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How to Transcribe Audio to Text (Automatically & For Free)

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How to Transcribe Audio to Text (Automatically & For Free)

Wondering how to transcribe audio to text as quickly, easily, and affordably as possible? We’ll show you how!

Audio content is clearly on the rise, and this means transcription is important in repurposing materials and helping you grow your audience. Luckily, it doesn’t have to take ours. With the right automated transcription tools, you can convert any audio to text in minutes. 

In this blog, we’ll cover different transcription methods and help you decide which is best for you.

What is audio transcribing?

Transcribing an audio file involves converting the file’s audio or sound output into text content. Often, this is done by a skilled transcriber, but it can also be completed by some computer systems and transcription software applications.

Audio transcriptions are usually displayed in text documents. When audio files are transcribed manually, a transcriber listens to the audio and writes or types out the audio they hear, converting it to text. On the other hand, when using computer software, you upload the audio file for the software to go through and automatically convert to text using speech recognition technology. The idea is that this text can be read without access to the original audio or video file.

Benefits of transcribing audio

There are many benefits of audio transcription, with transcribed materials offering new options for reach, accessibility, and more. Transcribing audio files is specifically good for:

Repurposing your content

Turning your audio content into text allows audiences to read information that was previously only accessible through audio. Transcribing audio into text files makes it easier to repurpose audio content into blogs, social media posts, articles, and other forms of written media, making your content accessible in various formats. This will help you create content for a larger audience and expand reach opportunities through more distribution channels.

Subtitles for better discoverability

Besides reaching more people through repurposed content, audio transcriptions with subtitles can also increase your reach. It’s always good to add subtitles or captions to YouTube videos or other audio content, as this is a great way to make your content more searchable online. 

What are the main ways to convert audio to text?

There are several ways to convert audio to text. If you need to create an audio transcript, it’s important to consider your specific needs, including the purpose of your files, the audience you're trying to reach, and any time or budget constraints.

Manually transcribing your audio files

One option is to manually transcribe your audio file. Manual transcription means that you are responsible for transcribing your own audio to a text transcript. You'll need to listen closely to your audio files and be careful to follow standard transcription conventions that make your text readable and easy to comprehend.

Manually transcribing can be a good choice if you have only a small amount of relatively simple audio content. When working on longer, more complex projects, manual transcription can be challenging and time-consuming.

Automatic transcription software

Automatic transcription software is another one of your transcription options. These software applications are designed to use advanced voice recognition technology to automatically generate text transcripts of videos or audio files. This method is especially common for dictation purposes.

While automatic transcription is often easy and affordable, it can be prone to inaccuracies, especially if your audio content is complex or includes heavy accents. If you choose to automatically transcribe your content, it's a good idea to revisit your final transcript file and check for any errors. 

Human transcription services

Finally, human transcription services are a great choice for producing clear, accurate audio-to-text transcript files. Completed by a professional transcriber using transcription software, this method is suitable for a wide range of audio files.

For the most accurate results when using human transcription services, it’s best to provide your transcriber with as much relevant information as possible. You can provide correct spellings of names or terms that may appear in your audio recording.

How to transcribe audio to text (step-by-step guide)

Still not sure how to transcribe audio to text? Here are the basic steps you can take to convert an audio recording to a text transcript.

How to transcribe audio and create audio transcriptions

There’s more than one way to approach the audio transcription process, so before you begin transcribing, it’s important to consider exactly what kind of transcript you're looking for.

Do you need to add subtitles or captions to a video file, or do you just need a text transcription of an audio recording? Is your audio content short and simple, or is it longer and more complex with the presence of accents or advanced terminology?

Knowing this information can help you decide what type of transcription tool or process to use. When working with short, simple audio, you may be able to produce your own transcription or use the transcription feature of a software application. More complex files may require the support of a skilled human transcriber to ensure a high degree of accuracy.

How to use Riverside transcription

Riverside makes it easy to create audio transcriptions. Here’s how you can transcribe your audio redcordings using our AI-transcript generator.

Step 1: Once you have finished a recording, go to your studio recordings page and select what take you’d like to transcribe.

Generate Transcription button on Riverside

Step 2: Select the three-dot menu and choose ‘generate transcription.’ 

Step 3: Allow a few minutes for the system to complete the transcription process. 

Step 4: Finally, choose to download your transcription as a TXT or SRT file. TXT files contain text-only transcriptions, while SRT files can be used to add subtitles to video content.

Downloading transcriptions on Riverside
Simple as that! Sign up on Riverside for easy, automatic transcriptions.

How to transcribe audio faster using self transcription

If you do decide to transcribe your own audio file, there are a few things you can do to speed up the transcription process.

First, try to use a file with clear sound input. As much as possible, you’ll want to avoid poor, crackling audio quality and excessive noise or crosstalk, as these things could make your file more difficult to transcribe accurately. We recommend you record your audio in high-resolution, which you can easily do with Riverside’s high-definition audio recording software.

Next, search for a good transcribing tool. Self-transcription software can allow you to upload audio files and automatically pause, playback, and repeat content as needed. If you don't have access to this, use Google docs or a Word document. Create a fresh file for each new transcript, and pay close attention to details like spelling, accuracy, and speaker identification.

