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Help centerMake sense of your dataArticle

Create notes and upload data

Last updated21 September 2023
Read time7 min

In Dovetail, research data is stored in ‘notes’. Notes can contain text, images, audio, video, tables, a transcript from an audio or video file, and more. Notes are intentionally flexible to support a wide variety of research methodologies and data formats including:

  • Raw notes taken during a customer interview.

  • Video or audio from interviews, usability test, sales call, or product demo.

  • Survey responses or qualitative customer feedback imported via a spreadsheet.

  • Tweets imported via our Zapier integration.

By housing data in notes, you can capture key moments by highlighting and tagging this content. For example, for any video or audio content uploaded into a note can be transcribed by an advanced AI-powered speech engine. From there, you can create highlights to turn your raw recording into tagged, searchable audio and video clips.

Table of contents

Add a note to a project

There are a couple of ways to create and add notes to a project in Dovetail when starting a new project or adding data to an existing project. To do this, open the project and select the Note view. In this view, you can:

  • New note: Select New note. This will open a new page for you to start typing live notes or import your data. Or;

  • Quick import: Select Import to go straight to selecting and importing data into notes from your device, Google Drive, Zoom or OneDrive. If you select more than 1 video, audio or PDF document, these will be split into and housed within individual notes in the project.

Add files to notes

Upload video and audio files to your notes by pressing + in the toolbar, where you can select to import a local file, or one from Google Drive, OneDrive, or Zoom. You can also drag and drop your file directly onto the note!

Transcribe video and audio files

Dovetail’s built-in transcription provides a powerful way to share stories about your research and allows you to develop a repository of searchable audio and video clips.

Once you have added a video or audio file to your note, you can start generating a transcript. To do this, select Begin under the video/audio player, configure your desired settings under Language and Custom vocabulary, and press Start transcription.

You can transcribe conversations in 41 languages and receive a full a native-language transcript back. Please find a full list of supported languages below.

Supported languages for transcription

Afrikaans, Arabic (Gulf), Arabic (Modern Standard), Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (US), Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi (Indian), Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Automatically detect language

By selecting Auto-detect as your transcription language, Dovetail will automatically detect what language is being spoken, and generate a transcription using that detected language.

Auto-detect can support multiple languages and accents that are spoken the same file, so you won't have to worry about sections of the transcript being inaccurate if speakers are using multiple languages.

Unfortunately, Dovetail cannot automatically detect every language that we currently support at this time. If the spoken language cannot be detected, a transcript will still be generated, however, it will not be accurate.

Please refer to the list of unsupported languages below before using auto-detect.

Unsupported languages for automatic detection

Bulgarian, Catalan, Czech, Greek, Finnish, Croatian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, and Vietnamese.

Automatically transcribe files

Video and audio files uploaded by selecting Import have the option to be automatically transcribed by enabling the toggle before selecting your files.

Once enabled, selected files will be automatically transcribed using auto-detect.

Set up custom vocabulary for transcription

To improve the accuracy of transcripts you can submit a list of custom words or phrases that are not found in a dictionary (for example company names or industry jargon) before starting a transcription.

Add new custom words and phrases when transcribing videos. These will automatically be saved and used for future transcriptions within the project.

To avoid having to type out the terms every time before a transcription, you can save a list of up to 100 words or phrases within an individual project, or workspace admins can create a global list of terms within workspace settings, for use in all projects.

Import your own transcript

For when you need human-level accuracy with your transcripts, or to analyze conversations in a language that we don't yet support – we've also added the option to bring your own transcript (in the form of a caption file).

We support importing any WebVTT (Web Video Text Tracks) caption file. When you upload a .vtt caption file, we'll use the caption timestamps to sync with playback with your video or audio file.

To import your own transcript, click ••• (Actions) below a video or audio file > Click Upload transcript > Select a compatible .vtt file.

Please note

  • When importing .vtt files the speaker names must be formatted as <v NAME > in order for Dovetail to correctly extract the speaker name.

  • If you have a non-compatible .srt caption file, you can convert this to a compatible .vtt file using Rev's free caption converter. This converter provides AI-level accuracy.

  • For human-level accuracy, we recommend using's paid captioning services who are able to supply a compatible .vtt file for use in Dovetail once one of their skilled transcriptionists finish your job. Please ensure the Output File Format selected is WebVTT (.vtt) prior to payment on their service.

Import documents

Upload files from your device into notes within a project by selecting blank New note > Upload a file or Import data > Browse.

Once imported, a preview of your file will appear, allowing you to highlight, tag, comment and search text content for the following file types:

  • PDFs (.pdf)

  • Microsoft Word documents (.docx)

  • Microsoft Powerpoint files (.pptx)

  • Keynote presentations (.key)

  • Apple Pages (.pages)

Note: preview won't be available for other filetypes, e.g. zip files

You can change the preview within your note to display: Full document, Single page or Card. To access these options, click on the "More" button in the preview window.

Import a CSV spreadsheet

You can create multiple notes at once from a single spreadsheet. This is handy for importing data like NPS feedback, survey responses, and customer feedback to bring in to Dovetail.

The file should be UTF-8 encoded Comma Separated Value (CSV) file with a header row and have at least 1 column each for:

  • Content – required, text format (300,000 character limit). This becomes the body of the note, which you can later highlight and tag.

