Tutorial: Creating a Video Transcript (Page 1 of 9)


  1. Introduction
  2. Guidelines
    1. Speaker identification
    2. Sound effects
    3. Music description
    4. Miscellaneous
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Next steps
  5. Feedback


Transcription is the first step toward the creation of a captioned video. The transcript itself is a text equivalent of an audio recording. In addition to its use in the captioning process, a transcript may be useful in its own right as a learning tool for students, who can read the text and search for key words. In fact, transcripts are a great addition to any instructional video or podcast because they give students another way to comprehend and interact with the material.

Although numerous automatic transcription tools are available to convert speech to text, none provide satisfactory results at this time. The transcripts produced by automatic transcription require extensive edits and corrections. We therefore recommend that transcripts be typed manually in Microsoft Word.

Tools used in this tutorial

  • Microsoft Word


The following guidelines are adapted from the Described and Captioned Media Program’s (DCMP) Captioning Key. The DCMP is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf. We have found these guidelines to be comprehensive. For additional information, follow the link to the Captioning Key website.

A quality transcript should include speaker identification as well as description of sound effects, music, and other notations that promote comprehension when the audio cannot be heard.

Speaker identification

Place speaker’s name in parentheses, on its own line:

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

Sound effects

Description of sound effects should be placed in square brackets and should identify the sound source:

...ask not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country.
[audience applause]

Sound effects should appear after the sound description, on their own line, in lower case:

[machine gun]

If possible, use words that imitate the sound being described:

Oink (pig)
Roar (lion)
Woof (dog bark)

Music Description

If a piece of music is significant to the story, introduce the artist’s name and song title in brackets:

[Barry Manilow singing “I Write The Songs”]

If the music has lyrics which are pertinent to the story, caption them. Lyrics should be denoted with a music symbol (♪) at the beginning and end of the caption (type Alt+13 on the numeric keypad to insert the music symbol):

♪ I write the songs that make the whole world sing ♪

Use two music symbols after the last line of the song to indicate the end of the music:

♪ I am music, and I write the songs ♪♪


Use an ellipsis (…) to indicate a pause:

I wonder...where did Tim go?

Use italics for foreign words and phrases:

The Latin inscription consisted of
only three words: E Pluribus Unum.

Use ALL CAPS, not italics, for emphasis:

Billy...set that down RIGHT NOW!

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these steps to create a transcript:

  1. Open a new Microsoft Word document.
  2. Open the video file.
  3. Play the video in small increments (20–30 seconds) while transcribing the audio and dialogue in Microsoft Word.
  4. Identify speakers when they appear in the video.
    • If the scene contains multiple speakers, identify the person speaking in each caption.
    • If the camera focuses on one speaker at a time, speaker identification is not needed after the initial identification.

Next Steps

Your new transcript file can be used in several ways:

  • The text can be copied from Word and pasted into Camtasia Studio, where it will be synchronized with the video to create captions (see Adding Captions in Camtasia Studio).
  • The Word document can be saved as a text file (.txt) and uploaded to YouTube for synchronization with the video.
  • The document can be posted in Word or PDF format on the course website, where the text will become a searchable learning resource.

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Creating a Video Transcript
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