Transcription Style Adapted from Casting Words

We want you to produce an accurate and readable transcript.This means do not transcribe verbatim but be accurate. Leave out false starts and non-sense words but transcribe exactly what the speaker says not just the general idea of what they said.

Required Guidelines

Speaker Labeling

Speaker name and colon start each new speaker. If there is a time-stamp it goes before the speech, after the colon. Label speakers with their first and last name the first time they appear. Label them with just the first name after that. If you do not know a speaker’s name use a descriptive name such as “Man 1:”, “Woman 1:”, “Host:”, “Interviewer:”, etc. Do not use “Male:”, “Female:” or non-descriptive labels such as “Speaker 1:”.

Only re-label the speaker when the speaker changes or after a block non-verbal (A non-verbal that has a blank line above it and below it).


Jerry Coleman: This is the beginning of the transcription so I am labeled with my full name.

John Gale: Right, but after the first time you will be labeled with only your first name right? Jerry: Correct. As you can see I am labeled with just my first name now and will be labeled the same throughout the transcript.Man 1: Hi, I’m a new speaker and no one ever mentions my name so the transcriber should simply give me a descriptive name. In this case the only information that can be gathered on me is that I’m male so I’m “Man 1:”John: Ah, cool.


The rules are simple but important. Thanks for your attention.

  • Speaker name and colon start each new speaker.
  • Put a blank line between speakers.
  • Put a blank line between paragraphs of the same speaker.
  • Do NOT use new lines to format the lines of text. Use word wrap. If your transcript looks all disfigured when you paste them, you did not use word wrap and you need to fix the transcript before you submit.

Special Tags


Mark unintelligible and inaudible words and phrases with “[xx]”. Marking parts with “[xx]” will only hurt your grade if the grader can understand what was said where the “[xx]” is. But inaccurately transcribing the section instead of marking as “[xx]” will hurt your grade much worst then an semi-audible part marked with it.

Note: Editors must remove all “[xx]” tags from the transcript. If they cannot figure out what is said they must mark it as [indecipherable] or [unintelligible].


John: I was going out to the [xx] and a pack of buffalo were on the opposite hillside.


Use “[sp]” if you are unsure of a term or names spelling. You should not mark any words that can easily be looked up with [sp] and remember to always use spell check on your transcript before you submit it.

Note: Editors must remove all “[sp]” tags after double checking and researching (if necessary) the term/name.


John: I went out to

Wichita [sp] to see an old friend.


If you are pretty sure of what was said but not completely sure you should mark it with “[?]” this will tell an editor that they should closely review the section of text that it comes after.

Note: Editors must remove all “[?]” tags after they have reviewed and correct the text that the tag marked.


White: I went out to a baseball game [?] at midnight.


Anything that occurs on the recording but isn’t represented by what is said should be marked in brackets.

Everything in brackets should be lower-case unless it is a proper noun.


  • [bell ringing] (or other description)
  • [laughter] (or other description)
  • [musical interlude]
  • [radio break]
  • [song]
  • [song: Happy Birthday by John Petersman]
  • Host: [1:45] I went out to Wichita. (If requested)

Preferred Guidelines (Follow these to get a high grade)


Spell things the same way each time, even if it’s incorrect. It’s easier for an edit to correct 1 mistake repeated nine times then nine unique mistakes.

Cleanup the Transcript (But don’t Paraphrase!)

Don’t Transcribe Filler Words

This means that you should “translate” speech into writing by leaving out filler words like “um”, “uh”, “like”, and “kind of”, while still keeping the personality and meaning of the original utterance.

If the filler words contribute to the meaning and tone of the speaker, leave them there. But in almost all cases, they are a distraction in written language and should be left out.

Clean up Verbal Stumbling but Retain the Speaker’s Tone

It’s OK to occasionally clean up grammar but the transcript must be an accurate representation of what was said.

Start Each Line with a Capital Letter

Use proper punctuation. This means periods, commas, capitalization of proper nouns, everything just like your English teacher taught you.

