How to Format Interview Transcripts Like a Pro

2023-03-095 mins

Proper formatting of interview transcripts is essential for the success of any report or analysis. Yet, many overlook this fundamental step, resulting in work that fails to capture the essence of the interviewee's thoughts and ideas.

The correct format can transform a disorganized jumble of spoken words into a structured, meaningful, and actionable document. It also demonstrates the writer's professionalism, competence, and expertise.

But what is the optimal interview transcription format?

This guide will answer this question by examining the three major types of transcription formats. We will also delve into the nuances of how to write a transcribed interview, format conversations, and highlight sections in the transcription.

Novice and experienced transcriptionists will find this guide's insights and practical tips helpful in improving their transcriptions and mastering the art of interview transcription.

What Is the Format for Interview Transcription?


The practice of interview transcription has evolved with the advent of technology, and now there are three main formats for interview transcription:

Verbatim Transcription Format 

The verbatim format is the most comprehensive and detailed transcription format. It involves transcribing everything said during the interview, including all verbal pauses, filler words, stutters, and false starts.

The purpose is to capture what is said and how it is said to provide a complete and accurate interview record. This format is helpful for legal, medical, or academic research purposes.

What's in a verbatim transcript:

  • Everything the speakers said during the interview, including verbal pauses, filler words, stutters, and false starts.

  • Non-verbal communication, such as laughter, sighs, and pauses.

What's not in a verbatim transcript:

  • Background noise or irrelevant chatter.

Example: "Um, so, like, I was thinking about applying to that job at the library, but then I remembered I don't have any experience. Laughter It's ridiculous, right?"

Semi-verbatim Transcription Format 

Semi-verbatim is a more condensed version of the verbatim format. It involves omitting verbal pauses, filler words, and false starts to make the transcription easier to read and understand.

This format provides a more polished and coherent record of the interview while still maintaining a high level of accuracy. It is mainly helpful for journalistic or podcasting purposes.

What's in a semi-verbatim transcript:

  • Everything the speakers said during the interview, without some verbal pauses, filler words, and false starts.

What's not in a semi-verbatim transcript:

  • Background noise or irrelevant chatter.

Example: "I was thinking about applying to that job at the library, but I don't have any experience. It's ridiculous, right?"

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription Format 

The intelligent verbatim format omits most verbal pauses, filler words, false starts, and irrelevant or repetitive content. The purpose is to capture the main content of the interview while retaining key insights and ideas. This format is helpful for market research or business purposes.

What's in a verbatim transcript:

  • The main content of the interview, with most verbal pauses, filler words, and false starts removed.

  • Only relevant information contributes to the overall understanding of the interview.

What's not in a verbatim transcript:

  • Background noise or irrelevant chatter.

  • Repetitive or irrelevant content.

Example: "I don't have any experience for that library job; I won't apply."

When deciding which interview transcription format to use, consider the purpose of the transcript and the audience who will be reading it. Verbatim transcription is most appropriate when every detail is essential, while semi-verbatim and intelligent verbatim are better suited for situations where a more concise and streamlined transcript is needed.

How to Transcribe an Interview


Transcribing an interview is a process that requires patience, focus, and attention to detail. A poorly transcribed interview can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and lost opportunities. Here are the steps to follow to avoid this:

  1. Listen to the full recording: Before transcribing, listen to the entire interview recording. This will help you understand the interview's context, tone, and content. It will familiarize you with the speakers' voices, accents, and any technical issues that may need addressing.

  2. Determine how much time you'll need: Based on the length and complexity of the interview, estimate how much time you will need to transcribe it accurately. This will help you to plan your time effectively and avoid rushing through the process.

  3. Select the proper tools: Using the right tools can make the transcription process faster and more efficient. Choose a reliable transcription software like Notta to transcribe your interviews. Notta is a transcription software that streamlines the transcription process by allowing you to edit, organize and share your transcript.

  4. Write a draft first: Rather than transcribing the interview word-for-word, it is better to write a draft first. This allows you to identify difficult-to-hear sections and understand the speakers' speech patterns. You can then organize your thoughts and create a clear structure for the transcript.

  5. Use shortcuts: To save time and increase productivity, use shortcuts like keyboard shortcuts, auto-correct, and transcription templates.

  6. Proofread your draft: After completing it, read through it carefully to check for errors, typos, and other mistakes. It is vital to ensure that the transcript is accurate and error-free.

  7. Format the transcript: Finally, format the transcript in the required style and format. This includes adding headings, timestamps, and speaker labels.

