How can I reduce transcription time? 7 tips for fast transcription

Typing up Inteviews is and always will be an annoying and tedious job. There is some potential to save yourself time, here are 7 of our most effective tips:

Recording quality

The quality of the recording has a significant impact on the time you have to allow for editing. Here, a well-recorded live interview in a quiet atmosphere is preferable to any Zoom recording, because the recording is more clearly understandable and can thus be typed up more easily. It is not only time-consuming, but also annoying to constantly have to listen to passages that are difficult to understand several times. We have compiled tips for good recording (also of individual interviews) here: link Record group interviews well.

Partial transcript

If you want to save some time, a partial transcription can be useful. This is common, for example, in the documentary method. In this case, one first writes only a thematic summary with time information – e.g. “01:10:12 to 01:13:34 discussion about topic XY” – and then decides later which passages are to be used for the evaluation. Only these are then typed up in detail, everything else remains untranscribed or roughly sketched. The use of time stamps is helpful here, because with these one can very quickly listen to the relevant passages in the original recording even later.

Use transcription software and foot control

In order to transcribe as quickly as possible, it has proven useful to work not with the mouse, media player and Word, but with transcription programs and keyboard shortcuts. These programs offer options such as slowing down during playback so that it is much easier to follow along with typing. There are also useful functions like an automatic short rewind when paused (so you can hear the missed word again when continuing) and many other features. The foot control makes it even more convenient.


Breaks are necessary. It sounds banal, but you cannot transcribe with concentration and precision for 8 hours at a stretch. The recommended break frequency for computer workstations of at least 5 to 10 minutes break per hour of screen work has proven to be effective. More than 6 hours of transcription per day is not realistically possible without increasing the error rate beyond the usual level.

Speech recognition

Speech recognition cannot replace transcription. Errors are always produced that have to be checked and corrected. However, for German-language interviews with good recording quality, you can definitely save 30% of working time with our speech recognition f4x. It delivers a good pre-transcript, which you then correct manually. In any case, you should try out a speech recognizer before buying it to find out whether it delivers usable results for your own recordings at all. Click here for the test version of f4x with a 30-minute trial quota: LINK

Transcription service

It is quite luxurious when you can use external writing services. There is a very wide range of different qualities here. Make sure that experience with (scientific) interview transcriptions is available and that data protection (DSGVO) is observed. [link data protection]. Our transcription service can be found here. link

Refraiming „Love Transcription“

Transcription is and remains tedious and time-consuming. Through “refraiming”, however, much positive can be gained from this work. This is the name given to the psychological technique of reinterpretation, with which unpleasant experiences are put into a new light and thus also positive aspects become visible. This phenomenon is described by Cindy Bird in her article: „How I Stopped Dreading and Learned to Love Transcription“. Because through transcription, i.e. the time-intensive examination of an original recording, which one listens to slowly and with concentration, one is in very close contact with the recorded persons. This makes it easier to perceive particularities and nuances that one would not notice either during the actual interview or when reading the transcript. So if you also use the transcription to already gather ideas and think intensively about the topic, you can gain a lot of inspiration and perspective for the evaluation from this.

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