Finally, allow enough time to transcribe audio accurately. Producing high-quality text transcripts takes time, so don't rush the process. Listen slowly and carefully to your content to avoid making mistakes.

How do you transcribe audio to text for free?

Wondering how to transcribe audio to text for free? While some software applications incur a cost, others are completely free to use and are readily available online.

Sites like Otranscribe and Free Transcriptions allow you to access free transcribing services for audio and video. Alternatively, you can try self-transcription! Remember to check all transcripts carefully to make sure they are as accurate as possible.

How to use Google’s free transcription tools

Google offers a free transcription service of its own, helping you transcribe speech and other audio content. Google’s free transcription and voice typing tools are ideal for transcribing podcasts and meetings.

Follow these steps to access free Google transcription services.

Step 1: Open Google docs and select ‘tools,’ then ‘voice typing.’

The voice typing button on Google Docs under the Tools menu.

Step 2: Select your language, then click the microphone icon.

Google Docs voice typing microphone to transcribe audio to text.

Step 3: Play the audio you want to transcribe and Google should automatically start transcribing. 

Alternatively, if you want to transcribe live audio, you can use the Google Live Transcribe feature to turn audio to text in real-time.

Types of transcription files

Most transcript files are quite similar, converting speech to written content and using tags for non-voice content.

Even when a transcript is originally produced using a software application, your final transcription should be available to download as a Word document, TXT file, or Google doc. Other available common formats include PDF documents and HTML formatting.

Transcriptions can also be contained in SRT files. These files are ideal to use with videos, as they are time-stamped, making it easy to convert text to captions or subtitles. 

How long does it take to transcribe audio into a text file?

The average time transcribing takes is likely to vary depending on the audio quality and complexity of your files, as well as your transcription method.

Automatic transcription software can usually work quickly. You may have a complete transcript in just a few minutes! If you decide to use a human transcription service, the process is likely to take longer. According to some transcription providers, one hour of audio content can take between two and ten hours to transcribe. Self-transcription in particular can be time-consuming, as you'll need to work slowly to maintain accuracy throughout your transcript.

How do you edit the transcription?

Once you’ve transcribed audio to text, you’ll need to edit your transcript to fix any errors or inaccuracies. 

Step 1: For editing purposes, it's a good idea to download your transcript and use Google docs, a Word document, or another easy-to-navigate file format.

Step 2: As you begin the editing process, have your original video or audio file on hand, and be ready to refer back to it. 

Step 3: Listen closely to your audio content, using pause and playback features to slow down and double-check words, phrases, or sounds you're unsure of.

Step 4: While listening to your audio file, make changes as needed to improve the accuracy of your transcript. 

Step 5: Remember to save your work often to avoid losing any changes.

Transcription best practices

One of the most important things to keep in mind when converting an audio file to a text transcript is that transcribed material should be as accurate as possible.

Best practices to keep in mind when transcribing include working slowly, prioritizing clarity, and maintaining accuracy. As you transcribe audio files, be aware of the purpose of your transcript, and try to make sure that final documents are easy to read and understand.

Audio transcription FAQs

To help you achieve high-quality transcripts, here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions.

How do I transcribe audio recording to text?

There are several ways to transcribe an audio recording to a text document. You might decide to pursue self-transcription, rely on an automatic transcription service, or work with a professional human transcriber. Consider which method is the right choice for you. Once you’re sure you’ve made the right choice, upload your file and set to work! 

Is there an app that can transcribe audio to text?

There are many apps and software applications that can help transcribe audio. For example, you can use Riverside for audio and video transcribing straight after recording. You can also try Google’s voice typing feature or choose another online or app-based system with a high accuracy rating.

Is there an easy way to transcribe audio?

Transcribing audio can be challenging if you don’t have the right tools or experience. The easiest way to transcribe audio is by using an automatic transcription service or by employing a skilled human transcriber. 

What makes automatic speech-to-text transcription possible?

Automatic speech-to-text transcription is possible thanks to advanced voice recognition software. This software analyzes sound and finds the most likely word to match for a transcription. Although automatic speech-to-text transcription is not 100% accurate, you can combine it with a human transcription service to produce highly accurate transcripts, captions, and subtitles.

How to transcribe voice memos

Voice memos and phone calls can be transcribed just like any other audio file. Upload your file to a transcription tool, application, or system. You can rely on automatic transcription, self-transcription, or a professional transcription service.

How to convert audio file into text

Transcription, whether automatic or manual, is the only way to convert an audio file to text. You can do this by selecting a transcription method, uploading your audio recording, and following the steps required to produce a transcript file.

How to create a transcript

Transcripts can be produced in many file formats. You might display a transcript in a Word document, a Google doc, or a text file. In some cases, a transcript file can also be converted for use as subtitles or captions for video content.

How to make a transcript of a recording

You can use a range of services to turn a recording into a transcript. Upload your recording file to your computer, and begin to transcribe your content yourself, or send your recording to a skilled human transcriber who can help you. If you’d like to use an automatic transcription tool, you can use Riverside’s AI transcription software, which transcribes audio straight after recording.

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