Each of these steps is important to produce a high-quality transcript that accurately reflects the content of the interview. 

How to Identify Speakers in Interview Transcription With Notta 

Identifying speakers in an interview transcript can be challenging, particularly if the recording includes multiple participants. However, Notta, an AI-powered transcription tool, streamlines this process and makes it much more efficient.

To use Notta, begin by uploading the video or audio file of the interview to the Notta Dashboard.


Next, find the recording in the dashboard and listen to it, paying close attention to who is speaking.


 Notta will automatically transcribe the interview and label each speaker with a different color.


If Notta incorrectly identifies a speaker, you can manually edit the transcription and assign the correct speaker label. This is important to ensure accuracy in the transcript.

Tips for Manually Labeling Speakers

When manually labeling speakers, having a system in place is helpful. Here are a few tips you can follow to make the task easier:

  1. Listen to the recording carefully: Before you start anything, listen to the recording more than once. Take notes of the speakers' names and the timecodes where they start and stop speaking.

  2. Label the speakers consistently: Make sure you label the speakers consistently throughout the transcript. For example, if you mark one speaker as "John," label them as "John" throughout the transcript.

  3. Indicate when there are multiple speakers: If there are multiple speakers in a section of the transcript, indicate this by using "Speaker 1" and "Speaker 2" or "Participant 1" and "Participant 2."

Exporting the Transcript

Once you have labeled the speakers in your transcript, you can export it in a format that suits your needs. Notta allows you to export transcripts in various forms, including SRT, PDF, Word, Text, and Excel.


How to Format Conversation for Interview Transcription

Formatting your interview transcription is essential in making it easily understandable and digestible. Here are some tips to consider when formatting your interview transcription.

Include a Clear Heading

Begin your interview transcription with a clear and concise heading. The heading should include the interviewer's name, the interviewee's, and the interview's date. This information is essential, especially when dealing with multiple transcripts, as it helps to differentiate and identify each interview.

Identify Speakers

Label every speaker with their name or code to make the transcription more reader-friendly. This step will help readers quickly identify who is speaking at any given time. You can also label speakers using different colors or labels such as "Interviewer" and "Interviewee."

Use Paragraphs

Paragraphs help to break down your transcription and make it easier to read. Each section should represent a different topic or shift in the conversation. When a speaker changes, begin a new paragraph. Proper use of paragraphs makes it easy to track the conversation flow and makes it simple to identify key themes and topics discussed during the interview.

Use Proper Punctuation

Punctuation is an essential part of formatting your interview transcription. Use commas, full stops, question marks, and exclamation marks when necessary. Proper punctuation makes the transcription more readable, and it's easier to understand the context of the conversation.

Indicate Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication can be essential in interviews as it can carry significant meaning. Indicate these cues in your transcription by describing the behavior in brackets. For example, [laughter], [long pause], or [sigh]. This helps the reader understand the tone and emotions of the interview better.

Include Timestamps

Including timestamps can help you refer back to specific parts of the interview quickly. You can use minutes and seconds to indicate where a particular section starts. Timestamps are also essential when analyzing the interview or referencing the discussion in future research.

How to Highlight Your Interview Transcription With Notta

Transcribing an interview is a time-consuming task requiring much effort and attention to detail. However, it's not enough to transcribe; highlight essential parts of the conversation to make it easier to analyze and reference. This is where Notta comes in.

With its powerful highlighting features, Notta makes it easy to identify and categorize noteworthy moments in your transcription, allowing you to quickly and easily navigate to the information that matters most. Here is how to use it:

1. To begin using Notta's highlighting features, log in to your account and select the transcript you wish to edit.


2. From there, you can navigate to the specific transcription section you wish to highlight.
3. Click on "Add notes" and select one of the three options: "Key points," "Projects," or "To-dos."


Key points are the most critical moments in your transcription, providing valuable insights into the conversation or interview. Projects are tasks or initiatives that arise during the conversation, while To-dos are specific action items you need to complete due to the interview. Using these categories to highlight particular moments in your transcription, you can quickly and easily refer to the essential information.

When you highlight a transcription section, it will appear under "Remarks" on your Notta dashboard. This makes it easy to refer back to your highlighted information anytime.

While Notta can help highlight specific keywords or topics, there may be times when you want to highlight certain parts of the interview transcript manually. Here are some tips for doing so effectively:

Identify Key Themes or Topics

Before you start highlighting, take some time to review the transcript and identify the key themes or topics that emerge from the conversation. This will help you focus on the most critical parts of the interview.

