Transcription Services/Note Taking

Verbatim Transcripts vs. Non-Verbatim Transcripts: How to Get the Transcription Service You Need

By Take Note Team on July, 4 2019
Take Note Team

On a day-to-day basis, verbatim isn’t a word we use regularly. In the transcription world, it is probably the most common kind of transcript clients ask for. However, are there other options?

There absolutely are. In fact, if you are simply a casual user of transcription services, you have likely never received a strict-verbatim transcript in the first place. Under most circumstances, you won't want a full-verbatim transcript at all.  

What makes this confusing is a lack of standard industry terms. The expectation of many causal transcription users to access verbatim transcripts has even led some transcription services to re-label more useful services simply as 'verbatim'. 

There are many more transcript formats out there that could be better suited to your needs. If you want to get the best value for your money when using transcription services, you need to know your options. 

The differences between verbatim and non-verbatim transcripts (common terminology, outcomes and what your transcript will look like) are exactly what we will deliver here. Keep reading! 

Full-verbatim 

A full-verbatim transcript includes everything -- and we do mean everything. Every ‘urm’, every ‘ah’, and every gasp will be present. You can even go further than this and get annotations which include tone of voice, laughter and much more. 

It is the most comprehensive and expensive option available. Even repeated and filler words are included here so if you want the most possible detail, this is definitely the right route to take. 

Be aware though that this will only be suitable in specific situations. For most people, it will be complete overkill and involve sifting through pages of irrelevant information. If you are using the transcript as a resource, it can make it more complicated and time-consuming to read and find the relevant details. 

You might have guessed that a full-verbatim transcript will be useful when the little details do matter. For instance, legal matters, negotiations and court proceedings could all mean that a full-verbatim transcript will be useful. 

It’s also possible that you want this type of transcript when dealing with finances where accountability is crucial. In these scenarios, gaining only the gist of the information would actually make the resource far less valuable. 

If you do decide to opt for full-verbatim transcripts, make sure you choose a UK-based transcription service. This will ensure that information from unique dialects and accents is noted accurately. 

Verbatim: AKA Intelligent Verbatim 

Typically, Verbatim or Intelligent Verbatim will be the option chosen by most clients. It is largely considered the industry standard. So, if you don’t specify what type of transcript you want, this is the solution that most companies will deliver. It may also be referred to as simply ‘verbatim’, ‘word-for-word’ or ‘clean-verbatim’.

Here, a significant level of the typically useless information is cut out by a professional editor. So, there is no ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ present here, which provides a more succinct final resource. The final result is more clean and clear while still delivering all the relevant word-for-word information. It is suitable for every type of business requirement outside of legal proceedings. 

There’s little downside to selecting this possibility. You don’t get any fluff and it is often cheaper to produce than a full-verbatim transcript. As such, it provides fantastic value for money and it’s even easier to read so you can spend less time siphoning through repeated words, breaks in the conversation and all the other irrelevant details that won’t matter as much to you. 

Detailed Notes

A step above verbatim, here the transcript will be edited to be on point and on topic. If a speaker has headed on a tangent or stopped to make a joke, this will likely be removed. Indeed, all chitchat is eliminated while non-critical sections are provided as summaries. This includes interview questions which may be cut down to size. 

You might be worried about missing out crucial info here. Well, in this case, the client is typically able to provide context. You can suggest what information is relevant to you and ensure that it is included within the transcript. Similar to intelligent verbatim, the final resource is easier and faster to read with a shorter, to the point solution. 

Since these transcripts are shorter and easier to produce, they are available at lower price points on the market. As such, you can get an efficient transcript with the main points present without spending a lot of money. 

Summary Transcription Services

With this option, you won’t be provided with a significant level of detail. Instead, the transcript is focused on providing a summary of a particular recording or typically, a set of recordings. By exploring these summaries, you will be able to ascertain which ones need to be transcribed in full. 

As you might have guessed, this option provides a lower price point. However, it is important to note that this is usually a starting point before you order a full-verbatim transcript, if that’s the kind of transcript you need. For this reason, it is unlikely that you will receive a quote for the work before it is completed. 

With summary transcripts, it is vital that the transcriber understands the information they are working with. This is why it is essential that an industry expert is chosen -- the level of quality here will differ from service to service. 

You also will not have a clear idea of how much the information is going to be summarised before the final product is delivered. Due to this, it is not an ideal option when you are purchasing a transcript, even as a jumping off point. Instead, you will find it far more valuable to opt for detailed notes or verbatim. 

Rough Notes/Draft

Rough notes or a draft transcript is another option which is often enticing due to the lower price point. Here, the transcriber will work to note down as much information as they can from a particular recording. 

Unfortunately, there is no set standard followed for completing this type of service. As such, quality can differ drastically from one solution to the next. While one might provide detailed notes, another could offer very little relevant information. 

The whole process becomes unpredictable, which isn’t an issue you want in your business. The chances of gaining a high-quality transcript are slim and this is considered an undesirable option because you will always be rolling the dice. 

Getting a transcript that suits your particular needs

We hope this has provided you with the information you need to determine which transcript option is right for you. 

For legal matters or financial considerations where minor details can be crucial, full verbatim will be necessary and worth the additional cost. However, if you want a lower cost and a more succinct final product, intelligent verbatim or detailed notes could be the best option. 

Remember, using a UK transcription service will ensure GDPR compliance as well as security standards. You should also review several quotes from different solutions before settling on a final choice for your business. 


We hope this article has helped you understand more about the differences between verbatim and non-verbatim transcripts. To find out more about getting the right transcript for you, we’ve written an Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services to help you!

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