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Not long ago, I interviewed Jason Fladlien of Rapid Crush for a book I wrote with Connie Ragen Green. It ran for about 40 minutes and I recorded it in Zoom. Then, I needed to get the recording into the book.

You can use YouTube to get a free transcription of any video and then Microsoft Word to put it into paragraph format. After that, you’ll still need to clean it up as well as add punctuation, capitals, and paragraphs.

Here’s what I did…

Upload the video to YouTube and get the transcription

online-business-free-transcription-video-1I uploaded the video to my YouTube channel, making it private.

Then I clicked the 3 dots below the right side of the video and chose Open Transcript. (You need to play the video once first. If you don’t see the transcription, click the CC button below the video and play the video.)

The transcript opened at the right. Here you see a transcript of another video on my YouTube channel. You can see that it shows the timing with a phrase next to each timestamp.


Then, I clicked the vertical 3 dots at the top of the transcript and chose Toggle Timestamps. This removes the timestamps. You can remove them in Microsoft Word, but that’s a little complicated, so it’s much easier to do it this way.

I scrolled to the top, dragged down the entire transcript to select it, and copied it to the Windows clipboard.

Edit the transcription in Microsoft Word

I pasted it into a new Word document. The transcript comes in like the transcript, with one phrase on a line. There’s a paragraph mark after each line. If you go to the Home tab and click the Show/Hide Paragraph button in the Paragraph section, you can see them.

online-business-free-transcription-video-3To remove the paragraphs marks at the end of each line and turn everything into one paragraph, I used Find and Replace. First, click in the first line so that your cursor is there.

On the Home tab, in the Editing section, I clicked Replace to open the Find and Replace dialog box. I clicked in the Find What box and then clicked More at the lower left.

Then I clicked the Special button at the bottom and choose Paragraph Mark. You’ll see ^p in the Find What box.

I then clicked in the Replace With box and pressed the Spacebar once.  When you do this, you should test it before replacing all of the paragraph marks. To test, choose Find Next and it should find the next Paragraph mark. Click Replace and it should turn the paragraph mark into a space and the second line should move to the end of the first line, with a space. If it’s working properly,  click Replace All. Word tells you the number of replacements. Click OK. Click Close to close the Find and Replace dialog box.

If you clicked the Show/Hide Paragraph button before, click it again to remove the paragraph marks and dots between each word.

Now I had the entire interview in paragraph form! Here’s a screenshot of the shorter video I’m using as an example.  You can watch it here.


You can see that YouTube does an excellent job of transcription, but it isn’t perfect. Mostly, it needs punctuation, capitals, and paragraphs.

Here’s the final transcript:


Other tools and uses for transcriptions

Not bad, right? What do you use for transcription? Here are some other tools I know of, but I haven’t tried them:

Do you know of others?

What uses can you think of for transcription? For example:

  • Offering a PDF version of a video course as a bonus or upsell
  • Turning an interview you did into a blog post or report
  • Converting a course you bought into text so you can implement it more easily
  • Putting both a video and its transcript on your About page
  • Creating a presentation that is accessible to people with visual impairments. If you want to create a VTT (closed-caption file), keep the timestamps. Here are instructions for creating a VTT file manually.


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    7 replies to "How to create a free transcription of a video"

    • Connie Ragen Green

      Love this tip, Ellen! You always find the best resources and then share them so we will benefit as well. Thank you!
      Connie Ragen Green

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      You’re welcome, Connie! I’ve known about this feature for a while, but hadn’t used it. Then I got to use it twice in a couple of weeks, so I thought it would be useful to others.

    • JQ Rose

      Opened my eyes to this method. Thanks.

    • Aneta ThinkOfAll

      Wow. This is very helpful because of all the ‘how to’ videos on YouTube. You are always full of ideas and continually very generous about sharing them. It’s worth my time to read your emails!

      One question though: What do we have to remember if transcribing ‘free’ content of other people’s how-to videos on YouTube this is only for our own videos? I suppose not, bcause most of us would already have at least an outline or a script before creating a video, yes?

    • Ellen Finkelstein

      Aneta, that’s a brilliant thought. I have only used this technique with videos that I created or owned. Of course, if you use the transcription of someone else’s video, you should use it only for your own personal purposes, since that person owns the copyright.

      In my case, I did an interview, as I described in the blog post. For one of my clients, she needed a transcript of a video testimonial. So there was no script in either case.

    • LaWanna

      Thank you for the tip! Rev is not going to be pleased. They charge a dollar a minute for for audio. I don’t know what they charge for video. Thanks again.

    • John Sorflaten

      Check out the smartphone app “Otter”. It does speech to text for free…. and pretty good, as that. So, put your smartphone (with Otter “on”) near you when recording your video, or play the video and let Otter transcribe it.

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