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You Speak, It Types: Dictating Your Documents

After you have trained speech recognition, the process of actually using the feature to convert your spoken words into typed text is a snap. The key is to keep an eye on the Language bar, as shown in Figure 3.4. The Language bar contains several buttons that control your microphone, let you switch between dictation and voice control modes, and let you see what the speech recognition feature "thinks" you are saying.

To start dictating text, make sure the Microphone button and the Dictation button are on (shaded light blue, instead of gray). If the Microphone button is off, both the Dictation and Voice Command buttons are hidden; click the Microphone button and then click the Dictation button. If the Microphone button is on and the Voice Command button is on, click the Dictation button to change to Dictation mode. Then, click in the document where you want your text to appear and start talking. Remember to speak clearly and at a steady pace. As you speak, speech recognition displays a light blue bar in your document with little dots in it, indicating that it is currently trying to convert your spoken words into text. When it has successfully translated a bit of text, the text pops up in place of the blue bar. (It can take several seconds to convert your spoken words into text. Even though you cannot immediately see what you're saying, just keep talking.)

Switch Modes with a Spoken Command

Instead of clicking a button to change from Dictation to Voice Command mode (or vice versa), just say the word. To dictate text, say "Dictation." To enter a command, say "Voice command."

If speech recognition inserts an incorrect word, right-click the word and click the correct alternative, or click Correct in the Language bar and click the correct word. If none of the alternative words is correct, click More for additional alternatives.

Figure 3.4 On the Language bar, click Dictation to "type" or click Voice Commands to issue menu commands.

Noise Reduction

Try to keep your microphone as far away as possible from other electrical devices, including your computer. These devices emit EMF noise (electro-magnetic frequencies), which can cause a low hum that might interfere with your dictation. Special noise-reduction microphones also can help reduce background noise. You might want to stay clear of chatty officemates, as well.

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