Spell Out One through Nine but use Numerals over Nine

So use nine not 9. But if the number is over nine use numerals such as 10.

Use “…” to mark a break

Such as a speaker breaking off mid-sentence, starting mid-sentence. If the audio cuts off mark it as [cuts off] (see non-verbals).

Don’t Transcribe Radio Commercial Breaks

There is no need to transcribe radio commercial breaks unless specifically requested; simply mark the break as [radio break].

Use written form for URLs and spelled-out names

Even if the speaker spells out the name for clarity use the written version.

“Hello, I’m John Smythe” not “Hello, I’m

John Smith, that’s S-M-I-T-H.”
“Go to” not “Go to F-U-T-U-R-E-G-E-N dot S-G”

Use Word Wrap!

Do not break lines at 80 columns; just keep typing and allow the software to do the line wraps. Separate paragraphs with a blank line, not with a tab. If you are not using word wrap the transcript will become broken and awkward when you shrink the window instead of nicely adjusting to the new size.

Have Short Paragraphs

Keeping paragraphs down to 500 characters or 4 or 5 lines is ideal. Sometimes this can’t be done, but monster paragraphs will affect scores, as they affect readability.

Transcribe according to the template.

Each client will have different format rules. Follow the template that will be included in the assignment. Follow the file naming convention. If in doubt, ask!


Editors: check the spelling of proper names against resources such as the podcast’s website.

Preferred Spellings






all right



One thought on “Transcription Style Adapted from Casting Words”

  1. Let me share the questions and the answers from Lynn:

    I have a few questions.

    1. For numeric 10 and onwards, I use numerals instead of words right? For e.g. 11, I use 11? And 8, I use eight? Correct.

    2. For percentage, like 4%, I use 4% instead of four percent right? For 90%, I use 90% instead of ninety percent? Correct.

    3. For 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, I use first, second, third and fourth right? How about for 65th anniversary, do I use 65th or sixty-fifth? Do I follow the numeric rule? Yes, please follow the numeric rule with 10 as the cutoff.
    this means that you need to spell out first through ninth but use numerals over ninth (10th, 11th, 12th … 99th, 100th.

    4. Is non-verbal like laughter important? Because in a tape, laughter appears very often so do I use [laughter] for all the laughter I hear?
    Sometimes it is necessary so that the reader knows the state of mind of the speaker when the audio was spoken.

    5. Are “you know”, “sort of”, “well”, “all right” and “ok” filler words?
    Not necessarily. Mostly we refer to filler words as those like:
    uhms. uh. etc. (Unless the uh uh is needed to signify that the speaker agrees to a particular point. (in which case we usually let it slide)

    6. There is a table of preferred spellings in the guide. Do I always following that table? For e.g. color, I normally use British spelling “colour” instead of American spelling “color”. I also use “alright” in the past, so do I change to
    using “all right”? For local tapes, do I use British or American spelling?
    Mostly it will depend on our client. We do have British clients, so we need to use british english for those.

    7. The guide mentioned – if you can change the “its” in your sentence to “his”. Does it mean that strictly no “its” in transcripts? For e.g. “The dog is going back to its home.” Do I use “The dog is going back to his home.”?
    Nope. The guideline merely give you a ‘test’ if the sentence makes sense with the use of ‘his’, then ‘its’ is appropriate. It does not mean that you should substitute HIS to ITS.

    The most common error is between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ (the contraction of it is)

    8. For title like “Dr”, do I use “Dr” or “Dr.” (with or without a full-stop after Dr)? For title “Miss”, do I use “Miss” or “Ms”? For title “Madam”, do I use “Madam” or “Mdm”? In case of doubt i would spell out the word. ( I will have to consult the Chicago Manual of style on this one thought)

    9. For title of a book or movie, are the following style/format correct? (with quotes round the title and capital letter for every word) I love the movie “I Am Legend”. I love to watch the latest TCS show “The Golden Path”. My favorite book is “The Road Less Traveled”.


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