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Speech-to-text tools

Creating text on an electronic page can be challenging for a variety of reasons, including mediocre typing skills, unfamiliarity with composing directly on a computer, accessibility issues, or a learning style that prefers verbal versus written communication. There are speech-to-text software programs available, such as Dragon, but are you aware that both PCs and Macs have their own built-in speech recognition programs that will allow you to dictate text? All you need to try Windows Speech Recognition or Apple's Dictation is a headset with a good microphone and some patience. Just as learning how to type takes time and practice, so too is there a learning curve in using a speech-to-text tool. However, with practice, you'll increase your understanding of the tool while also allowing the computer to become accustomed to your speech patterns. 

If you're working on a PC, you can use Windows Speech Recognition in Wordpad to dictate text. Speech Recognition doesn't work in Microsoft Office 2010 programs (e.g., Microsoft Word); however, you could use Wordpad to create your first draft and then paste the draft into Microsoft Word to create your final version. Office 365 allows users to dictate text in Word, Office, and PowerPoint. For more information and instructions, please see "Dictate text using Speech Recognition". If you're using Windows 10, see "How to Use Speech Recognition and Dictate Text on Windows 10" (PCMag) for additional information. If you're not sure which operating system you're using, please visit RRU's Computer Services website and look in the "Your computer details" box in the bottom right corner of the page. The first item in that section identifies your operating system.

For information on using the Dictation tool on a Mac, please see Mac Basics: Dictation lets you speak text instead of typing and OS X Mavericks: Use Dictation to create messages and documents.

Once you've created your text, you can also use a text-to-speech tool to listen to your work. There are many options available, but a free option is NaturalReader.

I hope you'll find these tools helpful in your writing process; if you have any writing-related questions, please contact the Writing Centre.

Theresa Bell
Manager, Blended Learning Success

(Originally published in Crossroads October 23, 2014; updated September 5, 2019)