Tips on Transcribing From a Dictaphone

by Elton DunnUpdated July 21, 2017
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Using a Dictaphone to record thoughts, meeting minutes or a conference is just the first step to preserving your ideas. A transcriptionist can turn that recording into a written text, making it easier to see the key points and preserving your words for posterity. Dictaphone transcription requires patience, clear listening and fast (and accurate) typing skills.


If you work in a shared office, you'll want to use your Dictaphone with headphones so you don't disturb the office noise level. For accuracy, hook your Dictaphone up to a foot pedal, which also is called a foot switch or treadle switch. This allows you to stop and start the audio with your feet, since your hands are busy typing.

Getting Started

Whether you're a new transcriber or an experienced worker getting used to a new voice, you'll want to start off slowly to avoid making mistakes. Call up a blank document on your computer and get ready to type. Then, use your foot switch to start the audio. Listen to a sentence or two, then depress the foot pedal. Type what you heard. Play a little more, then type. As you get comfortable with the process, you'll need to pause less often, and you can type while you are listening. Save your file often so you do not lose your work.

Careful Listening

There may be times when the speaker's voice gets muffled or when outside noise intrudes onto the Dictaphone recording. In this case, stop the audio and rewind. Listen again to the words, listening over and over until you understand what was said.


While you will get most of the transcription, you probably won't be 100 percent accurate, and that's fine. When you finish your job, listen to the tape from the beginning and follow along on the transcript. If you come to an area with an error, stop the audio and correct your work.


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About the Author

A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.

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