Setting Up Speech Recognition in Word 2002

Word is fully speech-capable software, but you need to set it up first; speech recognition isn't installed until you activate it. So keep the Word (or Microsoft Office) CD handy.

On the hardware side, your computer needs a microphone, such as one of those headset microphones, which you can find at most office supply stores. That way, you can squeeze it onto your skull and talk without having to hold the microphone.

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Do not use a microphone you have to hold in your hand. That picks up too much "hand noise" and end up frustrating you more than helping.

Configuring Word to listen to you

To direct Word to add its Speech module, choose
Tools-->Speech from the menu. (This command also installs the Speech module for all of Microsoft Office, should you be so lucky.)

Word may beg for its CD-ROM. The CD is necessary to install the speech files that weren't originally installed with Word. Heed the instructions on the screen.

The final step is . . . training.

Oh, no — training!

Training is the process of teaching Word to understand your voice. You read sample text and Word listens. The more you do it, the better Word gets at understanding you. It takes a while, and it dries out your mouth, so keep a glass of water handy. But if you want this speech thing to work, you have to train.

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  • Please use your regular voice when training Word. If you use your Donald Duck or Popeye voices, you have to sound like Donald Duck or Popeye when you do your word processing. This may not have the amusing effect you desire.

  • Supposedly, the more you train Word, the easier it can understand you. Supposedly.

  • Expect training to take about an hour or so.

  • To continue training Word after the initial go-round, you need to use the Control Panel's Speech icon. Open that icon and, in the Speech Properties/Speech Recognition dialog box, click the Train Profile button, and work through the wizard.

Getting ready for dictation

With speech recognition all set up and ready to go, strap on your microphone and choose Tools-->Speech from the menu. The Speech (really called Language) toolbar appears. This is your main clue that Word is listening to your every utterance. (Some people find that their breathing produces the word and and that laughing makes Word write the word up.)

The most important button on the Speech toolbar is the Microphone button. That's what turns the microphone on and off. After all, there are times when you want to just sit and not have your comments (or breathing) appear in your document. (Up! Up! Up!) When the microphone is turned off, the toolbar shortens.

To turn the microphone back on, click the Microphone button again, and the toolbar lengthens to normal size.

Next to the Microphone button, you most likely use these items on the toolbar:

The Correction button is used when you're reviewing text. It allows you to hear which word you spoke and, optionally, correct it to something else.

The Dictation button directs Word to listen to you and type the words you say.

The Voice Command button directs Word to listen to your commands for editing or generally working in Word. In this mode, Word is obeying orders and not taking dictation.

The cartoon bubble displays the words or commands you're speaking. Or, if Word is having trouble understanding you, the cartoon bubble offers suggestions, such as Too soft or What was that? or Take the marbles out of your mouth and try again.

Dictating 101: "It was a dark and stormy night. . . ."

To actually dictate to Word — yes, to become a dictator — follow these steps:

1. Click the Microphone button on the Speech toolbar.

When the Microphone button is on, it has a black border around it.

2. Click the Dictation button.

Now you're talking!

3. Position the toothpick cursor where you want the new words to appear.

Yes, this works just as though you were typing. The exception here is that input comes from the microphone and not from the keyboard. (Even so, the keyboard is still active and you can still type text or commands.)

4. Start blabbing away.

If you've trained Word to understand your voice, text starts appearing on the screen.

As you speak, you notice a gray box around some periods as Word figures out what you said. Eventually, that box fills in with the text.

Yes, you'll probably make some mistakes. The way to fix them? More training!

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Dictation works best when you speak in complete sentences. Try not to say the words individually.

Talking punctuation and special keys

Most punctuation marks and special keys can be spoken. For example, you can say "period" to put a period at the end of a sentence. Saying "enter" starts a new line. Table 1 lists a bunch of punctuation marks you can pronounce and have Word interpret them as punctuation marks and not as the words themselves.

Table 1 Pronounceable Punctuation

Saying This

Gives You This

Asterisk

*

At sign

@

Backslash

\

Cent sign

¢

Close paren

)

Comma

,

Dash

 -- 

Dollar sign

$

Enter

New line (like pressing the Enter key)

Equal sign

=

Exclamation point

!

Greater than

>

Hyphen

-

Less than

<

New line

New line (like pressing the Enter key)

Open paren

(

Percent sign

%

Period

.

Plus sign

+

Question mark

?

Slash

/

Tab

Tab (like pressing the Tab key)

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Try keeping one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse. That way, you can use the mouse to fix things or choose options as you speak. You can use your hand on the keyboard to type characters rather than pronounce them.

Reviewing your text

If you're reviewing your text and need confirmation of a word you spoke, put the toothpick cursor on that word and click the Correction button. Word plays back the word you spoke, which you hear over the computer's speakers. A pop-up menu then appears, from which you can choose another word or phrase to correct.

You can also correct words by right-clicking on them with the mouse. When you do, a list of similar-sounding words appears at the top of the shortcut menu. To replace the word, choose a new one from the list.

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