CA tutorial: Notation

What is CA?

This tutorial

Audio & video files

Why record?

What to transcribe?

    transcript 1

    transcript 2

    transcript 3

    pros & cons

    transcript 4


What is analysis?

    analysis 1

    analysis 2



Anonymising data

Main menu

Basic transcription notation conventions

You'll see a certain variety of notation symbols in CA, but the great majority will be based on what is often called the "Jefferson system" after its developer, the late Gail Jefferson. There is a comprehensive account in Atkinson and Heritage, and more abbreviated accounts in the books by Hutchby and Wooffitt, and ten Have.

The list below is fairly representative of the most widely-used symbols.

You might also like to look at the symbols explained page in the 'Transcript' section of this tutorial. It gives a more specific account of the symbols as I used them in arriving at a reasonable transcript of the audio and video clips.

 (.)Just noticeable pause
 (.3), (2.6)Examples of timed pauses
 ↑word,↓word Onset of noticeable pitch rise or fall (can be difficult to use reliably)


word  [word
Square brackets aligned across adjacent lines denote the start of overlapping talk. Some transcribers also use "]" brackets to show where the overlap stops
 .hh, hh in-breath (note the preceding fullstop) and out-breath respectively.
 wo(h)rd (h) is a try at showing that the word has  "laughter" bubbling within it
 wor-A dash shows a sharp cut-off
 wo:rdColons show that the speaker has stretched the preceding sound.
 (words)A guess at what might have been said if unclear
 (   )Unclear talk. Some transcribers like to represent each syllable of unclear talk with a dash


The equals sign shows that there is no discernible pause between two speakers' turns or, if put between two sounds within a single speaker's turn, shows that they run together
 word, WORDUnderlined sounds are louder, capitals louder still
 ºwordº material between "degree signs" is quiet
 >word word< <word word> Inwards arrows show faster speech, outward slower

Analyst's signal of a significant line
 ((sniff))Transcriber's effort at representing something hard, or impossible, to write phonetically