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Research Guides@Tufts

MyTERN Podcast Project

Getting started in Audacity

Understanding the difference between the various files needed to create a podcast will help ensure your project runs smoothly during editing.

    • Project File - Project files are usually a small (kb or mb in size) file that saves information about how your organizing your audio in a timeline, transitions, effects, project settings and other editing parameters.  Audacity project files end with the extension ".aup3"
    • Media File - Media files are the raw materials you are creating your audio project with, e.g., field recordings, interviews, voice overs.  

When you add your media files into Audacity, your media files are linked to the project file.  The project files knows where your media files are saved and references them every time you open the project.  If you move your media files midway through the editing process you will likely open your project to find that all your media is offline.  

To successfully share your editing project with a teammate, they must have access to all the media files on their computer as well as the project file.  It will also require they manually show the application where these files are located on their machine.  


Applications like Garageband will your duplicate media and wrap it inside the project file.  This takes up more space on your computer but when sharing your edit with a team member, you can simply share the project file and it will contain all the media files as well.  

Images Directions
Open Audacity
Navigate to Audio Setup > Audio Settings and set your Project Sample rate to 48000Hz

Save your project by navigating to File > Save Project As.

Make sure to save your project file in a location you can easily locate.

Drag your media files into Audacity.  


Image Instruction
Selection tool - allows you to select and move the audio file
Envelope tool - allows you to adjust the volume of the audio in a specific location
Zoom in and zoom out help you see waveforms or the project more clearly
Zoom in to selection and zoom to fit project help more quickly move you to specific views
Loop allows you to enable playing a selected section of audio on repeat


Types of tracks

Mono track - Mono tracks have only one signal sent to all speakers and are usually recorded with one microphone.

Stereo track - Stereo tracks have two signals with one signal sent to the left speaker and the other signal sent to the right speaker.  Usually stereo tracks are used with environmental recordings and music where having different sounds coming from the speakers enhances the experience of listening.

Label track - A label track allows you to add notes on specific sections of your audio file within Audacity, e.g. you could mark when someone starts talking about a particular theme or when there is audio that was recorded poorly.

Creating new tracks

Image Instruction
Navigate to Tracks > Add new.  Select the track you want to add.


Adding labels to a Label Track

Image Instruction
Using the Selection Tool, highlight the region of the track you wish to label.
Navigate to Edit>Labels>Add Label at Selection


Image Instructions
  Using the Selection Tool mark the place you want to make an edit or split 

Navigate to Edit > Audio Clips > Split.  This will separate the file into two distinct clips.

If you want to extend or shorten the clip, hover your mouse over the beginning or

end of the clip and wait for the cursor to turn into two arrows.

Then click and drag to extend or shorten.


Organizing your project

Once you've added your audio files into your project it can be helpful to organize your project.  This can involve adding labels, renaming tracks and placing the tracks in an order that facilitates editing. In the example project below I've organized the tracks in the following order:

  1. Original audio - Person A
  2. Original audio - Person B
  3. Original audio - Person C
  4. Label Track
  5. Edited audio - Person A
  6. Edited audio - Person B
  7. Edited audio - Person C
  8. Music

Original audio tracks

It is important that you do not edit the Original Audio Tracks.  If you delete or alter these tracks, the conversation will fall out of sync.  You should label these tracks and designate one track per person, for example Kim is always on track 1, Joanna is always on track 2, Hilary is always on track 3.


Label track

The label track allows you to add notes into audacity to make finding audio segments easier, for example finding room tone, introductions, good takes or areas you don't want to use. 


Edited audio

These tracks are where you can start adjusting the timing of certain parts of the conversation, for example if you want to remove a specific moment or move a specific segment before another. 

  • To move audio onto these tracks you can select the audio using the Selection Tool by clicking and dragging.  Once highlighted, go to Edit > Copy. Then activate the Edited audio track you want the segment on and go to Edit > Paste. 
  • If you want to keep an entire conversation in sync, make sure you select, copy and paste all the tracks together.


To have an audio transcription generated, you can use your Tufts credentials to access Microsoft 360's transcription tool embedded within Microsoft word. Since this is automated it is likely you will need to review and edit the transcription that is generated for time stamps, grammar and general errors.

Once you have created a transcript of your recording, it can be a tool to assist you complete an ear edit. Learn more about what an ear edit is, along with how and to do one, by reading NPR's How to Edit with Your Ears:

Strategies for creating structure

There are a number of strategies for organizing and structuring your podcast in the editing stage.  A few strategies you might consider are:

  • Transcribe your audio files with major themes or word for word and include time stamps.  You can use a transcription application to help with this if you have a lot of files but don't skip listening to all your raw audio!  Once you have a transcript you can start editing on paper, scratching out sections that are redundant and even cutting/pasting elements into other sections.
  • Create notes or comments within the editing application.  Some editing applications like Audacity and Audition allow you to add comments onto audio tracks.  This can help with visualizing where content is located in an audio file.
  • Use a three act structure.  While it's not necessary to follow a three act structure, if you are struggling with finding a way to organize your material consider setting up the problem, sharing confrontations or obstacles and then ending with the resolution. 
  • Use music to help cue your audience that you are switching from one subject or segment to another.
  • Record narration to help connect a segment that is missing larger context.

In Action

The below worksheet contains both the unedited and edited transcript of an excerpt from On Being with Krista Tippett - Naomi Shihab Nye. Underline the parts of the unedited transcript that you would cut and consider how you decided which sections to cut. Then read through the edited transript and compare your edits to those of the editors. Why do you think the editors chose to cut certain sections?