Use Color Coding

Color coding is an effective way to separate critical parts of the interview visually. For example, you could use one color to highlight key points, another for to-do items, and a third for follow-up questions. This technique can help you quickly scan the transcript and find the necessary information.

Use Bold or Underline

Bold or underline important words or phrases to draw attention to them. This technique can be beneficial when emphasizing a specific point or idea.

Use Asterisks or Other Symbols

Asterisks or other symbols can draw attention to important parts of the interview. For example, you could use an asterisk to highlight a particularly interesting or relevant response.

Use Indentation or Bullet Points

Indenting or using bullet points can help you visually organize the interview transcript and highlight important information. This technique can be handy when breaking down a complex idea into smaller, more manageable parts.

Use Comments or Annotations

Comments or annotations can provide additional context or information to an interview transcript. This technique can be advantageous when providing background information on a specific topic or highlighting a significant response.

Example of highlighted transcript format

Heading: Interview between Jane Doe and John Smith, March 1, 2023

John Smith:

  • Key point: Our new product line will enter the market in Q3 of this year.

  • To-do: Follow up with the marketing team to ensure they have the materials to promote the new product line.

  • Project: Begin work on the following product line in Q4 of this year.

Jane Doe:

  • Key point: Our customer satisfaction rating has increased by 15% after implementing the new customer service training program.

  • To-do: Schedule a meeting with the customer service team to discuss further improvements.

  • Follow-up question: How has the increased customer satisfaction rating impacted sales?

Interview Transcription Examples


Interview transcripts are essential for researchers, journalists, legal professionals, and businesses to record and analyze their interviews accurately. Transcription templates help ensure consistency and efficiency in the transcription process. Here are three transcript templates to help you get started with your interviews.

Verbatim Template

A verbatim transcription is a word-for-word transcription of the interview, capturing every word, utterance, and sound made by the speaker. It is an essential tool for researchers, journalists, and legal professionals who must have a complete and accurate record of an interview, meeting, or court proceeding.

Creating a verbatim template is a crucial step in the transcription process, as it provides a standardized format for transcribing audio or video recordings.

The template ensures that every transcriptionist follows the same format, guaranteeing consistency and accuracy across all transcriptions. Here are the steps to create a verbatim template:

Step 1: Start with the speaker identification 

The first element of a verbatim transcription is identifying each speaker by name or a label—for example, an interviewer or interviewee. 


INTERVIEWER: Good morning. How are you?

INTERVIEWEE: I'm fine, thank you. How are you?

Step 2: Include fillers and pauses 

Fillers such as "um," "ah," and "uh" are typical in spoken language, and Verbatim transcription should include them. It should also have pauses, stutters, and repetitions to accurately reflect the speaker's speech patterns.


INTERVIEWER: So, tell us a little bit about yourself.

INTERVIEWEE: Um, sure. I was born and raised in New York, uh, and I've been a marketer for the past ten years.

Step 3: Include nonverbal communication 

Verbatim transcription should include nonverbal communication, such as laughter, sighs, and sounds accompanying speech, such as coughs, sneezes, and throat clearing.


INTERVIEWER: What do you think are the most critical skills for a marketer to have?

INTERVIEWEE: (Laughs) Well, I think, um, being creative, uh, and having good communication skills is necessary.

Step 4: Transcribe as accurately as possible 

A verbatim transcription should reflect the speaker's language, tone, and style as closely as possible. Try to transcribe every word spoken, even if it seems unnecessary or repetitive. Use correct spelling and punctuation, but also capture any unconventional use of language or slang.


INTERVIEWER: What's your favorite social media platform?

INTERVIEWEE: Well, I don't have a favorite, but I use Instagram a lot. Like, I'm constantly scrolling through my feed when I'm bored.

To create a verbatim transcript, use the following template:

Timestamp: [00:00:00] 

Speaker: [Name or initials of speaker]

[Transcription of spoken words goes here]

Timestamp: [00:01:23] 

Speaker: [Name or initials of speaker]

[Transcription of spoken words goes here]

This template is a straightforward and effective way to transcribe interviews or spoken dialogue. By including timestamps, you can easily refer back to specific moments in the conversation, making it easier to locate relevant information.

Verbatim Template Example:

Here's an example of a completed verbatim transcript using the template:

00:00 Interviewee: Hi, my name is John.

