Audio transcription – the process of converting recorded speech into text – isn’t the most glamorous topic. But there are many good reasons for transcribing videos. Here are just a few of them: Transcripts are easily indexable by search engines, increasing your opportunities to rank for long-tail keywords. Adding a transcript below your video content makes it more shareable, especially in combination with click-to-tweet plugins.
Aside from marketing-focused benefits, one of the best reasons for transcribing videos is to make your content accessible to all your users, including people who can’t hear the audio or see the video. Posting a transcript alongside a talking-head video, for instance, makes it possible for users with disabilities to read the text or listen to it using screen-reading technology.
The downside of transcribing videos yourself is that it can be a long and tedious process, cutting into time that might otherwise be spent creating. So I’m going to share a few of my favorite tools and tips for transcribing faster that I’ve picked up in my work as a professional transcriptionist.
Even with a crash course in touch typing and lots of practice, you may never be able to reach pro typing speeds of 80+ wpm. But with the help of technology, you can “artificially” increase your typing speed – in some cases by multiple times. Here are five tools you can use to do this: If you’re transcribing videos yourself, at the very least you’ll need to install special transcription software to enable audio playback using just your keyboard or a foot pedal.
The following transcription programs have limited free versions with affordably priced upgrades: Using a foot pedal to control playback is the easiest and fastest way to ramp up your transcription efficiency. I’ve heard several people, initially skeptical, say they don’t know how they ever managed to transcribe without one. Foot pedals take care of audio playback without the use of a mouse, eliminating the need to multitask with your fingers while transcribing.
If you decide not to invest in a foot pedal, you can configure your transcription program to control audio playback using the numeric keypad or function keys, which is still more efficient than using a mouse. Word expander programs, such as Instant Text by Textware Solutions and Shorthand for Windows by OfficeSoft, are another tool of the trade for professional transcriptionists - (⇨ view some video transcription services).
Word expanders let you define your own text shorthand for commonly used words and phrases, eliminating tons of keystrokes. For example, you might tell the program to expand “tsm” to “thanks so much.” If you don’t want to pay for a word expander program, you can also use your computer’s autocorrect feature to achieve the same thing – it works the same way, just with fewer features.
If you find that your fingers get fatigued during long typing sessions, try the “echo dictation” technique by re-dictating the audio and letting a VR program do the actual work of typing. While there are built-in speech recognition features for PC and Mac, I’ve had the most success using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
The latest version of Dragon, v15, costs a hefty $300. I’ve used several versions, and everything from version 11 onward works well. So, if you’d like to get your feet wet with echo transcription, consider getting an earlier version of the program for closer to $50. (Make sure to check for compatibility with your current setup - (⇨ discover the best video software).) Great tools can make your job a lot easier, but good technique is just as important.
If you know what you’re doing, you can fine-tune audio quality using an audio editing program like Audacity or WavePad before importing it into your transcription software - transcribe video to text. That said, you don’t have to be an audio wizard to enhance the audio quality of your videos: Some transcription programs ship with features designed to do just that.
The three options are: This feature works by eliminating sound below a certain volume threshold. It’s useful for when the background noise is quieter than the speakers. This setting boosts the volume by 10%. This feature comes in handy when you’ve maxed out the volume controls on your computer and you’re still straining to hear the audio.
Experiment with this feature on “muddy” sounding files, when the background noise is competing with the speakers. There may be times when you need to make note of the current time position in a video so you can go back and review it later. To do this, you can insert a timecoded tag into the transcript, such as such as [?? 00:07:02].
Using your transcription program’s timecode feature, you can copy the current audio position to the clipboard and insert it using a keyboard shortcut. Since I’m using Express Scribe, I’ll use it as an example here, but you can do this with any good transcription program. Go to Options > System-Wide Hot-Keys.
Now, whenever you press the assigned key, Express Scribe will make note of your current time location in the file (e.g., 00:07:02) and copy it to the clipboard. Then, whenever you want to paste the copied timestamp into your document, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + V. Repetitive typing of speaker labels can be a nightmare in video files with multiple speakers and lots of dialogue.
Here’s how to do this in Word 2016:Navigate to File > Options > Proofing (transcribe video). Click on “AutoCorrect Options.” On the AutoCorrect tab, the “Replace text as you type” check box should be selected. Here, you can enter shorthand text, which will be replaced with text of your choice whenever you press space or tab.
I could use the shorthand “sq” for a Speaker 2: tag, and so on. This only takes a couple minutes to set up, and it’ll save you thousands upon thousands of unnecessary keystrokes for future video transcriptions ((⇨ see our guide on how to transcribe video like a pro)). Using the above tools and techniques, I’ve managed to vastly improve the speed in transcribing videos with only a short learning curve.
If you haven’t wasted hours transcribing audio—endlessly replaying the same 30 seconds of the recording, cursing people’s inability to speak in full sentences—you’ve never transcribed audio. Or you’re a wizard.For the rest of us, there’s finally a transcribing solution. It’s free, easy, and requires no fancy apps, AI, or downloads—just Google Docs.Docs, Google’s free, cloud-based response to Microsoft Word, has a dictation software tool called Voice Typing (it comes pre-installed and requires no plugins).
The feature is intended for people who cannot easily type or who prefer to dictate notes, but you can also use it to cut the time it takes to transcribe an audio recording down to nearly the same time as the recording itself. Basically, you listen to the recording (either on your phone or computer) via earphones and speak the recording out loud as you listen.