Sociolinguistics Brown Bag
Getting Started Using Express Scribe
Express Scribe is a free audio playback program that will allow you
to transcribe your recordings. You will find it most useful for handling
conversational recordings. It has a variable speed playback and can be
controlled with your keyboard or using a foot pedal. It can be
Getting a soundfile into Express Scribe:
Express Scribe recognizes a large variety of sound file formats including
.wav or .aif files. These are the easiest files to load. Other soundfiles that
may be loaded onto Express Scribe are listed at the above website.
Loading your sound file is fairly straightforward. They can either be found
by going through the load icon in the program or more easily by simply
dragging the file to the Express Scribe file menu.
By then clicking on the sound file in the menu, it should begin to
While the program has its own word processing box, word
processing in Express Scribe is buggy (at least in the version of software
currently available), and it appears that the program works just as well if
you open and type into Microsoft Word (or other word processor). Open
both programs on your desktop, and arrange on-screen so you can move
back-and-forth between them easily. This can be a better option if you
tend to type more slowly. An extended pause when typing into the
Express Scribe word-processing box will cause the cursor to move back to
the beginning of the paragraph, which can be frustrating.
The function keys that are listed under “control” in the main menu
of Express Scribe may not work as expected. If this is the case, go to
“settings” and then “control” (or to “hot keys set-up” under the main
“control” option). The hot keys that are listed there are the ones that your
computer is actually set to. By clicking on the keys that are listed, you
can also change the function of each key if you choose to.
The speed of the playback can be adjusted in the bottom-right of
the Express Scribe program. This will adjust the speed if you are using
the program manually with the hot keys, or also if you are using the foot
pedals. (This is important as the foot pedals control play, rewind, and fast
forward but play at a constant speed.) By setting the playback speed, the
playback will remain constant even if you rewind or fast forward.
Quick Guide for using ExpressScribe:
Setting up the foot pedal for use with your computer
1. Follow instructions on attached NCH Swift Sound sheet.
(See instructions for *USB* VEC footpedal in the foot pedal box)
2. Note: If you use MAC, no additional drivers are needed. If you use PC,
you will need the free, required driver download.
Loading soundfiles into memory
1. Drag a soundfile (.wav or mp3 formats) onto the main window pane.
Files should appear in the file list with their recording date, time and
2. Pressing down on the central button (PLAY) on the foot pedal, will
3. Pressing down and holding the FF button (left) will advance/cue the
recording. Lifting foot up will resume normal playback
4. Similarly, pressing down and holding the REW button (right) will
rewind/cue the recording. Lifting foot up will resume normal playback
5. Overall playback speed can be adjusted at the bottom-right corner of
the Express scribe program.
1. Click "preferences". (>>)
2. Click "playback" tab
3. Type a value into "Auto-backstep on stop" field.