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How to use voice dictation in Microsoft Word and Google Docs
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Tech tips

Skip the keyboard: How to dictate in Microsoft Word and Google Docs

Old science fiction shows depicting the future make a big deal out of voice control. We can ask the computer to identify a nearby planet or request a cup of tea. Decades later, we can ask questions and control devices with our voice, thanks to virtual assistants and smart home technology.

Many modern printers can print by voice command. You can use Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to scan, print, check ink levels and more. This is especially useful in a busy office setting. Tap or click here for instructions on setting up your printer with your virtual assistant.

Voice transcription makes it easy to get what’s in your head down on paper (in this case, digital paper). Even if your hands are full, you can type out what you need using just your voice. Microsoft Word and Google Docs have this capability built into their software, and we’ll show you how to take advantage of it.

Voice dictation has many uses

As a writer, voice dictation is excellent for creating outlines and drafts. It also works for note-taking or just getting your thoughts out. Perhaps you don’t like to type or have a repetitive strain injury. There’s no need for a keyboard when you can dictate whatever you need to enter text.

Voice typing is part of the accessibility features built into many operating systems and apps, including subtitles, mono audio, magnifiers, focus assist, screen readers, alt text and more. This helps people with impairments and disabilities get full use out of these programs.

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Dictation in Microsoft Word

To use dictation in Microsoft Word, you need a microphone and network connection. This works with Word for Microsoft 365 and Word for Microsoft 365 for Mac.

To use dictation in Word on your Windows PC and Mac:

  • Sign into Microsoft 365 on a mic-enabled device.
  • Go to Home > Dictate.
  • Wait for the Dictate button to turn on and start listening.
  • Start speaking clearly and at a normal pace to see text appear on the screen.

Here are some helpful voice commands:

  • Insert punctuation by saying them explicitly.
  • To insert a word that’s also punctuation, such as “comma” or “period,” say “literal comma” or “literal period.”
  • Say “New line” or “New paragraph” to start a new thought or section.
  • Say “Go to” or “Go after” plus a word to move the cursor before or after the word.
  • To correct the last thing you said, say “correct that.”
  • Say “Select that” to select the last thing you said.
  • Say “Caps” plus a word to capitalize the first letter of that word.

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Type with your voice in Google Docs

You’ll need a Chrome browser and a microphone to type with your voice in Google Docs.

Here’s how to get started dictating your words into Google Docs:

  • Open a document in Google Docs with a Chrome browser.
  • Click Tools and then Voice typing. A microphone box appears.
  • When you’re ready to speak, click the microphone.
  • Speak clearly, at a normal volume and pace.
  • When you’re done, click the microphone again.

Here are some helpful voice commands:

  • Say “Select” plus a word or phrase to select it.
  • Say the name of punctuation to add it.
  • Say “Bold” or “Italicize” to format your text.
  • Say “Highlight” plus a color to highlight text in that color.
  • Say “Decrease font size” or “Increase font size” to format your text.
  • Create lists by saying “Create bulleted list” or “Create numbered list.”
  • Say “Cut,” “Copy,” or “Paste” to edit your document.

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