Verbatim Transcripts vs. Non-Verbatim Transcripts: How to Get the Transcription Service You Need

Verbatim vs non verbatim trasnscription service

Verbatim Transcripts vs. Non-Verbatim Transcripts: How to Get the Transcription Service You Need

When it comes to transcriptions, verbatim seems like the obvious option to request. After all, you want to know exactly what people said, don’t you?

It’s likely that if you’ve used transcription services in the past, you haven’t actually received a ‘strict’ verbatim transcript and you probably don’t need one either. 

There are many more transcript formats out there that could be better suited to your needs. To make sure you get the right level of information and get the best value for your money when using transcription services, you need to know your options.

What makes this slightly confusing is a lack of standard industry terms. Some providers offer a ‘draft’ version which may not add much value for the cost. Then there’s the difference between verbatim and non-verbatim transcripts. Common terminology, outcomes and what your transcript will look like are exactly what we cover here. Let’s get stuck in.  


A full-verbatim transcript includes everything — and we do mean everything, it’s a true verbatim transcript. Every ‘urm’, every ‘ah’, and every gasp will be present. You can even go further than this and get annotations which include tone of voice, laughter and much more.

It is the most comprehensive and expensive option available. Even repeated and filler words are included, so if you want a record of everything that was uttered, including false starts, stutters etc this is definitely the right route to take.

Be aware though that this will only be suitable in specific situations. For most people, it will be complete overkill and involve sifting through pages of irrelevant information. If you are using the transcript as a resource, it can make it more complicated and time-consuming to review. You might even end up having to do a lot of editing if you plan to share the transcript with others or use segments of text in reports.

You might have guessed that a full-verbatim transcript will be useful when the little details do matter. For instance, legal matters, negotiations and court proceedings could all mean that a full-verbatim transcript will be required.

It’s also possible that you want this type of transcript when dealing with finances where accountability is crucial. In these scenarios, gaining only the gist of the information would actually make the resource far less valuable.

If you do decide to opt for full-verbatim transcripts, consider the service provider carefully. For example, a UK-based human transcription service will be able to cater to unique dialects and regional accents.

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Verbatim: AKA Intelligent Verbatim (without the umms and errs!)

Typically, Verbatim or Intelligent Verbatim will be the option chosen by most clients. It is largely considered the industry standard. So, if you don’t specify what type of transcript you want, this is the solution that most companies will deliver. It may also be referred to as simply ‘verbatim’, ‘word-for-word’ or ‘clean-verbatim’. 

Here, a significant level of the typically useless information is cut out by a professional editor. So, there are no ‘ums’ and ‘errs’, which provides a more succinct final resource. The result is a clean and clear output, that still delivers all the relevant word-for-word information. It is suitable for every type of business requirement, outside of legal proceedings, including where text analytics is being used on the transcript.

With this option you don’t get any fluff and it is often cheaper to produce than a full-verbatim transcript. As such, it provides fantastic value for money and it’s easier to read. You spend less time siphoning through repeated words, breaks in the conversation and all the other irrelevant details that don’t matter to you.

Detailed Notes

A step above verbatim, here the transcript will be edited to be on point and on topic. 

If a speaker has headed off on a tangent or stopped to make a joke, this will likely be removed. Indeed, all chitchat is eliminated while non-critical sections are provided as summaries. This includes interview questions, which may be cut down to reflect the actual question only.

You might be worried about missing out crucial info here, but if you find an experienced transcription supplier they should be well trained in understanding what’s on-topic and some even specialise in Market Research.    Typically you can also provide context to ensure it’s known what elements are of interest. For example, if you’re having a focus group transcribed, you can say you’re happy to skip the initial chatter where everyone is arriving, getting settled and you’re running through the housekeeping rules. You can suggest what information is relevant to you and ensure that it is included within the transcript. Similar to Intelligent Verbatim, the final resource is easier and faster to read with a shorter, to the point solution.

Since these transcripts are shorter and easier to produce, they are available at lower price points. As such, you can get an efficient transcript with the main points present without spending a lot of money. And, this gives you back more time to analyse and interpret your transcript.

Detailed Notes & Quotes

Take Note also offers a unique add-on service to Detailed Notes – Detailed Notes & Quotes. This gives you the succinct transcript with key segments of text highlighted for you. 

Ideal for market research projects, this can help you get to the content and themes that matter the most. This obviously won’t produce the insight for you but can help you to fast-track the analysis phase.

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Summary Transcription Services

With this option, you won’t be provided with a significant level of detail. Instead, the transcript is focused on providing a summary of a particular recording or typically, a set of recordings. By exploring these summaries, you will be able to ascertain which ones need to be transcribed in full, so you don’t waste your time and budget on unnecessary transcriptions. 

It is important to note that this is usually a starting point before you order additional transcription services. 

With summary transcripts, it is vital that the transcriber understands the information they are working with. This is why it is essential that an industry expert is chosen — the level of quality here will differ from service to service.

Unfortunately, you are unlikely to have a clear idea of how much of the information is going to be summarised before the final product is delivered. Due to this, it may not be an ideal option, even as a jumping-off point. Instead, consider Detailed Notes or Verbatim to ensure you don’t waste valuable time.

Rough Notes/Draft

Rough notes or a draft transcript is another option which is often enticing due to the lower price point. Here, the transcriber will work to note down as much information as they can from a particular recording without relistening to any part of it.

Unfortunately, there is no set standard followed for completing this type of service. Therefore, quality can differ drastically from one solution to the next. While one might provide detailed notes, another could offer very little relevant information.

The whole process becomes unpredictable, which isn’t an issue you want to deal with, particularly if you’re on a tight deadline. The chances of gaining a high-quality transcript are slim, so this is an undesirable option because you will always be rolling the dice.

Getting a transcript that suits your particular needs

We hope this has provided you with the information you need to determine which transcript option is right for you. 

For legal matters or financial considerations, where minor details can be crucial, full verbatim will be necessary and worth the additional cost. However, if you want a lower-cost legal transcription and a more succinct final product to get to the most valuable content quickly,  Detailed Notes is the best option, including the ability to have key quotes highlighted for the quickest solution on the market.

Remember, using a UK transcription service will generally ensure higher levels of compliance and data security  (look for ISO 9001 and ISO27001 accreditation as well GDPR practices) whilst also significantly reducing your security risk if content is only visible to those producing the transcript.

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We hope this article has helped you understand more about the differences between verbatim and non-verbatim transcripts. To find out more about getting the right transcript for you, please follow our transcription blog.

Or, if you like to get prices or try a service, get an instant quote.

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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.