Transcription Specialists
Meeting your needs. Exceeding your expectations.
30 Years!
1994 - 2024
Frequently Asked Questions




How do I get my program to you?


Media Files

If your program is in the form of media files you can transfer your files to our File Transferr.  Or, if you have your own server, just provide the hostname, username, and password and we'll pick up your programs from there.


Live Recording

We can also record your program live via telephone patch. This gets the program to us as it happens. We can provide you a quote for this service.



That depends on how time-critical the work is. Do you need quick turnaround? If so, then overnight service is the best way.


If time is not a factor, then 2nd-day delivery or even standard First-Class Mail will work.


Via the Web

We can record your webcast or other streaming media directly from the web (same rates as telephone recording), or you can ship/transfer the webcast audio to us.


Magnetic Tapes

We're sorry, but we do not transcribe from any magnetic media.


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What media can I use?


You can send us your program on any of the following:

  • CD

  • DVD

  • *streaming Web media

  • media files in all of the popular formats:
        CD Audio
        DVD Video
        WRF, ARF  (WebEx recorded conference)
        DSS (Olympus Digital Voice Recorder)
        SDV (Sony Digital Voice recorder)
        Others (give us a call and we'll try to accommodate!)

    on any of the following media
        Recordable CD (CD-R)
        Rewriteable CD (CD-RW)
        Recordable DVD (DVD-R, DVD+R)
        Rewriteable DVD (DVD-RW, DVD+RW)
        Transfer the files to us via Shadow File Transfer 
        provide login credentials for your server and we'll pick them up from there
        Use a file-transfer service such as Hightail or DropBox


*Material streamed over the Web must be dubbed into our transcription interface, which incurs an additional charge. There is no dubbing charge for downloadable Web media.

Sorry, we do not handle tape media of any kind.


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What factors affect a transcript's cost?


The final cost of a transcript depends on several factors. Because of the number of variables, we bill for our services based on the length of time it takes to do the transcription, as opposed to a price per line or per page (in the age of computers, how long is a line or a page anyway?). The unit of billing we use is the transcription hour, which equates to an hour of a transcriptionist's time, in quarter-hour increments. How much of the program a transcriptionist can complete in an hour depends primarily upon the following:


  • Rate of speech. Assume we're talking about a 1-hour program. A fast speaker will cram more words into that hour than a person who speaks at a more moderate rate. More words means more typing, which translates into a greater length of time required to transcribe the program. Additionally, fast speakers tend to slur words together, making them difficult to interpret. Conversely, a slower speaker makes for faster transcription because there are fewer words in that 1-hour program.

  • Audio quality. Good-quality audio goes a long way toward producing the most time-efficient transcription. Here, we refer not only to the technical quality of the audio, but the overall intelligibility. If there is a lot of room echo (the speaker is off-mike), a piece of equipment nearby is humming, or an audience member sitting by the mike has a cough then the transcriber may have to go back over the same segment many times to catch all of the speaker's words.

  • Transcript RefinementHow closely the transcript needs to resemble the original program will affect the length of time it takes to transcribe the program. An exact (or fine) refinement will take longer than a transcript which is "cleaned up", i.e., where the uhs, stumbles and repeated words and phrases are eliminated.

  • Number of speakers. A panel discussion takes longer to transcribe than a single-person presentation, simply due to the need for the transcriptionist to switch back and forth between speakers. With multiple speakers there is the possibilty of people talking over each other. Q&A sessions are in this category as well.

  • Foreign accents. Speakers whose native language is not American English can be more difficult to transcribe, and so the transcript takes longer to produce.

As a rule of thumb, it takes 4 to 5 hours to produce a "cleaned-up" transcript of a 1-hour program of good audio quality with
1 or 2 speakers.


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Why does it take 4 to 5 hours to transcribe an hour-long program if it's only 1 hour?


A person speaks about 200-250 words per minute, while a transcriptionist can type about 50 words per minute, depending upon the quality of the program. So a transcriptionist's typing takes 4 to 5 times the length of time it takes the speaker to speak (divide 200 or 250 by 50). 

Focus groups, panel discussions, and business meetings require more time to transcribe than do speeches and interviews.


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What is transcript refinement?


At Shadow, we use the guidelines below in transcribing your program. You tell us how refined you want the transcript to be as follows:

  • Cleaned up. This is the best choice for a transcript that is intended to be distributed for reading as opposed to one that will be used for post-production. We eliminate the "uhs", throat clearings, repeated phrases, etc. to improve clarity so that the transcript "reads" easily.

  • Medium. A transcript refined to this level will contain repeated phrases, self-corrections, etc., but the "uhs", vocal tics, and other non-speech sounds are excluded.

  • Fine. This is a word-for-word, uh-for-uh, exact replication of the program. Every vocal tic, throat clearing, cough, whatever, will be included in the transcript. This is a good choice for video post-production because the editor can decide whether to include or exclude a segment based on the "quality" of speech without having to view the segment itself.

These are intended only as guidelines to indicate the level of refinement we can apply to your transcript. Of course, we will transcribe the program to any level of refinement in between as you request.


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Can you include timestamps in the transcript?


Yes, many of our clients request this service, and there is no additional charge!

We can time-stamp your transcript based upon any of the following:

  • Starting time code.
     If you give us the starting time code for your media file, we can fill in the rest!

  • Video window dubs.
    Does your video have a "window burn-in"? We can transcribe from video that contains the time code in a window and include the time code as we transcribe. 

  • Elapsed time.
    Each time stamp represents the elapsed time from the beginning of the program.


NOTE: We no longer provide extraction of time code from embedded SMPTE LTC.


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How do you get the transcript back to me?


How would you like it? Our most commonly-used method is email in which your transcript is sent as an attachment to an email message. Our transcription rates include sending the transcript via email to as many recipients as you wish. If the transcript file is too large to email, we will place it on our FTP server for you to pick up, or deliver it via another method of your choosing (your own FTP server, HIghtail, WeTransfer, etc).


For an additional charge, we can mail your transcript to you in hardcopy or CD.


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If I choose an electronic medium, what format do you use?


Our most popular document format is Microsoft Word for Windows (97/2000/XP/2003/2007/2013). However, we can also produce transcripts in Word for Macintosh format, Rich Text Format (RTF), ACSII text, and a variety of WordPerfect formats. If there's a special format you need, we'll do our best to accommodate you.


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What forms of payment do you accept?


We accept American Express cards, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and checks as payment. An invoice is issued at the completion of the job and terms are net 30 days.

For first-time customers, we may request credit card payment information (card number, expiration date, cardholder name) in advance of the job. Once payment history has been established, you may continue to pay by credit card in the future, or pay by check.


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