Verbatim Transcription: Types & Use Cases

What Is Verbatim Transcription?

Verbatim transcription captures every word spoken in an audio or visual recording, including filler words, false starts and stutters, non-verbal cues like laughter or sighs, and even background noises. This creates a written document that acts as a complete record of the spoken content.


By presenting information exactly as it's spoken, verbatim transcription gives users access to a comprehensive understanding of the content, including the speaker's tone, hesitations, and emphases, which might be crucial points of reference for correctly interpreting context.

Verbatim transcription is a powerful tool for promoting accessibility in a world increasingly reliant on digital communication. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, verbatim transcripts provide an alternative way to access information from lectures, meetings, presentations, and other audio-based content. Similarly, for people who are blind or have low vision, verbatim transcripts paired with audio descriptions can create more inclusive engagement. Descriptive transcriptions offer insights into non-verbal cues, visual jokes, and background activities, providing a richer experience and a greater sense of full participation.

Verbatim Transcription: What’s The Defining Difference?

Because verbatim transcription captures all audible sounds and spoken words, it adds a level of detail distinction and preserves layers of meaning that would otherwise be lost. On the other hand, an extensive record of the conversation can also be cumbersome to read due to the inclusion of non-essential elements, especially for people who are using screen readers or other forms of text-to-speech. The verbatim method works well for certain situations and scenarios, including legal proceedings and qualitative research. It can be used in creating accessible content for individuals with disabilities, but in this context, it is more useful for those with hearing disabilities rather than visual impairments.

In contrast, non-verbatim transcription simplifies the content, conveying the meaning of the spoken discourse or exchange rather than writing down every single word. This approach often omits filler words and grammatical errors, resulting in a smoother and more concise written document. While this style may be eminently suitable for business meetings, educational lectures, and general media use where the primary goal is to convey information efficiently, it often lacks the subtleties of communicative nuance and is low on details present in the original speech.

The correct choice, verbatim or non-verbatim transcription, will depend on transcription purpose and audience needs.

Two Verbatim Transcription Types

Within verbatim transcription, there are two main approaches:

  1. Full Verbatim: Unfiltered Information
    This method captures every single utterance in the recording, including spoken words, filler sounds (“um,” “uh”), stutters, hesitations, and background noises. It provides a complete and unedited record of the event, preserving the original speech's nuances, emotional cues, and rhythm. However, the resulting transcript can be lengthy and challenging to read due to the inclusion of non-essential elements.
  2. Clean Verbatim: Streamlined Style
    This approach prioritizes readability while maintaining accuracy. It captures all the essential content of the spoken word but removes disfluencies like filler words, stuttered phrases, redundancies, repetitions, and other non-essential elements. This makes the transcript easier to follow and navigate, while still preserving the core meaning of the conversation in a clear and concise format that’s both more readable, and more generally accessible. This format is ideal for situations like business meetings or medical consultations, where factual accuracy is of supreme importance.

What Is Intelligent Verbatim Transcription?

This is not a third transcription type. It is simply another term that is used synonymously with clean verbatim, meaning the type of transcription that offers a more refined and condensed record of spoken content. It removes extraneous elements like filler words and stutters, while maintaining the speaker's intent. 

Depending on speech speed and the transcriptionist’s style, either type of verbatim transcription may be preferred when working live. With a little more time to edit, intelligent or clean verbatim is a good choice, but it can add a fair amount of editing time and effort.

Verbatim in Action: Diverse Use Cases

Verbatim transcription offers significant benefits across various fields:

  • Legal Industry
    In court proceedings, depositions, and legal hearings, verbatim transcripts create a precise record of everything that is said. This is indispensable for capturing court proceedings, witness statements, and depositions with absolute accuracy, and providing a reference point for future actions. The precise record, including hesitations and tone, can influence the interpretation of testimony, making full verbatim a cornerstone of legal documentation.
  • Medical Field
    Detailed medical interviews, consultations, and therapy sessions can all be captured verbatim for accurate documentation and future reference. The clean verbatim transcription style is often used in the medical field, where clarity and brevity are paramount. Medical professionals rely on transcription to record patient consultations, surgery notes, and medical conferences; removing irrelevant verbal tics or redundancies helps focus on critical medical information.
  • Media and Entertainment
    Verbatim transcripts are used to caption live broadcasts, pre-recorded media including movies and TV shows, online videos, and interviews for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. They can also be used to create subtitles or closed captions for accessibility and foreign language translation. For this field, full verbatim transcription is often used. Capturing every spoken word, including non-verbal cues, allows viewers with hearing impairments to enjoy media content fully.
  • Academic Research
    Verbatim transcripts of lectures, seminars, and research discussions provide valuable data for researchers studying communication patterns, language development, or specific subject areas. In academic research, full verbatim transcription is critical for qualitative studies, including interviews and focus groups, where understanding the context, tone, and nuances of speech can lead to deeper insights. Clean verbatim style may be used for lectures and presentations where the focus is on the information conveyed.
  • Business and Marketing
    Verbatim transcripts of customer interviews, focus groups, and market research sessions allow businesses to capture every detail of customer feedback and analyze it thoroughly to gain valuable insights. As we’ve described above, focus groups may use full verbatim. Overall, however, clean verbatim transcription services are more widely used in business and marketing for transcribing meetings, conferences, and webinars. By removing the detritus of natural speech, clean verbatim transcripts provide clear, concise records that are easy to review and analyze.

