Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to transcribe a one hour tape?

Transcribe-It, Inc. charges most of their services on an hourly basis using Industry Production Standards. Industry Production Standards are guidelines that have been published by the Association of Business Support Services International, Inc. And the Executive Suite Association for computing time as one factor in calculating charges for document production and non-keyboarding services. IPS standards are based on average time required in the performance of specific duties by a professional information processing operator and calculated in 6-minute (or 0.1 hr.) increments.  The standards allow one hour to transcribe 15 minutes of actual recorded speech that has been dictated clearly.

An example would be that it takes a minimum of four (4) hours to transcribe a one hour tape and could take up to 6 to 8 hours depending on the quality of the tape.  Focus groups, meetings, conferences and seminars could take much longer to transcribe because of multi voices/speakers and the quality of the tape, i.e. language, technical terms, etc.

2. Why does it take so long?

Many people assume that a one hour tape would take one hour to transcribe.  That is a misconception.  We talk faster than we type; therefore the accepted norm is that we speak four times faster than a person can actually type and we speak seven times faster than we write.  Therefore, we recommend that clients have their tapes professionally recorded in order to insure a good quality tape, because tape quality affects the time involved in transcribing.

3. What factors determine the length of time it takes to transcribe a tape?

The most important determining factor is the quality of the recording.  Things that affect recording quality are: how it was recorded, background noises, speakers that speak too low, the volume setting, the microphone used or the brand of tape being used. 
The speakers voices are another factor, some speakers are too far from the microphone, they mumble, talk too fast or too slow, any of which makes it very difficult for a transcriber to hear.  The number of people talking can also determine the transcription time because people seem to overlap their discussions and talk at the same time. Sometimes many participants fail to clearly identify exactly who is speaking.

The speed of the person talking.  Some people speak slower than others and others speak faster.  A fast speaker equals more words, and more words require more time to transcribe, thusly driving up the cost.

The quality of the speaker is another important factor because many people speak using “ums” and “ahs”. Sometimes they loose their train of thought or their focus suddenly  switches That’s why it’s very important to have your thoughts carefully worked out.  The role of the transcriber becomes much more difficult because he/she has to decipher where to insert punctuation so the meaning of the topic isn’t lost.  A speaker with an accent is also difficult to transcribe and will affect the time required.

There are many conferences, meetings, etc. that have technical or specialized terminology.  If that’s the case we always ask if there is a terminology sheet  or a glossary that can be provided to assist us in giving our clients a better transcript.  If not, it takes an exorbitant amount of time to relisten to words and/or sentences in order to distinguish what was said.
One factor we stress to our clients is the positioning of microphones.  If the tape is professionally recorded that’s usually not a problem because of the level of expertise of the recording company.  However, if it’s being recorded with a tape recorder most people are too far from the microphone.  When a transcriber is typing she can hear everything being recorded from background noises, coughing, dishes clanging, planes, cars, etc.  When we listen to someone talking to us we can filter all that noise, but a tape can’t.  It picks up every bit of noise and it becomes very difficult to hear the main context of the recording.  Therefore, we ask our clients to be in a room that is completely free, if possible, of anyextreneous noises.

We strive for quality transcripts.  A poor recording will have a high number of “inaudibles” and will definitely take longer to transcribe.

4. How do you handle poor quality tapes?

Once we have assessed your tape and determine that there are some sound qualities that would make your tape hard to transcribe we will call and let you know that we can go ahead and attempt to transcribe the tape.  However, because of the quality it may take longer and could therefore cost more money.  We would attempt to have the sound quality enhanced (at the client’s expense).  If we are told that a tape is of good quality, and it turns out to be otherwise, we will call you and inform you and give you our professional opinion as to whether or not the tape is viable for transcription.  We will ask your permission before we proceed with any transcription.

5. What if another service that I called said they could do the same job for less money?

Transcribe-It, Inc. stands by its work.  We are professional transcribers with years of transcription experience.  We know what we’re doing and we do it well.  We take pride in providing excellent service.  If someone says they can do a job at a cheaper price, more than likely they are not professional transcribers and do not operate under Industry Production Standards.  We have had many companies who opted for the cheaper rate only to pay the service and then call us to do it all over again.  They, in fact, have paid twice…if they had only called us first and hadn’t worried about cost, their jobs would have been completed on time at a cost suited to their needs.

6. Why can’t you give me an exact price?

We cannot give an exact price until we have had an opportunity to preview your tape.  Most of our clients appreciate the fact that we take the time to analyze the tape and determine the price.

7. What if I want a per-page price?

Again, we strive to give our clients the best rate available.  Sometimes it’s not advisable to do a per page price because you don’t know how long the length of the tape is.  Again, we have a standard chart that tells us exactly how much to charge per tape, per page, per minute, etc.

8. Can you transcribe video tapes?

Yes, we can.  We will convert your video tape into an audio format so that it can be transcribed in a normal way.  At present, we receive few request for transcribing video tapes; therefore it wouldn’t be cost effective for us to purchase a video transcription machine.  The cost to the client is minimal to have it converted.  Or, what some clients have done is to have it converted themselves and then sent to us on audio.

9. Do you pick up and deliver?

We can arrange for pick up and delivery.  The cost will be added to your invoice.  Tapes may be sent to us via messenger, FedEx, or any other secure delivery service.

10. Do you return our tapes?

Yes, if you make a pre-paid arrangement with us or we use your FedEx number.

If there are any other questions we can answer, please contact us at