I've been having great difficulty with transcribing an individuals "tone" in my meeting notes!!

For context: Recently I've been charged with transcribing an incredibly tense litigious meeting. My transcription of this meeting will be submitted in the disclosures for an upcoming Due Process hearing. (Please note that I'm an elementary special education teacher and that transcribing is far from a specialty of mine!) I want to indicate that the opposing counsel was incredibly rude, unprofessional, and borderline attacking throughout our meeting.

I've been researching the rules of transcription and I've read that you can indicate tone at the beginning of a quotation (e.g. [angry] "I don't want to go.") Is there a way I can indicate the opposing counsel's rude/attacking tone when quoting her? Or express her tone/behavior in the surrounding body paragraphs? Here is an example from my transcription:

EA was asked to speak in a more professional manner and to refrain from raising her voice at MDT members.

EA: “I’m not raising my voice.”

B: “Well, your tone has been- [EA scoffs and visibly rolls her eyes]. Ma'am, we would appreciate if you'd stopped--"

EA: “We can agree to disagree. Document in the Prior Written Notice that the parent is requesting..."

Can I write at the beginning of her quote something like EA [brashly]: "____" or maybe [impertinently]? It's important that the hearing officer is aware of the EAs aggressive tone and behavior throughout our 2 hour meeting.

Thank you for your time and help!!

2 Answers 2


I've done legal transcription for a number of different jurisdictions and I've never seen a style guide that permits this. It's either verbatim transcription or minor edits to correct false starts, messy construction and that sort of thing.

There have been many times I've felt that tone was important to the meaning, and I feel your pain... but it's just not done in the legal sector. As an impartial third-party seeing an example of what you're attempting, I think it damages the credibility of the document if you show your value judgements in there.

Maybe you could mark for your own notes the exchanges that need elaboration or explanation, so if it comes down to argument, you have something to argue (or introduce an audio clip as evidence).


I don't do transcripts, but speaking as a layperson, what you've written already seems to communicate a strident tone on part of EA. If you can get away with [angry], you might be able to get away with [strident], but if I were you I would err on the side of JKim and defer to their expertise.

Even "EA scoffs and visibly rolls her eyes" struck me as a little over the top, though again, take my reply with a pinch of salt. What I can say with relative certainty is that if you put too much emphasis on the poor conduct of the opposing counsel, people may infer that you aren't being impartial. Remember, we all have biases, and which facts you omit can be just as important as which facts you include. How many of B's facial expressions are you documenting? Mind you, I'm not saying EA was in the right, just urging caution.

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