When to Use Human vs Automated Transcription: Making the Right Choice | myTranscriptionplace Blog

When to Use Human vs Automated Transcription: Making the Right Choice

May 18, 2023, Nishi Singh

Simply put, transcription helps convert spoken words into written text. The digitized text has There are loads of use cases where this digitized text is applied – from subtitles in your favorite movies, to enabling search and analysis of audio and video, to sharing information. 

When it comes to transcription, you have two primary options: human transcription and automated transcription. In this blog, I'll guide you through the factors to consider when deciding between human transcription services and automated transcription solutions, helping you make the right choice based on expertise, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness.


One of the main reasons when deciding between human and automated transcription is the level of expertise required for your content. Experienced and well-trained human transcriptionists excel in handling complex audio with multiple speakers, technical jargon, accents, or background noise. They can understand context, identify speakers, and produce accurate transcripts that capture the nuances of the conversation.

On the other hand, automated transcription relies on speech recognition algorithms. These algorithms have improved significantly over the years, and handle many of the tasks that were hitherto only possible if a person was involved. There could still be challenges related to the quality of audio or industry specific terms. With the proliferation of high-quality recording across various devices including our mobile phones, the audio quality is getting addressed at the source. And industry specific models are being made available almost every day. While not yet offering 99% word error rate (wer) for all languages and dialects, is vastly improved ove the last couple of years.


Accurate transcriptions are crucial, especially when dealing with legal, medical, or sensitive content. Human transcription services often offer higher accuracy rates compared to automated solutions. Humans can decipher ambiguous or inaudible sections of the audio by employing contextual knowledge, experience, and critical thinking. They can also proofread and edit the transcript to ensure consistency and correct any errors.

Automated transcription, while convenient and faster, may not always guarantee the same level of accuracy in all cases as humans can. In order to handle the accuracy gap, I would recommend a layer of human curation to address any misinterpretations of acronyms, context, or homophones can lead to inaccuracies in the final transcript. With this hybrid approach, you can still accelerate turnaround, while bringing down costs associated with some of the more mundane aspects. 

Time and Efficiency:

Time is a crucial consideration when deciding between human and automated transcription services. Automated transcription software can process audio files rapidly, providing near-instant results. This speed also enables addition of a human curation layer, while keeping costs under control.

On the other hand, human transcription involves a longer turnaround time due to the manual effort involved. Transcriptionists need to listen to the audio carefully, transcribe it accurately, and proofread the transcript before delivery. This process takes more time, the result is often a polished and reliable transcript that could be made available from a fully automated or hybrid approach. 


Cost is another factor to consider when making the decision between human and automated transcription services. Automated transcription tools are generally more cost-effective, and many offer pay-as-you-go or subscription-based pricing models. These services are scalable, making them suitable for high-volume transcription needs without breaking the bank.

Human transcription, on the other hand, can be more expensive due to the labor-intensive nature of the work. Skilled transcriptionists are hard to come by, and typically will invest time and effort iteratively to produce accurate and high-quality transcripts. This can result in higher costs, especially for larger projects or specialized content.


Choosing between human and automated transcription ultimately depends on your specific requirements and priorities. If accuracy, expertise, and context sensitivity are vital, manual transcription services are likely your best bet. For sheer speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness, automated transcription tools can be more than adequate. 

Keep in mind that hybrid approaches are also an option. You can use automated transcription to generate a rough draft and then have it reviewed and edited by human transcriptionists for higher accuracy. This combination allows you to strike a balance between efficiency and quality. Not to mention the benefits of a fully automated transcript also providing great accuracy in most cases.