Podcast Transcription Guideline in 2023

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Following a podcast transcription format guide will help make your show notes accessible to a wider audience. Although readers won’t often look for specific formats in transcriptions, it’s beneficial nonetheless.

In this article, you’ll find the best practices for a podcast transcription format. Make sure you follow these every time you create a text file for your podcast.

Why Follow a Podcast Transcription Format?

Creating podcast transcriptions improves the accessibility of your show. It can also help with SEO, providing the transcription appears on the same page as the podcast itself.

But why follow a set format for your podcast transcriptions? A style guide helps with:

  • Professionalism. Having a uniform appearance for your podcast transcription is professional and shows you take it seriously, rather than treating it as an afterthought.
  • Consistency. A podcast transcription format forms part of your brand identity, as it’s related to the content you put out. Therefore, you should keep it consistent and in line with your other marketing efforts.
  • Sharing work. If you plan to create transcriptions, having a format means anyone can do the work. For example, if you’re on vacation, someone can create the transcription using your style.

All this effectively boils down to consistency, for both readability and brand image. Again, a podcast transcription format isn’t necessarily something your readers (and listeners) will notice, but that means it’s doing its job. It’s better for readers to not notice because all your transcriptions look the same than it is for them to pick up on glaring errors.

How Do You Write a Transcript for a Podcast?

You can either create a podcast transcription manually or automatically. Manually involves typing out the audio content and then assigning speakers and timestamps. Doing it automatically involves uploading the recording to an automatic tool and then editing the text file it creates.

Which method you use depends on your budget and time allowance:

  • Manual transcription is cheaper (i.e., free) but takes more time. It’s only ever as accurate as your listening ability.
  • Automatic transcription is quicker but costs money. However, accuracy can be up to 99% and there’s minimal involvement on your part.

The podcast transcription format guidelines below will work for both manual and automatic transcriptions, as it’s work done in the final editing stages of the text document.

Podcast Transcription Format Walkthrough

Make sure you follow these every time:

  1. Make sure you create a new paragraph whenever a new speaker starts. There should be at least one full line break between speakers for extra clarity.
  2. Leave a line break/paragraph break between when a speaker talks as themselves or as a character or when quoting. If it’s a long quote (more than 3 sentences), separate it as a full intended paragraph.
  3. Don’t indent standard paragraphs (for normal speech). Instead, start each speaker with their name and timestamp, and then include a full line break after each paragraph.
  4. If you need to describe non-verbal sounds (such as music or sound effects), include them in a separate paragraph with square brackets around them.
  5. Speaker names and timestamps should also be in square brackets and bold text, with the timestamp following the hour:minute:second format.
Podcast transcripts are beneficial for your outreach

Example of a Podcast Transcription Format

If these tips sound confusing on their own, here is an example of them in a transcription:

[00:10:46 Ben]: Okay, so now I’ll quote from a write-up by author Geraldine Heng on how historians understand race to work in the Middle Ages:

Race was more than just the color of someone’s skin. It was also about the religion they followed and the culture to which they belonged. As such, two people of the same “ethnicity” (in modern terms) could be seen as different races because they came from opposing social groups.

As you can see, Heng believes that race was so much more than just skin color.

[00:12:20 Angela]: That’s really interesting, considering it’s so different from our modern ideas of race.

How to Increase the Readability of the Transcript?

Podcast transcriptions are written versions of an audio file. However, to make them more readable, you should establish at what point you stop writing out the speech and instead convert it into written language.

For example, decide whether you want to include filler words (umm, like, etc.), stutters, and stumbles. These all make a transcript feel like written speech but can make it harder to read. If you’re transcribing someone who pauses frequently, your readers might have difficulty understanding the point of their speech.

Also, follow these tips for a more readable transcription:

  • Avoid italics wherever possible. You should still use them for book and film titles, but italics are hard to read, so limit their use.
  • Break up long sections of speech into paragraphs, even if it’s all from the same speaker. Follow the normal rules for paragraphs – breaks should occur when a topic changes.
  • If a person or character hasn’t been named before they first speak, use a descriptor instead. For example, “speaker 2” or “shopkeeper”.
  • Nothing is stopping you from including filler words and stutters in your podcast transcription format, but ensure it’s readable and consistent.
  • Use square brackets for important non-verbal markers: [laughs] and “…” when someone trails off or “—” when someone is cut off.

Frequently Asked Questions about Podcast Transcription Format

What are the basic rules a transcriber should follow?

For your podcast transcription format, make sure you follow the audio. Don’t include extra information and don’t paraphrase. Only tidy up sections that would confuse the reader. Finally, choose a version of English (e.g., British or US) and stick to it.

Why do podcasts need transcripts?

A podcast transcript is helpful for people who can’t (or might not want to) listen to the audio file. Also, it can help with SEO, and you can use the transcript for creating other marketing content.

Where do you put transcription in a podcast?

Ideally, you should host the podcast and transcription on the same webpage. If this isn’t possible, include the transcription in the podcast’s show notes.