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How to Record for Optimal Transcripts

In order for transcriptionists to perform their services most effectively, it is important to provide them with high quality audio files that are easy to understand and transcribe.  Below are some helpful do’s and don’ts when it comes to recording something you need or could potentially need to be transcribed.

If Dictating:

  • Enunciate clearly and speak at an optimal volume.
  • Dictate a “Test” dictation and play it back to ensure clarity prior to beginning.
  • Record in a quiet environment. It is important to be aware of your surroundings while recording; pay special attention to background noise such as fans, air conditioning units, other people talking, music, pets, children, or television. If you’re dictating at home and get interrupted, be sure to repeat what you said prior to the interruption or else rewind and re-dictate from the point just prior.
  • Record in a room free of echoes or reverberation; rooms with carpeted floors are best for optimal sound quality recordings.
  • Spell proper names that the transcriptionist may not be able to find through an internet search.

If Recording a Meeting, Focus Group, or other Proceeding:

  • Ensure that each person who will be speaking can be heard equally well. If possible, use area microphones or recording systems with multiple microphones to ensure each individual is heard intelligibly.
  • Appoint a facilitator for the proceeding who can remind participants that they are being recorded , to speak up, and to speak one at a time.
  • When recording in large groups, have each person state their name before speaking if they need to be accurately identified in the transcript.
  • Provide transcriptionist with paperwork or documentation that will help them produce the most accurate transcript: Meeting Agenda, Notice of Hearing, Announcement of Proceeding, Member Roster, etc.

Things to Avoid:

  • Do not speak in a rushed voice, a hushed voice, or a whisper, and do not mumble.
  • Do not “eat” the microphone. If you’re too close to the microphone, the result is a muffled dictation.
  • If recording in a group, do not interrupt one another or talk simultaneously.
  • Do not record in an environment with a lot of background noise such as loud speaker announcements or phones ringing. If this cannot be avoided, repeat what was said when the interruption occurs.
  • Do not provide transcriptionist with audio file recording a group without speaker identification if you need them to be identified on the transcript. Otherwise, the transcriptionist will be forced to identify speakers generically, such as “Male” or “Female”.


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