Distinguish between Text and Commands in NaturallySpeaking - dummies

Distinguish between Text and Commands in NaturallySpeaking

By Stephanie Diamond

As you can see in the figure, NaturallySpeaking lets you mix dictation (words that get converted into text) and commands (instructions to the computer). You don’t have to press or click anything to tell NaturallySpeaking, “Here comes a command; don’t write this.” You just say the command.


Sometimes, however, you may not get what you expect. For instance, “Cap” is a command to capitalize the upcoming word. You may, however, dictate a sentence like, “We want to cap expenditures for this year” and see it come out like this: “We want to Expenditures for this year.”

Use pauses to control the interpretation. Most commands involve two or more words. NaturallySpeaking must hear them together, as a phrase, to interpret them as a command. To make sure NaturallySpeaking interprets a phrase as text instead of a command, pause between two or more of the words.

To have NaturallySpeaking interpret “cap” as text, for instance, pause between “cap” and the word it operates on, like “expenditure.” For a two- or three-word phrase that sounds like a command (like “Caps On”), pause between the words to break up the phrase. (“They put their caps . . . on their heads.”)

You also need to pause before commands that affect what you just said, as “Scratch That” does. If you don’t pause, NaturallySpeaking will lump Scratch with the preceding word and consider it all as text. Fortunately, such a pause is natural.

Most people aren’t that careful. They speak the phrase and then say, “Oh, rats” (silently, to themselves, or else NaturallySpeaking will dutifully type that out). Instead of “Oh, rats,” when you see the error, say, “Scratch That” to remove the blooper. Then repeat the phrase with the pauses adjusted. Don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It becomes quite natural.

You can adjust the amount of time that NaturallySpeaking considers to be a sufficient pause.

Pausing doesn’t help with punctuation and numbers that you want spelled out. For instance, you can’t dictate, “He typed a comma and continued.” You get the comma symbol, not the word. For those problems, use the Vocabulary Editor to add the written word comma with a new spoken form (for example, “word comma”). Then you can say, “He typed a word comma and continued.”

Although using pauses is the most reliable way to distinguish between text and command, NaturallySpeaking offers an alternative solution. To force your utterance to be taken as text, hold down the Shift key while you speak. To force it to be taken as a command, hold down the Ctrl key.

This alternative doesn’t work for so-called “dictation commands” that have to do with capitalization, tabs, and line or paragraph breaks, but it does work for many other commands, such as formatting commands.