Editing: Turning your Transcript into Profile

You've now got a typed transcript of your conversation. You want to turn it into a finished profile. This editing process is a craft. That means that there are rarely hard-and-fast rules to be followed about how much to edit, how to punctuate, and so on. But we can offer some advance and a few guidelines.

Editing requires you to make many choices. In making these choices, you will probably have to balance at least four objectives: (1) creating a readable story that engages readers' interest and is easy to follow (2) presenting a text that preserves the style, rhythm and "sound" of the speaker while honoring your interviewee's words and meaning, (3) producing a written text that the speaker will be comfortable with, and (4) crafting a story that satisfies your own preferences as an editor/ collaborator.

Follow the links  below for guidelines and examples in response to the questions that students frequently ask.

Getting started

Most editors find that they edit in several stages (working through a manuscript multiple times) as they craft a satisfactory profile. Here's one way to approach the various editing tasks:

  1. Deal first with formatting issues: add a working title and by-lines, create paragraphs, add punctuation, eliminate or bracket your interview questions.
  2. Next, tackle basic editing issues: edit for repetition, complete or delete sentence fragments; eliminate "verbal tics" (phrases like "you know, or "sort of" that occur repeatedly), work on improving the transitions between different parts of the story.
  3. Third, consider some of the more complex editing issues: whether (and where) to move text around to create a more coherent story; how to deal with the differences between what's grammatical acceptable in spoken, but not written English; what to do with colloquial dialects or non-native English speakers. 

    Tip: Save each of these stages as a separate file so that you can refer back to earlier, less edited versions if necessary.
  4. Finally, no discussion of editing would be complete without considering issues of confidentiality & approvals: changing names or not; dealing with sensitive information; deciding with whom you may share the transcript, profile, or stories you have heard; and obtaining your interviewee's review and approval for the finished profile.