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DIY / How-To Podcast Transcription November 3, 2006

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Accessibility, Podcast Transcription, Podcasting.

How do you transcript podcasts if you don’t want to pay someone else to? Well, you have three options:

  1. Listen to your podcast and transcribe it yourself.
  2. Purchase some software to help you do it.
  3. There is no number three. :)

When thinking about option 1 and typing it all out yourself… consider this:

  • the average person talks at 140 words per minute
  • there are 4.5 letter per word on average in the English language
  • 140 * 4.5 = 630 characters or key strokes
  • add spaces between words (140) and punctuation (30) and you get
  • 800 characters spoken per minute

Further think about this:

  • the average person can type 60 words per minute
  • 60 * 4.5 = 270 chars or key strokes
  • spaces and punctuation added =
  • 340 characters typed per minute

I like running numbers on things:

  • 340 characters typed into 800 characters spoken =
  • approximately 2 1/2 minutes of typing for every minute spoken

I’ll spare you the rest of what I was thinking, but you obviously can’t type as fast as you talk. So, you’ll have to stop and start the podcast and type what you hear as you go. If your podcast is 5 minutes long, that’s approximately 15 minutes of typing time. A 20 minute podcast would take the average person 1 hour of strait typing to transcribe. An hour podcast would take 3 hours of typing to transcribe.

Want to hear about option 2?

Sorry this is going to be so simple, but… go buy yourself a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. There are several versions of it, but you’ll need the Preferred version for $200. It, unlike the Standard version, gives you an option of dictation with ‘after the fact’ text from audio conversion. It will ‘listen’ to a wav file and type it out for you in a text document that can be saved in word or as a pdf. I’m searching for other options and mac friendly pieces of software that are as feature rich as Dragon, but from the one’s that I’ve seen, I haven’t found one as good yet that I’d recommend.

It’s your choice to post your transcript in your show notes, on a website, etc. I suggest creating a separate RSS feed of the transcripts so those that want to consume your podcast in that format can do so.

As recommended in a past post, CastingWords does a great job of transcribing, and is $0.42 / minute. At that rate, it would take you 476 minutes to use up the $200 that you would pay for Dragon. So, if you like to do it yourself, great, but the overhead may just not be worth it. $200 at CastingWords = Ninety-five 5 minute podcasts = Twenty-three 20 minute podcasts = Seven 60 minute podcasts… you decide?

I leave you with this: the world record for spoken words per minute is 603! 5 minutes of that and you’d be typing for an hour and 1/2… yikes!



1. LL - November 5, 2006

Dragon works a great for transcribing audio files if you can train it to recognize the speaker’s voice. But I don’t think it can transcribe audio files that have more than one speaker talking, because you can only load one speaker profile into it at a time (AFAIK).
The most tedious podcasts to transcribe by hand (I have found) are the ones that feature two or more people having a normal conversation, because of all the interrupting, backtracking, umms, errs, and false starts. Transcribing monologues or people reading from scripts is MUCH easier. Paying someone else to do it in this case would be well worth the money just to avoid the frustration. Thanks for the tip!

2. Jeff - November 6, 2006

Good point LL. I should have mentioned that this would be good for those of you who are self (or single speaker) podcasters. The ‘speaker profile’ is specific for each speaker. If you have multiple speakers, the software will not do as well with the speaker that it has not been ‘trained’ on.

3. Library clips :: The Podcast listener :: March :: 2007 - March 22, 2007

[…] So this searches in the audio content, amazing…I wonder if you can get a free transcript, I don’t think so…not for free, but best yet. […]

4. Swapna - May 9, 2007

Its well and good for podcasters to go for transcription softwares…However, you will be exchanging speed and costs for accuracy. Most speech recognition softwares don’t give you more than 95% accuracy..This is even lesser for non-English accent speech…For accuracy sensitive podcasts like medical and legal ones, loss of accuracy will make your give your podcast a bad name…Also, accuracy in transcription software demands recording in a noise free environment…The best option, even today, is good old manual transcription..If you outsource your transcription, then the prices will no longer be a cause to fret over…Some podcast transcription services have been in this field since many years and will be extremely efficient in getting your transcription done accurately , quickly and cheaply.

5. Tracey Tugman - August 11, 2007

I would like to practice medical transcription typing or any other transcription typing I live in South Africa I would like to into this type of business.

Yours Sincerely

Tracey Tugman

6. krista b - August 8, 2008

There are outsourcing companies such as http://www.yourremoteassistant.com who provide manual transcription services at a cheap rate. Transcription includes proof-reading and sometimes even document formatting if you ask for it. You can either get a per-project rate, or you can subscribe and get a personal transcriptionist who will do all your podcast transcriptions, plus proof-read them.

7. biber hapı - June 5, 2010

very good post thank admin

8. chat - June 5, 2010

sorry :(

9. islami dini - June 11, 2010

what is sorry chat ?

10. april - April 18, 2011

this is now man

11. Arran - June 17, 2011

You can listen to the podcast in, say, VLC player and reduce the speed at which it’s played. This at least frees you from having to backtrack all the time when the speaking speed exceeds your typing speed.

12. Bertex - July 27, 2012

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15. OwlTranscription (@OTranscription) - July 14, 2015

If you will want to convert that audio to text you can use our service which is cheap as 0.64$ per minute. Our website: http://owltranscription.com

16. compvert - September 15, 2015

It is 2015 now… with the right tools, hours of audio can be converted into text. Contact me at http://www.compvert.com... $0.20 per minute… no problem.

17. voyance - April 23, 2016


DIY / How-To Podcast Transcription | Jeffrey Daniel Frey\’s Blog

18. Tony Daniel - October 21, 2016

Today there are more software to convert voice to text. However, if one needs professional transcription, it is recommended to use professional transcription companies. This will save time and you get more audience or traffic to your website.

19. Theodora Quirk - February 4, 2017

Esta obra básica y sencilla, desarrolla las leyes que rigen en los líquidos y gases en función de la transferencia de calor, y que encuentran aplicación en las instalaciones de aire acondicionado. La obra progresa desde una explicación de principios básicos, pasando por una exposición de detalles de construcción y tipos de sistemas de aire acondicionado, hasta la instalación, localización de averías y reparación de estos sistemas.

20. Haydn Hadley - June 11, 2018

Great article. The SEO benefits of transcribing a podcast are massive today.
It will be until crawlers grow ears I guess. haha


21. Make time - August 17, 2019

Make time

DIY / How-To Podcast Transcription | Jeffrey Daniel Frey\’s Blog

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