Interviewing »

Conventions for Transcribing Interviews

Transcripts should include everything the respondent said, except for "ums" and "ahs." Some researchers include grammatical errors and false starts.

Double dashes (--) indicate that a statement is cut off abruptly, usually because a sudden thought interrupts the sentence.

Punctuation should be used sparingly, only to improve readability. Punctuation will vary between interviews, as it should reflect how the respondent speaks.

Quotation marks are used when the respondent quotes another person.

An ellipse (…) sometimes indicates a pause in the respondent's discourse. Some transcribers indicate a speaker's pause with four dots, or a colon in round brackets (:). The number of colons indicates the length of the pause. For example, three colons indicates a three second pause (:::). Longer pauses can be indicated with the word "pause" round brackets (pause). An ellipse in the final written report may also indicate that the writer has edited some parts of an excerpt for brevity.

Square brackets are used for interviewer's comments. Square brackets also indicate the substitution of a category in place of a proper noun to remove identifying material from the interview. Square brackes could also indicate where verbatim transcription ends and the interviewer turns to summarization.


Round brackets are used for the respondent's non-verbal communication.

Examples: (pause) (laugh) (waving gesture with right hand) (clears throat)

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