Abbreviated General Guidelines - effective May 18, 2015 12am PT.

Use this as your quick reference guide, see Full Guidelines here for further clarifications.


Clean Verbatim Transcripts

  • Transcribe the audio content exactly as heard, but leave out disfluencies (um, uh, ah, eh); filler words (hm, you know, like); stutters, stammers, unnecessary repetitions, and false starts.
    • “I was um, uh, wa- waiting outside” becomes “I was waiting outside.”
    • “I, i, It, it, was in two, 2000, uh, 2015” becomes “It was in 2015.”
    • “It was, like, you know, a pretty boring experience” becomes “It was a pretty boring experience.”
  • Transcribe the full word (rolling instead of rollin’, them instead of ‘em, okay instead of ‘kay) unless the approved slang term (cuz, gotta, wanna, etc.) is listed here.
  • Use the video to guide formatting and spelling. If a speaker references a term or a phrase, format it as shown on-screen. Use Google to search for unknown terminology or names. *When in doubt, guess at the word and append it with /g (“radiology/g”).

Speaker Changes

  • Each time there is a new speaker in the media, indicate the change with a double chevron like this: Hello Amy. >> Hello Charlie.
  • There is no need to use a double chevron for the first speaker, only at each subsequent change in speaker.
  • Use speaker changes to indicate a change in speaker with human-made sounds like [LAUGH], [COUGH], [APPLAUSE], etc. No need for speaker changes with non-human-made sounds like introductory music, [MUSIC] or silence [BLANK_AUDIO].

Grammar & Punctuation

  • End all HITs with proper punctuation, unless you are confident the speaker is mid-word or mid-sentence and will continue speaking.
  • Use proper punctuation whenever possible, make transcripts as readable as possible.
  • Only use a dash to indicate an interruption mid-sentence (“Jiminy Crick-“) by another speaker.
  • Discouraged punctuation marks. Only use quotation marks (“ “), semicolons (;) or colons (:) to represent a title, proper noun, or computer programming code that is displayed in the media. When in doubt, do not use these punctuation marks. Do not use ellipses (…) or em-dashes (--).
  • Whenever possible, break up run-on sentences with proper punctuation. Remember- your transcripts will become captions for the deaf and hard of hearing. Think about how the sentence will be displayed on the screen. 

Sound Tags and Shortcuts

  • All plot-relevant audio content should be recorded in your transcript. One tag per uninterrupted period of sound. Use shortcuts to insert tags to indicate certain sounds or blank portions of audio.
  • Use bbb (for BLANK_AUDIO) when there is no audio for greater than 2 seconds in a clip. *Identifying the blank portions is important for proper caption timing.
  • Use mmm (for MUSIC) to indicate music and singing in the media. There is no need to use this for background music played simultaneously with speech. *You may be instructed on a per job basis to transcribe the lyrics of a song, but when in doubt use the MUSIC tag only.
  • Transcribe as much as possible. Use iii (for INAUDIBLE) when the media is unintelligible.
  • Use uuu (for UNKNOWN) if you cannot transcribe the word or term but it is audible.
  • Use sss (for SOUND) for distinct sounds in the media (gunshots, beeping, animal sounds, engine noise, etc). Do not use sss for static in a recording unless it is abrupt and significant (when the only sound is static, use bbb for BLANK_AUDIO).

Math, Science and Computers

  • Numbers from zero to ten should be spelled out, see all Exceptions here.
  • Use numerals for numbers greater than 11 (“400,000”). Use numerals with “million” and “billion” and “trillion” with the appropriate number (“1 billion people”). Use consistent number formatting within the same sentence.
  • For currency, use the dollar sign ($) when “dollars” is spoken. (“$1 billion”). Write out foreign currencies (“1 billion euros”).
  • Use the percent symbol (%) with an appropriate numeral (50% or 0.5%). Write out the word if no number is associated with it (“What percent of the world’s people are American?”).
  • Use lowercase letters for variables in formulas, unless the media or speaker indicates uppercase.
  • Spell out functions and notations, and fractions (two-thirds, squared, sigma, cosine, etc).
  • Use proper notation for web URLs ( when “w-w-w dot google dot com” is spoken), IP addresses (, telephone numbers (1-800-555-1212), email addresses (
  • Match your transcript to on screen formatting for computer related media.


Link to Full General Guidelines here.   Link to CrowdSurf Glossary here.   Questions? Contact us



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