Editorial Comments


  • Use editorial comments when they interfere with hearing or part of the speech, or when they are necessary for understanding the context of the discussion.
  • Editorial comments are designed to add context and minimize the use of “unintelligible” to describe audio uncertainties. If you cannot describe the audio uncertainty that is preventing you from hearing the speech, then you will use “unintelligible.”
  • Comments will be enclosed in brackets and italicized.
  • Follow standard capitalization and punctuation rules.

Interviewer:                       [Laughter] Very funny.

Interviewee:                       It was very funny, [laughter] but he didn’t think so.

  • Type comments as they occur on the transcript unless the comment applies to all speakers (see next section).
  • within the text

How to Time Stamp Editorial Comments (This rule applies to ALL editorial comments)

If the comment does not interfere with speech, do not time stamp it[Laughter]

If it does interfere with hearing, or if the comment lasts over 5 seconds, time stamp it as follows:

  • once if under 5 seconds [Laughter 00:00]
  • open and close if over 5 seconds [Laughter 00:00 - 00:00]

*Avoid putting periods, commas, question marks, or quotes in italics after an editorial comment.

Break in line:

When a line breaks due to an interjection, a pause or any other editorial comment, please re-insert the speaker label on the continuation of the speech in the next line.

This helps to keep clarity of who is speaking again, even if it is the same person speaking as before the pause. E.g:

Interviewee: Yes. I like to go to the school and learn—

[Pause 00:10 - 00:20]

Interviewee: - new things.

Common Editorial Comments

Laughter, Crying, Coughing, Whispering, Sneezing, Phone Ringing, etc.
Common descriptors that can add context to a discussion.
Inaudible or unclear speech. If you are unable to make out a word or phrase after listening to it three times, use unintelligible. Interviewer:                  [Unintelligible 07:31] and it would begin in August. Interviewee:                 Okay. Here we have [unintelligible 07:47].
Any break in speech lasting longer than five seconds. A pause should be on its own line. Any break in speech under five seconds can be ignored. Please time stamp the open and close of the pause: [Pause 05:21 - 05:34]
When participants speak simultaneously and you cannot hear or decipher what they are saying. Place crosstalk on its own line when more than two speakers talk at once. Interviewer:                  Do you [crosstalk 02:25] the library?
Fading Voice
Voice trailing off.
Extraneous Conversation
A brief conversation that is not relevant to the interview can be eliminated altogether. E.g., if someone walks into the room and says something off-topic. Always time stamp the opening and closing of extraneous conversation. It should always be placed on its own line. [Extraneous Conversation 00:00 - 00:00]
Audio Cuts Out, Distorted Audio, Static
Descriptors for poor audio that prevent hearing.
Background Noise
Noise in the background.
Extraneous Noise
An unidentifiable sound.
Foreign Language
Always time stamp any foreign language spoken. Do not identify the foreign language; simply use [foreign language xx:xx]. **DO NOT try to guess or phonetically spell any foreign language, even if you might be familiar with it, as some clients later require translation of the foreign language. Our translators use the [foreign language xx:xx] editorial notes to locate parts to translate.
👥Comments for Multiple Speakers