Month: December 2019

Dictation and Transcription Explained

What is dictation and transcription

Dictation is defined as “the action of dictating words to be typed up, written down or recorded”.  Historically, a professional such as a doctor or lawyer would dictate correspondence or reports to their secretary in their office and their secretary would record this in “short-hand” (an abbreviated symbolic writing system) which would allow them to type what was said on their typewriter/PC.

Transcription on the other hand is a “written record”.  This is less of a formal written document rather than a written record of what happened, not just what was said but all noises including background noises. 

There are two types of transcription: strict verbatim and intelligent verbatim:

Strict Verbatim: includes all utterances (such as coughs, laughter), fillers, repeated words, non-standard language (such as ain’t) and background noises.  This written record should be a true reflection of the recording. 

Intelligent Verbatim: this is just a record of what was said but excludes repeated words, fillers (such as “you know”) and background noises.

You might use strict verbatim if you were analysing a focus group, an interview or coaching session if for example you were interested in how things were said not just what was said.  However intelligent verbatim might be used to record board minutes or a podcast when you are more interested in what was said.

How is it done?

As technology has developed, how dictation and transcription is recorded has changed.  Whilst minute taking is still a valuable skill to have there is no need for a PA to be present when dictating as things have gone digital. 

Whilst big companies may use specialist dictation equipment, no special equipment is required to record your sound files.  In fact, most phones have apps that can record sound files.  iPhones have the “Voice Memos” app and there are many voice recorders apps for Android phones in the Google Play Store.  There are even Olympus Dictation even do their own app which is compatible with their transcription hardware.

Online video conferencing can also be used to record sound files for example, Zoom video conferencing has an option (even on the free version) to record the sound file.

There are even apps/software and websites that utilise voice recognition software to convert sound files to text.  Whilst voice recognition software works and accuracy levels are increasing as the technology develops it can’t always cope with accents or poor sound files.  It also doesn’t format text into a document so it may not be suitable for every type of transcription/dictation.

So why dictate?

Quite simply dictating should save you massive amounts of time (if you do it properly).  One source puts it as 7 times as fast as typing yourself. Dictating should allow you to concentrate on the content which you are writing about rather than the act of typing.  You should also spend less time formatting as your dictation will be formatted as per your instructions as it is typed.

What can I dictate or get transcribed?

Quite simply you can dictate or transcribe any sound file you want written down or read.  Below are a few examples of what dictation and transcription can be used for:

  • letters, emails, newsletters or any type of correspondence;
  • documents, reports, presentations, power point slides etc;
  • site notes/inventories: instead of trying to decipher your handwritten notes, dictate on the go;
  • instructions: dictation isn’t just for typing.  You can also use it to give instructions too.  Imagine driving from one meeting to the other and being able to record your instructions for follow up whilst you are travelling.  How much time would that save?
  • market research/research: recording focus groups or interviews for analysis;
  • counselling and coaching sessions can be recorded or analysed at a later date and passed onto the coachee after the session;
  • recording business or employment meetings;
  • if you use videos/podcasts for your social media or online courses/training.  You can add subtitles (and tags) to videos or provide a written transcript of the video/podcast to ensure that it is accessible to everyone. 
  • Similarly you can use repurpose your content.  You can change a podcast into a newsletter or blog.


Quite frankly there are loads of ways to use dictation or transcription to help you save time (and effort) for your business. 

I am an experienced and accurate typist who can turn complete dictations and transcriptions quickly and easily with competitive rates.  Don’t just take my word for it check out my testimonials.

If you would like to know more or have files for dictation or transcription please get in contact today.

I look forward to catching you up next month.