To Transcribe or Direct Translate

Many of our clients require transcription services.  By converting their audio into text they can make the content searchable and usable in many different ways.  We’ve transcribed in-depth-interviews, focus groups, legal proceedings, physician’s reports, marketing videos, public service announcements and many other audio and video files.

Yet, many can be unsure of the differences between monolingual transcription, direct translation, and translation with transcription.  Following is a transcription tutorial on their differences and what you will receive as the final deliverable for each service.

Transcription TutorialMonolingual Transcription: This is taking an audio file in any language and providing the text (transcription) in the same language.  This does not require translation.  The client receives a written document in the same language as the audio file.

Direct Translation: This is a single-step process during which a linguist listens to the original audio file and directly translates it into the target language. A document with the text in the needed (target) language is the final objective and the only deliverable to the client.  This eliminates the extra step of first transcribing the audio in the original, source text. Depending on audio quality and topic, additional charges for editing may apply.

Transcription and Translation: This is a two-step process.  First the audio will be transcribed in its original (source) language.  Then a translator will translate the transcription into the needed target language.  The client receives one document in the language of the audio (transcription) AND one document in the target language (translation).

There are several items to consider when requesting any of these transcription or translation services.  We find it helpful to gather as much information as possible at the outset of a transcription project.  This helps to ensure a higher quality deliverable that is delivered on-time and within budget.

  • Check the audio files thoroughly before starting the project. Poor audio quality can delay the process for transcription and/or direct translation and may require additional time and expenses to deliver transcripts.
  • Know the needed format of the final deliverables (WORD, PDF or another file format) and whether rolling delivery for larger audio transcription projects is preferred.
  • Know if there is a style guide for the transcription. Similar to translation projects there may be a preferred guide to follow that matches either project, client or regulatory requirements.
  • Confirm if the transcription needs to be time-coded. Transcriptions with time coding are typically needed for transcriptions with multiple speakers, such as focus groups, and will include a specific format.  This can also increase the turnaround time and cost of the transcription.
  • Agree on a realistic and set delivery schedule.

We hope you found value in our transcription tutorial.  We encourage you to learn more about our transcription services, or contact us at for more information.