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Dictation Software: a trial and a comparison

Hurray, I have wrists! (In case you haven’t been following along, I broke both my wrists when I slipped on some snow back in mid-December.) I got my casts off last week and now I am working on getting my wrists back in shape. Physical therapy is literally a pain, but I know that without it I won’t be able to type, I won’t be able to do anything with my wrists. So while typing is still rather painful for me, I am trying out some dictation software. I’ve been hearing a lot about people using dictation software to write faster. And so with my wrists the way they are, I thought maybe I should give this a try.

There are a number of different programs that you can use to dictate your work. There is, of course, Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is the most common and well known dictation software in use. I know a lot of authors who completely swear by this software. They use it all the time and love it to little bits. The software costs $200 for the individual version, and $500 for the professional version. That’s a pretty hefty price point–and there is no free trial for this software. As I hope not to have to continue to dictate my work, I could not see spending that much money on something that I may only be using for a very short time.

So I am looking into two free programs that are available to anyone with a copy of Microsoft Word or access to Google Docs. That would include. I imagine, just about everyone. So here are two examples of my beginning dictation. I started writing this blog with Microsoft Word dictate. And this is what I got:

This is a test of the dictation software that comes with Microsoft Word. I am not used to using dictation software and so I am testing out various uh types of software various uh programs. I can’t say that I am extremely impressed by the Microsoft Word 365 dictation software because it can’t even get the word wrist. It’s beginning to do better now that I am talking more, but when I began writing this blog (with the sentence “With my newly healed wrists”) the only words that it gave me for the word “wrist” were “breast” and “risk”, so dictation certainly gives lots of leeway for amusing mistakes.

The other problem with dictating is that you have to get used to actually saying your punctuation. I imagine that it will take a great deal of practice to get used to doing this. On the other hand dictating is a lot easier on my broken wrists or currently mending risks. It will also take a great deal of editing to get this document or blog post into any sort of shape to actually publish. However, the software is free, it comes with Microsoft 365 and any other Microsoft Office program past 2017. There is also a Google Docs free dictation software which I’m going to switch to now.

The Google Docs dictation software can be found of Google Docs under the “Tools” menu –>“voice typing.” This is what I got when I tried writing this blog in Google Docs:

This is a Blog on voice typing. I am currently trying out the Google voice typing program. I’m comparing the Google voice typing program, because it is free for all to use and could possibly be something very useful for a lot of writers because it doesn’t matter what computer you are using to write.  paragraph this does not seem to put in new paragraphs it also didn’t capitalize the first word of this sentence for some reason.

It’s interesting that the default language in my Google Docs is english.uk. I’m not sure if that’s because I am in Europe or why. the hardest thing about  dictating my work is that I have to put in all of the punctuation marks. it’s really not something that comes naturally. and, yes, it really does not capitalize the first of every sentence. New line the problem with this sort of software is that you have to speak your punctuation. as you can see, it doesn’t always work very well. I keep trying to add a line to create a new paragraph, and it keeps ignoring the fact that I keep trying this.

 I just hit the enter button so that I could actually get a new paragraph. the thing is that with my broken wrists,  it’s not easy to type for an extended period of time so I am torn between wanting to dictate so as to write more easily and pain-free, and to actually use my hands to type so that my wrist gets stronger. 

this is a new paragraph. Sometimes it works to say “new paragraph”, and sometimes it doesn’t.On the other hand, when I said “new line” it jumped to the next line and then jumped back to continue typing. so that’s a little frustrating. and sometimes this doesn’t capitalize the first of the sentence. I’m not quite sure why that is because sometimes it does. so I’m going to go with the idea that the Microsoft dictation software is much better than the Google  document dictation software. it also works faster. 

As you can see, Microsoft Word is much better at taking dictation than Google Docs (I have switched back to Word and am dictating this right now). I would imagine that writing by dictation would be great for someone who is an oral (sic aural) learner. Having raised someone who is that way, I’m certain that my child would have loved to be able to study and write simply by speaking. They might very well still be that way, but now have gotten so proficient and fast at typing that it would probably end up slowing them down. I’ll have to ask them and see if they can test this out to see if this works well for them. I , however, am a kinesthetic learner. I work and learn best when I am actually moving. I need to physically write either by hand or typing in order to fully grasp what I’m writing, fully grasp what I’m learning. When I was in college I studied by rewriting all of my notes. I need to be able to move and actually do something physical in order to learn and comprehend. So writing by dictation, would be much more difficult for someone like me who needs to actually physically write. If you are a visual type of learner, then this might be extremely useful for you, so long as you can watch the words on your screen as they appear.

There are many different websites where you can take a quick test to learn what sort of learner you are. I’ve always known that I was a kinesthetic learner, and taking a couple of these tests only confirmed that. If you are unsure what type of learner you are I highly recommend searching for a test that will tell you. it’s extremely useful information to have. new paragraph so, for the next week, hopefully no more than two, I will do my best to start writing through dictation. When my wrists are painful it’s the easiest way to do it. On the other hand, I do need to build up the muscles in my wrists, and so I’ll try typing for short periods of time and working with my physical therapist. new paragraph so what type of learner are you? Have you tried using dictation software? If so please share your experiences. And just for fun, I am not editing this document fully so that you can see just how the software does. You will please excuse all typos, all punctuation mistakes, and perhaps gain some amusement from the quirks of Microsoft’s dictation software.

Merry
 

Meredith Bond is an award-winning author of a series of traditionally published Regency romances and indie-published paranormal romances. Known for her characters “who slip readily into one’s heart,” Meredith’s heart belongs to her husband and two children. Meredith’s second favorite pastime is teaching others to write.

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