There are various software packages for the transcription of spoken content. The software can be divided in Free/Open Source versus Commercial an Device based versus Web based: each of them with their own pro's and cons. Moreover, there is alway the possibility to transcribe the spoken content with just a text editor.

The advantage of transcription software however is that it offers "playing" with "typing" and that the resulting transcription is time-aligned. i.e. the start and end time of each text-fragment (a word, a couple of words, a phrase or even a paragraph) is known. This time-alignment makes it possible to search for spoken words and to generate subtitles.

Transcriptions made with an ordinary text editor (Notepad, Word, etc.) lack this time-alignment and the result is just text. Combining this text with forced alignment however will result in the same time-aligned transcriptions as with dedicated transcription software.


The "time resolution" of the transcription software depends on the human editor who selects short fragments (words or even phonemes) or rather long fragments (paragraph). Another often used method for the time-alignment is to place time-stamps in a fixed interval (e.g. each 30 sec or each 5 minutes).

Once the transcription is made (with a text editor with or without time-stamps or dedicated transcription software on an utterance level) a final foreced alignment will result in a more precise determination of the start- and end-times of each word and, if desired, the start- and end-times of the spoken phonemes.

For Oral Historians, time-aligment on the utterance level will be "enough", but modern technolgy makes it extremely simple to automatically add a higher granularity on the time-aligned transcriptions.



 Subtitle Edit is a free (open source) editor for video subtitles - a subtitle editor :)


With SE you can easily adjust a subtitle if it is out of sync with the video in several different ways.
You can also use SE for making new subtitles from scratch (do use the time-line/waveform/spectrogram) or translating subtitles.
For a list of features see below or check out the Subtitle Edit Help page.
On my blog you can download latest beta version and read about/discuss new features.


Also, you can watch a few videos about installing and using Subtitle Edit.


Dny238 has written a nice tutorial about Syncing Subtitles with Subtitle Edit :)

A Subtitle Edit dll (LibSe.dll) is available for programmers (BSD New/Simplified license). Compile it from so



Your text...