How to Be a More Productive Transcriber

Productive typist

Being a transcriber can be one of the most fascinating jobs in the world, simply because every day is different, and you never know, at the start of the day, what tasks await you. If you’ve been thinking about joining us here at Take Note, or are already one of our transcribing elves looking for some advice, here are some tips from team members Owen and Alison on how to be a productive transcriber!

Work at a desk

This seems obvious, but it can be tempting when you work from home to hang around in your PJs all day and work from bed. Putting yourself in a work like situation (and clean clothes!) will focus your mind a lot better than being nestled in a snuggly, warm blanket will.

Use comfortable headphones

This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, but we all know what it can be like to wear painful headphones for extended periods of time, so make sure you get ones that work well for you. Owen uses Skullcandy Jib, only £6 on Amazon, and says, ‘Get a couple of spare pairs, so you won’t be out of action if they break suddenly.’ Or check out our guide to headphones for transcription for under £50.

Give yourself a break

It can be tempting to try and get through a whole day’s work in one go, but when you hit the wall, take that as a sign it’s time for a break. Maybe get outside for some fresh air and stretch your legs, or get some food in you. Both you and your work will suffer if you try running on empty.

Avoid screen glare and headaches

Anyone who works in front of a screen all day knows how horrible it is when you get a headache, but there are several ways you can lessen the chances of that happening. Owen suggests playing around with your computer display settings: ‘I’ll often use the night light function if I’m struggling with a file, as the white background in Word can really get to me sometimes.’ Fellow team member Alison also recommends f.lux: ‘It reduces the blue light from your laptop and changes the colour of your screen according to the time, and it’s free! I’ve definitely noticed my eyes getting less tired while using this.’

Understand the importance of posture

Another cause of headaches can be poor posture or positioning whilst working at a computer. Make sure that your screen is at eye level and that you’re not having to look up or down at it, as this will cause neck ache over time. Likewise, your desk should be at a height that allows your elbows to rest naturally on it, so as to form a L-shape in each arm. You may also wish to purchase yourself a wrist support for typing. When I first starting working as a transcriber, I found my wrists were getting sore from the long days at a keyboard, but that soon went away with the help of a wrist support, available from Amazon for under £10. For more information on best posture in front of a computer, the NHS has a really helpful guide.

Learn shortcuts for faster typing

One of the most important aspects of being a transcriber is speed and efficiency, and setting up shortcuts in Word and the Typist app on (Take Note’s internal) Portal 2 can help immensely with this. Owen suggests playing around with AutoCorrect: ‘I have some of the common filler phrases set up. So, for example, if I type “yk” then Word will automatically change it to “you know” and I can just carry on typing as normal. Likewise, if you find typing colons annoying for speaker ID, you could set up something to deal with that. The possibilities are endless!’ Alison suggests trying Breevy, a text expander that works in a similar way: ‘I think I paid about £30 for it but it’s worth every penny. You can get it to tab, embolden/italicise/underline, put paragraphs or timecodes in, change case, open folders or websites, loads of stuff!’

Final nuggets of wisdom?


“I definitely didn’t think I needed a foot pedal until I tried one out!”


“If you have any problems at all with a file, let us know straight away. It’s honestly 100% less stressful for everyone, and not being stressed is a great way to be more productive in the long run….”

Thanks to Alison and Owen for the advice, and if this has whet your appetite and you’re interested in becoming a transcriber at Take Note, find out more information here.

Take Note

Take Note is a UK-based transcription service with world-class customer support alongside the highest standards of security and ethics. We deliver a comprehensive range of transcription services including Audio and Video Transcription, Video Captions and On-Site Note Taking.