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Office Does Handwriting Recognition, Too

Another new Office feature for people who hate typing is handwriting recognition. That's right, instead of pecking away on a keyboard, you can scrawl away using a special stylus or even a standard mouse and have Office convert your chicken scratch into beautiful, typed text.

This feature also provides an onscreen keyboard you can use to hunt and peck with your mouse pointer or other device. This makes an excellent alternative input device.

Installing Handwriting Recognition

Handwriting recognition is not installed during a standard installation. You must run the Office installation again and choose to add the Handwriting Recognition component. Here's what you do:

  1. Insert the first Office installation CD into your CD-ROM drive.

  2. If a My Computer window does not open showing the CD's contents, run My Computer and click the icon for your CD-ROM drive.

  3. Click or double-click the Setup icon to start the installation routine.

  4. Click the Add or Remove Features option and click Next.

  5. Click the plus sign next to Office Shared Features.

  6. Click the plus sign next to Alternative User Input.

  7. Click the icon next to Handwriting and click Run from My Computer.

  8. Click Update.

Scrawl Away!

After you install handwriting recognition, a new Write button pops up on your Language bar. Click the Write button to display a list of options for doodling onscreen. For example, click the Write button and click Lined Paper to display an onscreen notepad. If the Lined Paper window does not appear, click the Options button at the right end of the Language bar (the button with the down arrow on it), and then click Microsoft Handwriting Item. The Lined Paper button pops up in the Language bar. Click the Lined Paper button.

Click the Text button, as shown in Figure 3.5, if it is not already on. When the mouse pointer is over the notepad, the pointer becomes a pen, allowing you to write on the pad. Use your mouse or whatever handwriting input device you have to hand write your text as you write naturally—print, write in cursive, or use a combination of the two styles.

Handwriting automatically recognizes your text and inserts it into your document whenever you write enough information that can be recognized as text, run out of room onscreen, or pause for a time after writing some text. If you write some text and the application fails to recognize it, click the Recognize Now button to prod it into action.

Figure 3.5 Avoid typing altogether. Hand write your text!

The Least You Need to Know

After you set up speech recognition on your system and establish a rhythm with the dictation feature, you don't need to know much to take advantage of the speech recognition. However, when you're first starting out, keep the following in mind:

  • To get started, open Word's Tools menu and click Speech.

  • Double-click the Speaker icon in the Windows taskbar to determine whether your microphone is muted and to ensure that the volume is turned up.

  • To train speech recognition for your voice, open the Language bar's Tools menu and click Training.

  • To train speech recognition for another user, open the Language bar's Tools menu, click Options, click New, and follow the onscreen instructions.

  • To type via dictation, make sure the Microphone and Dictation buttons on the Language bar are both active (shaded light blue instead of gray).

  • To change from Dictation to Command mode, click Voice Command in the Language bar.

  • After you install handwriting recognition, you can access its features via the Write button on the Language bar.

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