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Verbatim transcription
Verbatim transcription

What is full verbatim transcription and what are Happy Scribe's guidelines for it?

Boris Simonse avatar
Written by Boris Simonse
Updated yesterday

Full verbatim transcription, or simply "Verbatim", is a detailed transcription style that captures every verbal and non-verbal clue of an audio file. It typically includes utterances such as ums, ahs, false starts, stutters, and even laughter or sighs.

This meticulous approach ensures that the transcript is a true-to-life representation of the original recording.

How does it differ from Clean Read?

In contrast, clean-read transcription, also known as non-verbatim or intelligent transcription, focuses on readability and clarity. This style involves editing out filler words, false starts, and various noises irrelevant to the overall content. The result is a polished, concise, and easy-to-read document that conveys the essence of the spoken word without the clutter of verbatim details, but that also makes it a more reduced representation of the actual audio.


Full verbatim

Clean read

"Well, um, I-I think-- no, actually, I'm sure that the project will be, uh, completed by, um, next Monday."

"Well, um, I-I think-- no, actually, I'm sure that the project will be, uh, completed by, um, next Monday."

"I'm sure that the project will be completed by next Monday."

Both transcription styles have their benefits and whichever you require simply depends on your preferences!

Common uses of Verbatim transcription

Full verbatim transcription is particularly valuable in scenarios where the manner of speech is as important as the words themselves. This includes:

  • Legal proceedings, where every utterance can be critical.

  • Qualitative research, where the nuances of responses can lead to deeper insights.

  • Journalism, where accurately capturing public figures' speech patterns can add depth to stories.

  • Psychology and psychiatry sessions, where speech patterns can be indicative of mental states.

Verbatim guidelines

In a nutshell, this is how our transcribers are asked to format elements in verbatim.



Filler words

Included and offset by commas.
(e.g. "Like, so, uh,")

Interjections and swear words

Interjections: included like any other word.
Swear words: not censored, with capital letters and exclamation marks, unless they're adjectives.
(e.g. "Dammit!")

Feedback words

Included like any other word.
(e.g. "Mm-hmm. Mm-mm")

Informal contractions

Spelled according to the language's dictionary / generally accepted spelling
(e.g. "boutta, gonna, shoulda…")


Followed by a single hyphen for every stutter occasion, no extra space.
(e.g. "I-I brought you flowers.")


Offset by commas
(e.g. "Where, where on earth")

False starts

Followed by two hyphens and a space.
(e.g. "It's impossible-- I mean, it's unlikely.")

Trailing off

Followed by an ellipsis.
(e.g. "I just bought… I forgot what I bought.")

Grammar mistakes

Not corrected.

Pronunciation mistakes


Non-verbal communication and voice alterations

Included if the speaker changes their voice or has an emotional response using their mouth.
Always lower-case between brackets within the same sentence. Verb tense is always present continuous.

(e.g. "This is… (laughing) how it went.")
(e.g. "(in a low voice) We've been waiting for this.")

Ambient sounds

Not included.


Our usual Happy Scribe tags will be special verbatim tags to make the entire transcript look more cohesive.

  • [inaudible 00:00:000] (inaudible) or (mumbling)

  • [crosstalk 00:00:000] (crosstalking)

  • [foreign language 00:00:000] (speaking foreign language)

    • if you can figure out the foreign language, please include it. e.g. (speaking French)

  • [song 00:00:000] (song playing)

Questions or special requirements? Feel free to reach out to

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