What’s The Difference Between Translation and Transcription Services?

translation and transcription

When people see the words translation and transcription, they often assume they are the same word or have a similar meaning. This causes people to use the words interchangeably. However, the words have different meanings and are not interchangeable. While they have a lot of similarities, they also have significant differences. Below are some of the primary differences;


The easiest way to differentiate transcription and translation is through their definitions. Transcription is the process of creating written documents from notes and audio information. This means that you can transcribe notes or documents and audio information. In simpler words, creating a second copy of a written document counts as transcription as much as creating a written copy of the audio. On the other hand, translation is the process of rendering from one language to another. In translation, you take the material in one language and create a written record of its content in a different language.

The purpose

Another difference between them is the purpose. The purpose of translation is to render content from one language to another. On the other hand, the purpose of transcription is to create accurate and consistent written documents from written and audio content. This is the clearest difference between the two. However, it is worth mentioning that transcription is often part of the translation process. Translators usually start by transcribing content. The audio content is converted into written content before it is translated. This relationship between transcription and translation is one of the reasons the two terms are confused for each other.

The content

A significant difference between transcription and translation is the content. Sometimes in transcription, the content is converted word for word. This means that everything spoken is recorded verbatim without leaving anything. Other times, the transcriptionist will tidy up and paraphrase some of the content to make it clearer, professional, and concise. On the other hand, in translation, the translators do not care to rewrite the content word for word. Doing this could lead to the context and overall message being lost in translation. This is mainly due to the differences between different languages. Therefore, translators must take the content and determine how to express it correctly in another language. Multilingual translators often do the translation for accuracy and consistency.


There are also differences between the applications of transcription and translation. Transcription services are used in various fields. For instance, they are used to create transcripts for deaf individuals. They are also used to create subtitles and closed captions for videos for better clarity, understanding, and viewer retention. Transcription also helps make translation possible. On the other hand, translation is primarily used to enable people who speak different languages to access the content. For instance, companies will translate their website content to increase their reach by allowing clients from different continents to access and understand their content.

While transcription can be used in translation, vice versa is not possible. You can determine whether you need transcription or translation by considering your needs. Your needs will determine the ideal services you require.


Translators work with two different languages; the source and target language. This means they need to understand the two languages perfectly, including their grammatical differences. They also require cultural knowledge for quality translation. On the other hand, transcribers only use one language; the source language. However, they need immense knowledge of the language. This includes accent and cultural knowledge.


In translation, the purpose is to create a written content format. On the other hand, in transcription, the purpose can be to create a written, audio, or sign language format of the original content. This depends on the needs and the person for whom the content is created.

Final words

One of the primary similarities between transcription and translation is they both aim to ensure high accuracy levels. In addition, they also both purpose to maintain information within the content for future references and applications. The fact that they sound the same also counts as a similarity. However, the differences are more than the similarities. While the concepts are different, some companies provide both translation and transcription services. Both processes are time-consuming and complex. Therefore, you may benefit from professional services.