How To Avoid Common Transcription Errors / Mistakes

Following are some of the most common errors people make when transcribing audio along with suggestions on how to avoid them.

You can make errors because you mishear what has been said or you can mistype what you hear.

Typing Errors
You press the wrong key.

E.g. you type “busienss” instead of “business.”

Soundalike words/homophones

Some of the most common mistakes that are made in transcripts are the incorrect use of words that sound the same but have a different meaning. You can see some British-English homophones at


it’s (short for “it is”) and its (possessive)
you’re (short for “you are”) and your (denotes possession)
they’re, their and there
to, too and two
ad and add
here and hear

Avoid mistakes by learning the meaning of sound-alike words and use the correct one by paying attention to the content.

Soundalike letters

“The fog was dense”, but instead type “The dog was dense.” Avoid mistakes like this one by thinking about the content.  


Transposing is another common typing and transcription mistake. A transposition error happens when characters have “transposed” or have switched places. Transposition can happen with numbers, letters and words. When changing the sequence of words, the meaning can change.


  • 92058 vs 92085
  • dent vs. tend

Atomic typos

An atomic typo is a small, one-letter typographic mistake. You type one wrong letter and type a word that exists but that is different from the intended word. This small, one-letter mistake can make a big difference in the meaning of a sentence. By typing a word that exists, the spellchecker will not find the mistake.


  • you vs your
  • the vs they
  • accept vs except
  • peace vs piece
  • abroad vs aboard
  • county vs country
  • nuclear vs unclear
  • Sudan vs sedan

Misspelled names

Names can have many different spellings like An, Anne; Smith or Smyth or Smythe; Kathy or Katie. You can ask the client for the spelling of names mentioned in the recording.

You should look up names of well-known people, cities, company names, brand names and others online.


You can use the incorrect word because you didn’t hear the word correctly. In addition to words that sound the same, letters can sound similar – especially when listening to a recording.


  • game for name
  • sox for box

Other transcription errors

Transcription can also include the following mistakes:

  • Omission of words or sentences.
  • Lack of consistency or common usage.
  • Misuse of words.
  • Spelling mistakes.
  • Grammar mistakes.
  • Failure to flag conflicting information (e.g. left/right)

Autocorrect mistakes

Be careful with autocorrect features. Autocorrect can automatically correct mistakes but if you hit the wrong keys, it can turn a couple of charactors into complete sentences  and even paragraphs you didn’t mean to use.

How to avoid making errors

Making errors can be inconvenient, costly and even be fatal when medical errors are made. So, how can you avoid making errors or at least limit them as much as possible?

  • Eliminate background noise.
  • Try to get high-quality recordings and dictation by educating your clients about the importance of them.
  • Check references and resource materials. Look up any words you’re not familiar with. Use reliable resources when conducting research. Check authority sites instead of lesser known sites as not every website provides accurate information
  • If you still don’t know the spelling of one or more words after researching it, ask your client when possible or flag the word.
  • Spellcheck. As spellchecking won’t catch all mistakes, you also have to proofread.
  • Proofread all transcripts thoroughly proofread after they’ve been completed. This is the only way to find typos, inconsistencies and words or numbers that don’t make sense in the context.
  • Have a different person proofread.
  • Listen to the complete recording a second time while checking the transcript.
  • Be careful, use logic and think about the content of the recording.
  • Don’t use voice recognition programs. Or if you do, listen to the complete recording and proofread the transcript. Voice recognition programs can’t understand the meaning of words. Only human transcribers can know the right word with the right meaning when words sound the same.

Following those recommendations will greatly reduce mistakes.


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