00:04 Interviewer: Great, thank you for being here today. Please tell me about your background and experience in the field.

00:10 Interviewee: Um, yeah, sure. I have a computer science degree and have been working in the tech industry for about ten years. I've worked for a few different companies, but my most recent role was as a software engineer at Google.

00:25 Interviewer: Wow, that's impressive. Please share more about your work at Google and what projects you were involved in.

00:31 Interviewee: Yeah, so I worked on developing Google's search algorithm and also helped implement some new features on Google Maps. It was an inspiring time to be at the company, and I learned a lot there.

00:47 Interviewer: That sounds interesting. Can you give an example of a particularly challenging project you worked on and how you overcame any obstacles?

00:54 Interviewee: Um, let me think...Oh, I remember. We were working on a new search feature allowing users to search for images using natural language queries. It was a complex project with many technical challenges that we had to overcome. But we worked together as a team and devised a well-suited solution.

01:16 Interviewer: That's great to hear. And how about any future goals or projects you're interested in pursuing?

01:22 Interviewee: I'm interested in exploring the intersection of AI and healthcare. There's a lot of potential for improving patient outcomes, and I'm excited to see where that goes.

01:35 Interviewer: That's a fascinating area to be working in. Thank you for your time today and for sharing your experience with us.

01:40 Interviewee: Of course, it was my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Semi-Verbatim Transcription Template

Semi-verbatim transcription is an interview transcript format example that captures the essence of the conversation while omitting unnecessary details such as filler words and minor digressions. This type of transcript balances verbatim and summary transcription, offering a more polished and streamlined interview version. Here are the steps to create a semi-verbatim template:

Step 1: Determine the Purpose of the Interview 

Before you begin creating your template, understand the interview's purpose. Knowing the critical focus will help you to identify the essential pieces of information to include in the transcript.

Step 2: Choose a Format for Your Transcript 

There are several different formats that you can use for your transcript. Some popular options include using tables, bullet points, or a combination of both. Choose a format that best suits your needs and the type of information you will have in the transcript.

Step 3: Decide Which Information to Include in Your Transcript 

When creating your template, decide which information to include in the transcript. At a minimum, your transcript should include the following:

  • Names of the interviewer and interviewee

  • Date and location of the interview

  • Questions asked by the interviewer

  • Answers provided by the interviewee

  • Relevant background noises and nonverbal communication

Step 4: Determine the Level of Detail to Include 

The level of detail you include in your transcript will depend on the purpose of the interview and your intended audience. Some discussions may require a high level of detail, while others only require a conversation summary. Make sure to choose the appropriate level of detail for your transcript.

Step 5: Use Clear and Concise Language 

When creating your transcript template, use clear and concise language. Avoid using overly technical terms or industry jargon that may be difficult for readers to understand. Additionally, make sure to use correct grammar and punctuation.

Here is a template for a semi-verbatim interview transcript:

Interviewer: Good [morning/afternoon/evening], [Name of Interviewee]. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.

Interviewee: Thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here.

[Background Information] Interviewer: Please tell me a little about yourself, your background, and your experience in [relevant field].

Interviewee: Sure. I [briefly describe background and experience in relevant fields].

[Interview Questions and Responses] 

Interviewer: [Pose first interview question].

Interviewee: [Response to first interview question].

Interviewer: [Pose a follow-up question based on the first response or move on to the next question].

Interviewee: [Response to the follow-up question or answer the next question].

Interviewee: [laughter/sigh/other nonverbal communication]

Interviewee: [interruption due to background noise]

Interviewer: Okay, we only have a few minutes left. Can you tell me about [final question]?

Semi-verbatim Example

Here's an example of a complete semi-verbatim transcript using the template:

[Interviewer enters a coffee shop and greets the interviewee, who is already seated at a table.]

Interviewer: Hi there! It's great to meet you in person. How are you doing today?

Interviewee: I'm doing well, thanks for asking. [The interviewee smiles and adjusts their position in their seat.]

Interviewer: So, let's get started. What is your experience working in the finance industry?

Interviewee: Absolutely. [The interviewee leans forward slightly and clears their throat.] I've been working in finance for about 15 years now. I started in banking and eventually moved into investment management.

[Background noise: A barista calls out an order for a latte, and a blender whirs to life as they begin making the drink.]

Interviewer: Interesting. What led you to pursue a career in finance?

Interviewee: I was always interested in math and economics and knew that finance would fit me well. Plus, I enjoy the challenge of analyzing complex financial data and making strategic investment decisions.

