What is the Jefferson Transcription System?

Conversation analysts and many discourse analysts employ the Jefferson system of transcription notation. This is because in conversation analysis the transcripts are designed not only to capture what was said, but also the way in which it is said. Therefore the transcripts provide a detailed version of the complex nature of interaction.

Useful references for Jefferson transcription include:

  • Jefferson, G. (2004). Glossary of transcript symbols with an introduction. In G. H. Lerner (Ed). Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation. (pp: 13-31). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Hepburn, A. and Bolden, G. B. (2013). Transcription. In Sidnell, J. & Stivers, T. (Eds). Blackwell Handbook of Conversation Analysis (pp 57-76). Oxford: Blackwell.

There are many symbols used in the Jefferson transcription system and we provide you with some of the most common below:

Transcription notation:

(.)  A full stop inside brackets denotes a micro pause, a notable pause but of no significant length.

(0.2) A number inside brackets denotes a timed pause. This is a pause long enough to time and subsequently show in transcription.

[  Square brackets denote a point where overlapping speech occurs.

> < Arrows surrounding talk like these show that the pace of the speech has quickened

< >  Arrows in this direction show that the pace of the speech has slowed down

(  ) Where there is space between brackets denotes that the words spoken here were too unclear to transcribe

((  )) Where double brackets appear with a description inserted denotes some contextual information where no symbol of representation was available.

Under When a word or part of a word is underlines it denotes a raise in volume or emphasis

↑ When an upward arrow appears it means there is a rise in intonation

↓ When a downward arrow appears it means there is a drop in intonation

→  An arrow like this denotes a particular sentence of interest to the analyst

CAPITALS  where capital letters appear it denotes that something was said loudly or even shouted

Hum(h)our  When a bracketed ‘h’ appears it means that there was laughter within the talk

=  The equal sign represents latched speech, a continuation of talk

:: Colons appear to represent elongated speech, a stretched sound

Share this page: