Question: What are the 3 best speech recognition tools for authors?



Adding a speech recognition tool to your writing toolbox can be beneficial for many reasons. Also known as “dictation software”, this technology converts spoken words into digital text. Most people can talk faster than they type – up to 3x faster – so using dictation software can greatly increase your productivity. It can also help when recording ideas on the go, facing writer’s block, or needing to give your fingers and wrists a break from typing.Dictation software can make writers up to 3x more productive!

There are many dictation platforms and apps available to users. When comparing the more popular options side-by-side, there are differences in features, operating system requirements, transcription accuracy, and cost, so it’s important to understand your dictation needs and budget before committing to any particular platform.

The 3 Most Popular FREE Dictation Platforms

Many writers are working with a small budget for their book project, or even a non-existent one. If free is a top priority for you, here are the 3 most popular platforms that don’t require a monetary investment:

Windows Speech Recognition

If you use a PC with a newer version of Windows, you can access the Speech Recognition software that comes preinstalled. This tool allows users to start programs, open menus, and dictate text into documents such as Microsoft Word and emails, all with their voice. Features include preselected voice commands, making corrections as you go, and creating a custom dictionary. It can take some time to “train” the software to learn your voice, but is a good option for beginners.

Best for: Windows users that primarily use their PC for writing.

Authors can dictate their books using apps like Apple Dictation to record on the go.Apple Dictation

Apple Dictation comes preinstalled on Mac computers and is also accessible on Apple devices such as iPhones and iPads. It works best for writers when used with Apple’s word processing software, Pages. The desktop tool offers features similar to the Windows tool, but reviews indicate it’s not as accurate with its transcriptions. If needing to capture quick thoughts or ideas on the go, users can select the Notes app on their iPhones and tap the microphone icon to dictate.

Best for: Mac users that primarily use their computer for writing.

Google Docs Voice Typing           

If you have a Google account and already use Google Docs for writing or for work, this may be a great option for you. Just simply open a document in Google Docs and select Tools >Voice typing. You’ll need to make sure Google Docs can access your microphone, and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the preselected voice commands for formatting and editing. Both Mac and PC users can access Google Docs Voice Typing when using a Chrome browser. Google offers a mobile app as well, Gboard, which is another good on-the-go option.

Best for: Writers that already use Google Docs.

Popular PAID Dictation Platforms

If you’ve tried one or more of the free options listed above and are ready to invest in a platform with more customization features and transcription accuracy, the suite of Nuance Dragon products are a popular option for writers. The software includes Dragon’s Deep Learning Technology that adapts to your voice along with faster dictation and up to 99% accuracy.

The suite of Dragon products can be used when more advanced dictation features are needed.Dragon Anywhere

This application is the best option for mobile use. It includes the same technology that the upgraded Dragon products offer. At $14.99 per month after a free 1-week trial, it’s a cost effective way to try out Dragon’s technology without investing in the more expensive desktop offerings.

Best for: Writers that have an iOS or Android device and want a high quality on-the-go option.           

Dragon Home

If you prefer to have a quality solution with expanded features for your home PC, you might want to consider Dragon Home. In addition to dictation in word processing platforms, Dragon home allows users to dictate in blogs, emails, web browsers, and social media. Dragon is currently offering 12 months free of Dragon Anywhere with the $200 Dragon Home purchase. Note: Dragon Home is not compatible with Mac computers.

Best for: Writers that primarily use their PC for writing and want advanced features and accuracy.

There are other paid platforms available online, but most of them work best for short form dictation or professional use, not for writers working on a novel or nonfiction book. If you do plan to use a speech recognition and dictation platform long term, you should also consider investing in a quality accessory microphone that connects to your computer. The better the audio quality, the more accurate your transcriptions will be and the easier it will be to “train” the software.

Writing and finishing a book is HARD. The more tools and assets you can use to assist in the process, the more you can improve your chances of finishing the book. Dictation software is a great way to speed up the process while giving your creative mind a new way to digitize your narrative.

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