Smart Verbatim vs. Pure Verbatim Transcriptions

March 27, 2018

Smart Verbatim vs. Pure Verbatim Transcriptions

Transcribing services are heavily utilized by many people and companies across different industries for various reasons - the most common one it being an easy, convenient data management solution especially market research transcriptions, corporate transcriptions, film production transcriptions, and even academic transcription services.

For starters, transcripts are mostly tailored to be direct and reader-friendly. You want to get to the good stuff quickly, so most transcription services usually remove unnecessary content such as false starts, filler words, and unrelated side conversations that clutter the transcript. This is called non-verbatim, which is the standard type of transcript. This refers to clean, easy-to-read transcripts. No paraphrasing is done in order to preserve the speaker’s original thought, just the pure conversion of dialogues into text without the “clutter”.

There are verbatim transcription services that offer formats that can be extremely helpful in court cases or market research transcriptions of interviews and focus groups, making sure that every thought is captured for review and analysis later on. There are also transcription services who cater to clients who want to capture every thought possible but without the unnecessary, meaningless fillers. From this need, we have identified two types of transcriptions that many might find confusing in terms of getting verbatim transcripts (some clients weren’t even aware that this was exactly what they needed!). Make the best of your recordings and identify what suits your needs or project requirements better by familiarizing yourself with these two types of verbatim transcriptions:

1. Smart Verbatim

With smart verbatim, every word heard from the audio is captured including false starts and interjections like “oops!” and “shhh!”. Slangs are also typed as is. For instance, “gonna” is not changed to its standard, more formal equivalent “going to”. Other words such as “okey-dokey”, “gotcha”, and “alrighty” are typed exactly the way it’s verbalized. Stutters or repeated words will also be transcribed as said, however, filler utterances such as “uhms” or “ahs” will be omitted.

2. Pure Verbatim

Like smart verbatim transcriptions, a pure verbatim transcript contains every word as delivered by the speaker. The only difference is that pure verbatim captures EVERYTHING including utterances also referred to as “non-words” or non-lexical conversational sounds such as eh, ah, uh-huh, uhm, hmm, and uh-hmm - which smart verb omits. Again, EVERYTHING is transcribed strictly as is including untidied grammatical errors, making it a genuine print-copy of your audio.  


Pure Verbatim

Hmm, yesterday - oh, I think I received the - the, you know, confidentiality agreement the other day and uhm, yeah, sent back the signed copy yesterday.

Smart Verbatim

Yesterday - oh, I think I received the - the, you know, confidentiality agreement the other day and yeah, sent back the signed copy yesterday.


I think I received the confidentiality agreement the other day and sent back the signed copy yesterday.

Both pure and smart verbatim transcriptions offer advantages useful for all kinds of needs - especially marketing researchers who extract insight from verbatim transcripts. Words omitted by non-verbatim transcriptions may seem meaningless but these actually denote the speaker’s thinking and emotions like hesitation, excitement, confusion, uncertainty, and frustration which factors to the findings of multitude qualitative studies and/or other purposes. You must therefore keep in mind a very crucial step when looking to get transcriptions done: do you need non-verbatim, smart verbatim, or pure verbatim transcriptions?

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