18 Speech Input to Create Documents

We have looked at most aspects of a document – templates, metadata, storing and retrieving – and it is worth saying something about creating them using tools other than keyboards. You can use a stylus to write in many tablet-based apps although not all will convert that writing to editable text, saving it instead as a picture. There are also pens like Livescribe’s Smart Pen that record your analog writing as a digital file.

Speech recognition is another way to create your documents. Lawyers have been using dictation tools for decades if not centuries. You can choose to use a product like Nuance’s Dragon Naturally Speaking & Dictate or its many portable apps and speak directly to your computer yourself. You can use digital recorders – like the old dictation tape machines – and convert those recordings using a speech recognition tool like Dragon NaturallySpeaking without actually talking to the machine.

The trick to using speech recognition is the training. Even Windows operating systems now have speech recognition built-in, although designed from the perspective of making the computer more accessible, not for creating documents. You need to spend time helping the software understand how you speak so that, when you are speaking to it, it converts the sounds to the correct words. Fortunately, the process is much shorter than it was even 10 years ago and you can start using speech recognition quickly once you’ve decided to give it a try.

It is not foolproof. Speech recognition will always return a word and you will need to proof a document to ensure that, like the auto-suggestions on your phone’s keyboard, they are the words you meant to include. But if it fits into the way you want to practice, it can be a powerful productivity tool in document creation and editing.

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