Files > Audio and video > Import transcripts

Import transcripts

You can import a Word document, rich text document or plain text file containing a transcription of an audio or video source. Before importing, make sure that the document or text file is formatted in one of the ways described in Prepare a Word document for import or Prepare a text file for import.

If you have purchased and exported a transcript with the automated transcription service NVivo Transcription, your completed transcripts will be in plain text format, with timestamps, and will be ready to import without any preparation necessary.

Prepare a Word document for import

You can import Word or rich text documents (.doc, .docx, .rtf) that have been formatted in the following ways:

  • Paragraphs that start with valid timestamps:
    Example of paragraphs that start with timestamps
  • Paragraphs without timestamps:

    Example of paragraphs without timestamps
  • A table that contains a valid timestamp or timespan column:

    Example of a table with timestamps in the first column and text in the second column

Prepare a text file for import

  • Tab delimited lines with a valid timestamp or timespan. Each line must contain at least one tab character—and have the same number of tab characters.

Text file showing paragraphs that start with timestamps.

  • Comma delimited lines that include a valid timestamp or timespan. Each line must contain at least one comma.

Text file with comma delimited timestamps.

Import a transcript

You can import an entire transcript or add entries to an existing transcript:

  1. Open the video or audio source that you want to import the transcript entries into.
  2. Make sure you are in edit mode.
  3. On the Edit tab, in the Transcript group, click Import Rows.
  4. In the Import from box, click the Browse button. Locate and select the file containing the transcript entries, and then click Open.
  5. From the Create one transcript row for each list, select the format of the transcript you want to import—refer to Prepare a Word document for import or Prepare a text file for import.
  6. If you are importing a table that includes an ID column, select the File includes identifier column check box.
  7. If you are importing a table or a tab/comma delimited file:
    1. If the first row contains column headers, select the File includes header row check box.
    2. In the Transcript Field Mappings box, select which fields (columns) to import and where they should go in the new transcript.
      • You must map one field to Timespan
      • You must map one field to Content
      • You can map to an existing custom field in your project or enter the name of a new field. This new field will be added to all existing audio or video transcripts.
      • Use the Fill Down box to populate any blank cells in the transcript with the contents of the preceding cell—for example, if the name of the speaker is only entered when the speaker changes, then use this option to fill in the blank speaker cells.
  8. Click OK.

NOTE  NVivo tries to detect the file encoding used in the file. If you cannot import the data correctly, try using a different file encoding.

Importing a transcript from NVivo Transcription

If your transcript was exported from NVivo Transcription, when you follow the above import steps, use these settings:

  • From the Create one transcript row for each list, select Tab Delimited Line
  • Un-tick File includes header row
  • In the Transcript Field Mappings box, map the first field to Timespan, the second to Speaker (by typing Speaker in the field), and the third to Content:

Understand timestamps and timespans

If you are importing tables or tab/comma delimited text files you must include valid timestamps or timespans:

  • A 'timestamp' indicates a point in time (second, minute, hour). For example, two minutes (00:02:00) into an interview, Jane said, "I don't agree with the issues". You can enter timestamps as hh:mm:ss or hhmmss (where hh = hours, mm = minutes, and ss = seconds)
  • A 'timespan' is the duration of time for a transcript entry. For example, Jane spoke about the new issues from the two minute point to the ten minute point ( 00:02:00.0-00:10:00.0). You can use a hyphen (-) or a forward slash (/) to indicate a timespan.

NVivo recognizes and converts short-hand timestamps—for example:



NVivo converts to*


75 seconds



1 minute and 6 seconds



92 minutes and 3 seconds



85 minutes and 2 seconds



1 hour, 45 minutes and 32 seconds



2 hours, 5 minutes and 3 seconds


* NVivo measures time up to a 10th of a second.

Export transcripts

You can export a transcript from NVivo to a Word document or text file:

  1. Click in the transcript you want to export.
  2. On the Share tab, in the Export group, click Export.
  3. From the Export options, select Transcript.
  4. (Optional) Under Save As, select the Browse button to change the name, location or format of the exported file.
  5. Select the properties and other options that you want to include in the exported file.
  6. To display the exported transcript after exporting, select the Open on Export check box.
  7. Click OK.

NOTE  To export the transcripts for multiple audio or video sources, select the sources in list view and choose to export. In the export options, you can change the file type and folder location but you cannot change the default name of the exported files.