T3: Basic Dictation Tools

Do you find yourself wanting to say your comments on a student’s paper out loud instead of typing them up?  Have a desire to quickly dash off a chatty email to a friend or relative? Like talking to yourself and need a legitimate reason to give to concerned friends or office mates?  The built-in dictation features available in Windows 7 or Mac 10.8 (Mountain Lion) enable you to speak into your computer’s microphone and the speech recognition software will turn your words into text.  In both Windows and Mac the built-in software works in most applications wherever there is a place to enter text.

A few ways to use dictation:

  • Comment on student or peer work by inserting text boxes using PDF annotation tools or word processor commenting tools.
  • Compose emails.
  • Create lists in reminder apps or word processors.
  • Keep a research log or a personal journal.
  • Draft a blog post.

Tips for using dictation successfully:

  • Speak at a slower rate than you normally do.
  • Remember to say the punctuation that you want to appear:
    “Hi comma George exclamation point I enjoyed reading this paper period here are a few of my comments” would translate to “Hi, George! I enjoyed reading this paper. Here are a few of my comments.”
  • If you briefly pause before and after punctuation or formatting commands, the software will be better able to distinguish the commands from speech you want translated to text.
  • Use a headset or other dedicated microphone if you are doing marathon sessions of dictation.
  • Practice makes perfect (or, at least, better) but you will still need to edit your finished text

Setting up the dictation functions in Windows and Mac is easy:

  • Windows 7
    Click the Start menu and then click on Help and Support. Type “speech recognition” into the search box. Click on Set up Speech Recognition and follow the directions.
  • Mac 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
    Click on the Apple Menu and then click on System Preferences. Click on Speech & Dictation under the System category. Click on the Dictation tab and follow the directions.

About Diana

Diana is the Reference & Instructional Technology Librarian at UW-Whitewater. She can introduce you to a variety of technology to help improve your teaching, learning, research, and professional development. Ask her about Zotero, tea, or technology. She is the liaison librarian to the departments of Psychology and Social Work.
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