Why is Strict Verbatim Transcription so Important?

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Often called ‘true verbatim’, ‘full verbatim’ or ‘strict verbatim’, a verbatim transcript is one that transfers the spoken word, exactly how it is heard into text; word-for-word and letter-for-letter. A verbatim transcript includes every word, utterance and sound that is recorded; including pauses, laughter, coughs and any filler words such as “um”, “uh”, “like” and “you know”.

In contrast, intelligent verbatim or ‘non verbatim’ focuses on capturing the meaning of what is being said rather than how it is said. Intelligent verbatim transcripts will omit or adjust non-verbal sounds such as throat clearing and stuttering, as well as filler words, repeated words and any other irrelevant material.     

Here at McGowan Transcriptions, our team of highly-skilled transcriptionists have been providing true verbatim, as well as non verbatim transcripts for over 25 years; we understand the importance of delivering the appropriate transcript, and how insufficiently transcribed files can have a negative impact on your objectives. 

Read on to find out when and why strict verbatim transcription is necessary!  


Legal Transcription  

In 99.9% of cases, legal transcription should be completed in strict verbatim. When transcribing court documents, police interviews and legal documents, it is vitally important for transcribers to capture every single sound, verbal or not, in order to provide a full and true transcript of the audio or video file. Failing to include every sound in such recordings can have serious repercussions. 

Legal transcripts must:

Include all grammar (good and bad)

Although the use of idiosyncrasies and slang is not considered correct, legal transcripts should always include these as a matter of accuracy. Legal transcripts are often used by the police, investigators, solicitors and other legal professionals; and are commonly presented in courts of law during trials, depositions and police investigations, as well as hearings, jury instruction and legal briefings. 

Matters of the law require that all information is recorded accurately and presented correctly in order to paint a comprehensive picture of the situation and reduce the risk of misinterpretation.

Record all non-verbal communication and background noise

True verbatim transcripts should record all non-verbal communications, as well as ambient sounds and any laughing, crying and even passing traffic to present a complete picture of what was said, how it was said and the circumstances at the time of recording. 

These non-verbal clues, including nuance of voice, head-shaking and nodding can provide just as much, if not more information than spoken words, and as such must be included in all true verbatim transcripts. 

Include any filler words

Intelligent verbatim transcripts encourage the omission of filler words such as “um”, “uh”, “like” and “right”; however when transcribing legal documents these filler words are a key element of providing a true and accurate transcript.

Similar to non-verbal communication and background noise, filler words can provide a wealth of information to those involved and can be vital in establishing facts, determining liability and the outcome of criminal cases. Due to the nature of the industry, mistranscribed files can have an irreparable impact on any legal cases, depositions and investigations.    

Capture any false starts, coughs and stutters

Capturing every speaker utterance is the number one rule for verbatim transcription; this includes any coughs, false starts and stutters. 

While false starts may not seem important, they provide telling information to legal professionals and business owners alike and can play a crucial role in ensuring that justice prevails and an acceptable solution is reached.     


Group discussion & Interview Transcription 

As we touched upon earlier, communication is so much more than verbal; and this is exactly why strict verbatim transcription is the best kind of transcription for group discussion, market research and interview transcripts. 

When recording a group discussion or interview for market research, it is important to capture every word, sound and nuance in order to gain a true picture of the participant’s feelings towards your chosen product, topic or statement. False starts, filler words and long pauses are non-traditional indicators that can offer an invaluable insight into the thoughts and feelings of those involved.

These non-verbal communications assist the user in understanding the meaning, perception, and context to further clarify the words spoken. 


Medical Transcription 

Although not all medical files require true verbatim transcription, in a field where accuracy could quite literally mean the difference between life and death, in many cases capturing every word of what is being said is vitally important. Strict verbatim transcriptions are required when transcribing medical notes following a patient consultation or surgery, for test results, postmortems, pathology and many other functions.

The complex terminology used by medical professionals is unlike any business lexicon or legal jargon we find in many of our transcriptions. These medical transcripts can contain a combination of Greek and Latin prefixes, suffixes and root words; scientific parlance and laboratory values/figures, as well as varied and complex specialist medical terms.

Inaccuracy, missing a comma or omitting a full stop can completely change the meaning of what is being said, and change a patient’s diagnosis with potentially dire consequences. 


We are the UK’s leading digital transcription agency, with over 25 years of experience in providing strict verbatim transcriptions for thousands of happy clients in the legal, market research and medical fields. All of our professional transcriptionists are subject to comprehensive confidentiality agreements, and we are Cyber Essentials and GDPR compliant. 

For more information regarding our professional transcription services, click here.