Additional Use Cases

  • Accessibility Services
    Full verbatim transcription, including descriptions of non-verbal cues, is essential for creating accessible content for individuals with disabilities, providing inclusive access to information, education, and entertainment. 
  • Journalism
    Journalists use clean verbatim transcription to streamline interviews and press conferences into clearer, more readable and more polished articles that convey the essence of the conversation.
  • Legal Documentation and Compliance
    Businesses utilize clean verbatim transcription for regulatory compliance meetings and training sessions, resulting in clear, concise records that meet legal standards.
  • Law Enforcement
    Interviews with witnesses or suspects may be verbatim transcribed to keep all details precise.
  • Education
    Verbatim transcripts can be helpful for students with learning disabilities or those who struggle to take notes. If the student prefers to edit the transcript into a briefer style later, that’s their choice.
  • Government Meetings
    Public records of government meetings and hearings can be made more accessible through verbatim transcription. For these purposes, full verbatim transcripts are more likely to be used.

Common Challenges In Verbatim Transcription

Verbatim transcription, while valuable, faces some hurdles that frequently arise. Note that some solutions are best for use by manual transcription specialists who are working live and in-person, some work only for recorded materials, and some solutions are intended for use with different types of automated or semi-automated transcription software.

Background Noise

Description: Distracting background noise can make it difficult to understand certain words or phrases.

Solution: Use high-quality recording equipment, noise-canceling headphones, and software with noise reduction features.

Multiple Speakers

Description: Conversations with multiple speakers can be challenging to transcribe, especially if there is crosstalk or overlapping speech.

Solution: Use speaker identification software or employ transcription teams familiar with identifying individual voices.


Description: Strong accents can be difficult for automatic transcription software to recognize.

Solution: Use human transcriptionists experienced with various accents. Or, train speech recognition models on datasets that include a wider range of accents.

Technical Issues

Description: Recordings with poor audio quality or technical malfunctions can significantly complicate the transcription process.

Solution: Request a re-recording if possible, or use specialized software to enhance audio quality where feasible.


Description: Highly technical fields may have specific jargon or terminology that automatic transcription struggles with. Not all human transcriptionists will be familiar with it, either.

Solution: Use human transcriptionists with subject-matter expertise, or provide them with glossaries and reference materials to read up on ahead of time, and during transcription.

Rapid Speech

Description: Rapid speech can result in missed words or inaccuracies.

Solution: Slow-down playback features in some software allow transcriptionists to catch every word without altering the pitch, so they can offer accurate transcription even for rapid-fire audio.

Although perhaps only of use in certain educational situations, it is interesting to note that a 2021 study shared by ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, shows that Google Cloud Speech did a better job than manual transcribers at recognizing and transcribing spoken language for school-age children in a research context.

Verbatim Transcription Tools, Tech, & Options

Verbatim transcription methods using professional manual transcription specialists and advanced software solutions should be considered before making a decision. Often, the best solution is some combination of both.

Technical Tools, Skilled Technicians

Advanced Transcription Software
Automatic speech recognition (ASR) software has become increasingly sophisticated, offering improved accuracy and speaker identification capabilities. This type of software utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to transcribe audio accurately, including features for noise reduction, multi-speaker identification, and accent recognition.

Professional Transcription Services
Human transcriptionists provide the highest level of accuracy, especially for complex recordings or those with heavy accents or technical jargon. Trained professionals can navigate complex audio scenarios, providing high accuracy levels for legal, medical, and academic fields, where precision is critical.

Real-Time Transcription Services
In some cases, these services combine AI technology for speed with human oversight for accuracy, offering a balance between rapid turnaround and reliability. In others, the services offered are based on the skills of the transcriptionist, with some software used that may include shorthand options or other transcription-friendly features.

