the same gender, title or role, use numbers to separate them. “Man 1” “Man 2”
Make each label as descriptive as possible. For example, "Female Reviewer" is much more helpful than "Reviewer" would be.
If there is a large group talking, then refer to them as a whole body, such as "Audience." Additionally, if a single man from the audience talks, then refer to him as "Audience Member" rather than "Man."