  • Created date – must be in ISO 8601 date format or YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM

  • Title – text format (200 character limit)

During import, you will need to map columns from your spreadsheet to how it will be presented in your notes. For example, if you have a column for survey answers, you can add them to the body of your note by mapping this to the option ‘Content’.

If your spreadsheet contains a date column, Dovetail might have already detected it, and it’ll be green.

Any fields that have been added to notes will also be available as fields to import into.

Automatic sentiment analysis for CSV import

To speed up your work, you can leverage automatic sentiment analysis when importing a CSV document into notes.

To do this, toggle Run sentiment analysis on import and choose which sentiment analysis method you'd like to use.

  • General sentiment looks for any words that have strong positive or negative sentiment.

  • Targeted sentiment looks for strong positive or negative sentiment expressed in relation to something specific.

Sentiment analysis is conducted on the 'Content' column, and will be run on the whole note. Any sentences that are identified as having strong sentiments will be highlighted and tagged as either 'Positive' or 'Negative'.

Import project from another workspace

Users with contributor access have the ability to import projects that have been exported from another workspace at any time.

To understand how to export projects, please visit Download project data →

When you're ready to import your project, navigate to Projects > Create new > Project from files > Import an existing project.

Once you’ve selected your file, Dovetail handles importing it for you. And based on your notification preferences, you’ll be alerted when the import is finished.

Import data with integrations

Bring in video, audio and PDF files into notes using our first-party integrations - Zoom, OneDrive and Google Drive. Find more information below on how to set these up for your account and start importing files:

  • Zoom - for Zoom cloud recordings

  • Google Drive - for Google Meet recordings, PDF, or Google cloud documents (sheet, slide or drawing)

  • OneDrive - for Microsoft Teams cloud recordings, PDF, Word documents, Excel sheets and Powerpoints.

  • Zapier - for connecting other apps like Slack, Intercom, and Google Forms to your Dovetail account


How do I import spreadsheet data into a specific group in a note board?

Groups and field values are now the same, so if you have a particular group you'd like to import data into, ensure that you set the correct field value for the data you're importing.

For instance, let's say you've grouped your view by Feedback type with values NPSIn app feedback, and Community chat. If you want to import some NPS feedback to the NPS column, you need to ensure that your csv data has a column that says "NPS." When importing the CSV, you need to match the Feedback type field with that column.

The uncategorized column is where content will appear when it doesn't have a field value associated with the field used in the Group by setting in the top right of the view. If we removed this, it would be challenging for you to figure out where notes (that don't have a field value assigned) have 'disappeared.'

How long should file import and transcription take?

Your recording will be uploaded into a note and processed to ensure fast playback. The amount of time this takes depends on the length of the recording. In general, processing takes about 30% of the length of the file; e.g. a 60 minute recording will take approximately 20 minutes to process and transcribe.

You can close the note and continue using other parts of Dovetail while your file is uploading. You can safely leave Dovetail entirely (e.g. close the browser window or turn off your computer) while it’s processing and being transcribed, and come back later as well.

What video and audio formats do you support?

Dovetail supports the following video formats: mp4, mov, mpeg, avi, and audio formats: mp3, m4a, and wav.

How do I check the number of transcription hours available for our workspace?

All Dovetail pricing plans include a number of hours that are used monthly.

You can view data on your used / available transcription minutes at the transcription page in settings.

When you approach your limit, we will complete the job that will push you into exceeding your limit. For example, if you have 1 minute left and transcribe a 30-minute video, it will be processed. All subsequent jobs will not.

Your transcription minutes reset on a rolling basis every 30 days from when your workspace was created, and you can see the days remaining until the next reset.

I can’t seem to get my CSV import to work! Is there anything I can do to troubleshoot this?

Yes! Before importing your CSV, review the below requirements to ensure a smooth import process.

  • Formatting like headings, bold, italics, lists, tables, and images are not supported when importing from a CSV. They may cause a failure.

  • The maximum length for notes is 300,000 characters. No single cell in your CSV file should exceed this limit. This will cause a failure.

  • Dovetail will interpret two newline characters as separate paragraphs.

  • Your file needs to be encoded as UTF-8 (this is usually the default).

  • Your CSV file should end in a .csv file extension.

I'm experiencing processing errors for my video/audio file

It is possible to experience a processing error when uploading a video or audio file into Dovetail. This may be due to the file being an unsupported file type or there's a corruption in the file.

To troubleshoot this, you may be able to get the file to process successfully by re-exporting and saving a new copy the file using QuickTime or VLC player. This file must be into one of our supported file formats for video and audio files.

Dovetail supports video formats - mp4, mov, mpeg, avi - and audio formats - mp3, m4a, wav.

Do you have any file size limits for upload?

Yes, please view our technical limits for files here.

I'm not able to highlight and tag my note. How can I fix this?

There may be a few reasons for this!

  1. Your note may be locked from editing. The ability to edit a note can be toggled on/off in the Actions (•••) menu in the top right corner of the note page.

  2. You may not have the right workspace role. Reach out to your workspace's admin to update your access to Manager or Contributor to edit project work in the workspace.

  3. You may not have the right project access to edit the project. Check the project's Share settings to review your access and reach out to someone with Full access to update your access.

Can I download a note/transcript from my project?

Yes! Check out Download project data with information on how to do this.

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Edit notes and transcripts

Edit notes and transcripts

Edit and update how notes are formatted in your project.

Last updated23 August 2023
Read time3 min

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