Common Dictation Problems in NaturallySpeaking

By Stephanie Diamond

Following are some common problems users experience with dictation in NaturallySpeaking. You can fix many of them by using the Correction menu box, or by word or vocabulary training:

  • Sound-alike words: When two words normally sound exactly alike, even human speakers make mistakes. The way that humans distinguish one word from the other is by the context. That’s how NaturallySpeaking works, too.

    If it didn’t work that way, you couldn’t say a sentence like “It was too far for two people to go to purchase two tickets” and have any hope that NaturallySpeaking would get it correct. Vocabulary training and using the Correction menu box will alleviate this problem to some degree.

  • Commands as text: Sometimes, if you say, “Go To End of Line,” NaturallySpeaking will type those words instead of performing the command. One solution that may work is to pause very slightly before speaking those words.

    Another solution is word training. A quick fix is to hold down the Ctrl key while speaking a command, which forces NaturallySpeaking to interpret your utterance as a command.

  • Text as commands: Sometimes you want to actually type something like “go to end of line,” but NaturallySpeaking instead interprets your utterance as a command. Avoid pausing before and after that phrase, if you can. A quick fix is to hold down the Shift key while dictating, which forces NaturallySpeaking to interpret speech as text.

  • Extra words: If NaturallySpeaking gives you small, extra words in your text, it may be interpreting microphone noises as words. Make sure the microphone isn’t in front of your mouth, or else it will pick up tiny puffs of breath and interpret them as words. (Also, if applicable, make sure the microphone cover isn’t brushing against your beard or moustache.)

  • Acronyms and other non-words: Contemporary English uses a lot of acronyms, abbreviations, initials, and other unconventional words. You can add these terms to NaturallySpeaking by using the Vocabulary Editor.

    You can also add them by speaking them and then correcting the NaturallySpeaking interpretation with the “spell window.” The NaturallySpeaking vocabulary already includes many common abbreviations. If NaturallySpeaking thinks it hears initials, and those initials aren’t otherwise in its vocabulary, it capitalizes them and puts a period after each letter.

  • E-mail addresses: If you use a particular e-mail or web address a lot, you can add it to your vocabulary like other “non-words.” Otherwise, you can say an e-mail address, such as <person>, much like you would in conversation. To make sure everything is lowercase, say, “No Caps On,” then say the e-mail address, and then say, “No Caps Off.”

    For the address itself (, for instance), say, <person> at company dot com.” If you are getting spaces within the name in the e-mail address, you can also bring up the Spell window and add it there.

  • Web addresses: Use the “No Caps On” and “No Caps Off” commands as suggested in the preceding bullet to prevent capitalization. Speak a web address in the form, “w w w dot <company> dot com.”

    For a full address (such as say, “h t t p w w w dot <company> dot com,” saying nothing about the colon or slashes. NaturallySpeaking adds the colon and slashes and recognizes the terms com, gov, mil, net, org, and sys just as you would normally say them. If you prefer, you can verbally spell out the letters in those terms.