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Create useful transcripts

Guidance for how to create and embed transcripts for video and audio content.

A transcript is the text version of the audio and key visual information contained in a video or audio file. It should be as descriptive as is needed for those using the transcript to get the same level of understanding that they would from watching the video.

Some videos may not have any audio or only non-verbal audio (e.g. music or sound effects). These still require a transcript describing the important visual information.

Accessibility requirements and benefits

Videos, podcasts and other audio files published on must include a transcript in order to meet WCAG 2.1 accessibility requirements and be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you don't provide a transcript, you're preventing these users from accessing your information.

A transcript will also enable a range of other users to engage with your content, such as:

  • people who have difficulty processing or focusing on auditory information
  • people who aren't proficient in English and find it easier to read than listen
  • people with slow internet connections or limited mobile data
  • people who would prefer to skim a transcript than spend the time watching or listening to the content
  • people who cannot play the audio because of the environment they're in (potentially too noisy to hear, or too quiet to play audio)
  • people who want to search the information provided, for example to quote a speaker.

Providing a transcript will also improve your SEO as it allows search engines to index the information contained in your video or audio files.

Planning your transcript

  • Factor in needing a transcript as soon as it's decided to create or use video or audio content.
  • If you are working with an external vendor, specify that you need a transcript that meets WCAG AA standardsExternal Link and our formatting guidelines below.
  • Your transcript will need to be uploaded as HTML text – not as a Word document or PDF.
  • If you use automated transcribing software, you will need to review the transcript for errors and also apply basic formatting.
    • Tip: Microsoft StreamExternal Link will allow you to create a WebVTT file stripped of time codes, metadata and extra lines that will make editing and formatting your transcript much easier.

Formatting your transcript

Basic style guidelines

  • Bold the names of any speakers.
  • Add paragraph breaks between speakers and non-spoken information.
  • Include non-spoken information inside square brackets.
  • Use regular punctuation, such as capital letters and full stops.
  • Link any websites, email addresses and phone numbers.
  • At the end of your transcript, write [End of transcript] inside square brackets.

Multiple speakers

When there are multiple speakers in a video you need to identify in the transcript who is saying what. Bold the names of speakers and include their speech on the same line.

Write the full name of the speaker the first time they appear in the transcript, and after that you can choose to shorten this to just their first name or their last name or their initials.

John Smith: Are you heading to the shops later?

Jane Doe: No, can't say that I am.

John: Guess I'll take the bus.

Non-spoken information

Include any audio descriptions, non-speech audio and on-screen text in square brackets on a new line.

For on-screen text, include this in the brackets.

[On-screen text: Good Transcripts Conference 2022]

John Smith: Hello and welcome to the Good Transcripts Conference 2022. I'm your host, John Smith, and joining me to provide you with advice are my fellow panellists Jane Doe and Joe Bloggs.

Jane Doe: [Laughing] Hi everyone!

Joe Bloggs: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

[Audience claps. John Smith walks over to the panellists.]

John: Thank you for being here.


Timestamps aren't necessary as they can disrupt the flow of your transcript. However, if your video or audio file is quite long, you could include timestamps that signal the start of specific sections. Our recommendation is to add these at the start of the transcript.

Video sections

00:00 Introduction

01:30 Best practice for creating transcripts

02:56 Where to include timestamps

04:21 Conclusion

Transcript of video

Speaker: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa.

Transcripts in another language

For any videos spoken in a language other than English, please provide a transcript written in the same language.

Some languages are written right-to-left and/or require a specific font to be used. For these transcripts, include the relevant language code in the landing page's meta data. These codes are listed in our Translated content guide.

Adding your transcript to the CMS

When uploading videos to the media library you will see a mandatory field for transcripts. Use this field to add your html transcript to the media file.

When you embed the video on a page, a dropdown menu will show several options for how it can be displayed. Leave this as the default option: Embedded with transcript. This will mean the link to the transcript is included wherever you embed this media file.

For more instructions on uploading a new video, read our guide on how to add a video.

Example of best practice

Click on the View transcript link below this video to see a transcript that includes multiple speakers as well as on-screen text.

Reviewed 01 July 2022

Single Digital Presence

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