Interviewer: Can you talk about a specific project or deal you worked on that you're particularly proud of?

Interviewee: Sure. One of the most challenging projects I worked on was a large-scale merger between two major companies. It was a high-pressure situation with many moving parts, but I was able to navigate the complexities and help bring the deal to a successful close.

[Non-verbal cue: The interviewee nods and sips their coffee.]

Interviewer: That's impressive. What are some of the essential qualities for someone working in finance to possess?

Interviewee: Well, attention to detail is crucial, as is the ability to think critically and make sound decisions under pressure. Communicating effectively and building strong relationships with clients and colleagues are also critical.

[Background noise: A cell phone rings loudly at a nearby table, and a child cries briefly before being comforted by their parent.]

Interviewer: Definitely. And looking ahead, what are some of the biggest trends or challenges facing the finance industry in the next few years?

Interviewee: Technological innovation will continue transforming the industry, and we'll see more emphasis on data analysis and automation. Of course, there will always be economic and geopolitical challenges to navigate.

[Non-verbal cue: The interviewee furrows their brow briefly before relaxing again.]

Interviewer: It sounds like there's a lot to keep up with. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I appreciate it.

Interviewee: Of course, it was my pleasure. [The interviewee stands up and extends a hand to shake.] Thanks for the opportunity.

[The two shake hands, and the interview concludes.]

How to Create a Semi-Verbatim Template With Timestamps

To create a semi-verbatim transcript, use the following template:

[Speaker's Name] [Timestamp]


[NB: Timestamps should be inserted regularly throughout the transcript, for example, every two minutes.]

Although transcribing interviews can be time-consuming and challenging, Notta simplifies the process. This AI-powered transcription tool allows users to upload audio or video recordings and generate accurate transcripts within minutes.

Notta's advanced algorithms can detect and transcribe multiple speakers, understand different accents, and remove background noise to improve accuracy. With Notta, transcribing interviews is no longer a tedious process.

Interview Transcript Format Example

Using the semi-verbatim template, here is an interview transcript format example:

[John Doe] [00:02:00]

Thank you for joining me today, Mary. Please tell me briefly about your background and how you became interested in your field.

[Mary Smith] [00:02:15]

Sure, John. I have always been passionate about science and technology and have pursued a computer science degree. After graduation, I worked for several technology firms before starting my own business.

[John Doe] [00:03:00]

That's impressive, Mary. Can you share some challenges you faced while starting your business with our audience?

[Mary Smith] [00:03:10]

Well, the biggest challenge was securing funding for the business. It was challenging to convince investors to invest in a startup run by a young woman. However, I persevered, and eventually, we secured the funding we needed to get the business off the ground.

As you can see from the example above, the semi-verbatim format captures the essential points of the interview while maintaining the flow of the conversation.

Automated vs. Human Transcription: The Pros and Cons


When transcribing interviews, you have two options: automated or human transcription. While both have advantages and disadvantages, understanding the difference can help you decide which option is best.

Automated transcription involves using software to transcribe audio recordings into text. This can be quick and inexpensive, making it a popular option for those on a tight budget or with a large volume of audio to transcribe.

However, the accuracy of automated transcription can vary widely, especially if there are multiple speakers or if the audio quality is poor. Automatic transcription may also struggle with accents or specialized terminology.

On the other hand, human transcription involves having an actual person transcribe the audio recording. This can result in a higher level of accuracy, as the transcriber can use their judgment to determine the proper spelling of words and ensure that the transcript is formatted correctly.

However, human transcription can be more expensive and time-consuming than automated transcription, and it may not be practical for those with large volumes of audio to transcribe.

To help you better understand the difference between automated and human transcription, the following table compares the two methods side by side:

Automated Transcription VS Human Transcription

FeaturesAutomated TranscriptionHuman Transcription
Ability to handle accentsLimitedHigh
Ability to handle jargonLimitedHigh
Custom formatting optionsLimitedHigh
Ability to handle multiple speakersLimitedHigh


Formatting interview transcripts is vital in preserving valuable information and ensuring it is easy to access. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can create clear and organized transcripts that accurately capture the essence of the interview.

Whether you transcribe manually or use automated tools, it's important to remember that each method has pros and cons. Ultimately, the best approach will depend on your specific needs and resources.

Regardless, always prioritize accuracy, clarity, and consistency in your transcripts. With practice and attention to detail, you can master the art of formatting interview transcripts and preserve your valuable information for future generations.