Custom Training
Organizations can use AI software and speech recognition APIs (application programming interfaces) to train transcription models on their specific audio types, terminology, and accents, improving the accuracy of automated transcription for unique or specialized content needs. When using human transcription specialists, training could involve a quick crash course on terminology and topics so that the subject matter is clearer, a general guide, or extended learning options.

Verbatim Transcripts For Accessibility: Web, Digital & Beyond

By providing a text equivalent of spoken content, verbatim transcripts allow individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the full range of information presented in audio or video formats. As well as its usefulness for those with hearing impairments, verbatim transcription can offer greater web and digital accessibility for those with:

  • Visual Impairments
    Text transcripts can be read aloud by screen readers, making digital content accessible to people with vision loss. And, transcripts can be offered in Braille formats, especially helpful for those who are DeafBlind.
  • Learning Differences
    People with auditory processing disorder (APD) can benefit from verbatim transcripts as an alternative way to receive information.

    Perhaps surprisingly, people with dyslexia may also find that verbatim transcription offers them an advantage: by reducing the need for decoding written words, it can allow them to focus on understanding the content directly. And, some people with dyslexia may benefit from seeing the words alongside the audio. This can help solidify the connection between the sounds they hear and the written symbols of words.
  • Cognitive Disabilities
    People with cognitive disabilities may find it easier to follow along with complex audio content by having a written reference through verbatim transcripts. And. transcripts can offer those with cognitive challenges an alternative way to engage with the information and improve comprehension.
  • Neurodevelopmental & Mood Disorders
    People with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as those with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), might find audio and video content overwhelming due to sensory sensitivities. Individuals dealing with anxiety or depression might similarly be overwhelmed by audio for other reasons, such as feeling overloaded and unable to cope. Verbatim transcripts allow for engaging with content in a more controlled and less sensory-stimulating format, at the preferred pace that the individual wishes to follow.

Transcription, especially verbatim transcription, can transform inaccessible audio or video content into a consumable text format, providing broader and more in-depth access to digital information for people with disabilities of all kinds.

Verbatim transcripts can also be a valuable resource for those who are learning English, or those unfamiliar with the languages spoken, allowing them to follow the audio content while reading along with the transcript. In these cases, verbatim transcripts can provide additional support mechanisms, creating a more inclusive digital experience.

4 Transcription Tips For Better Accessibility

Verbatim transcripts presented in digital or print formats can be optimized to further improve accessibility:

  1. Clear Formatting
    Use a clean, legible font with a clear distinction between speaker identification and the content of the speech. Keep transcripts well-structured and easy to read, with consistent layout, font sizing, and spacing.
  2. Headings and Timestamps
    Include headings or timestamps to break down the transcript into manageable sections, allowing for easier navigation and reference. Use headings and subheadings to structure the transcript, so users can find information quickly, whether they’re reading visually or with a screen reader.
  3. Speaker Identification
    Clearly identify each speaker, especially in situations with multiple participants. This can be done through bracketed names or abbreviations. Bear in mind that abbreviations may not be clear to screen reader users.
  4. Non-Verbal Cues
    For certain live lectures, meetings or performances, and for some audio and video content, include descriptions of non-verbal cues like laughter, background noises, or gestures to provide context for those who cannot access the audible or visual elements. The non-verbal cues that are most relevant to the content will be clearer depending on the situation.

Implementing these best practices in digital and online transcriptions not only improves accessibility for people with disabilities, it elevates the overall user experience, boosting inclusivity and equal access to information.

Verbatim Transcription: Documenting In Detail

Verbatim transcription has become a fundamental instrument for accessibility in communication and data recording across numerous sectors. It captures every audible detail in numerous situations, from legal proceedings to academic discussions, creating an invaluable record. This meticulous approach translates well to the digital world, making information in audio and video formats more accessible for people with hearing disabilities and other diverse needs.

By considering accessibility as an inherent part of the process, technology at large and transcription specifically can equitably present information, communication, learning and entertainment to a wider user base, creating a more inclusive environment where everyone can participate and contribute. We may hope that this approach will drive collective progress towards some of humanity’s greater shared goals, opening up worlds of information and experiences to audiences who could not access them before, so everyone can truly enjoy the results of advancements in technology and information accessibility.


Can verbatim transcription be used for live events?

Yes, real-time or live verbatim transcription services are available for events such as conferences, lectures, and webinars, providing instant access to spoken content for those who need it.

Top 5 Accessibility