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Format text with Dictate voice commands in Word

Dictate now has formatting commands with two ways to apply bold, italic, underline and other text formatting as you speak.

Dictate with formatting is now available in Word Online (in a web browser) for Microsoft 365 customers.  It’ll spread to other Word releases (for Windows, Mac etc) later.

To use voice formatting, choose Home | Dictate then click the Settings icon on the small Dictate toolbar.

Voice Commands – enables a range of voice functions beyond converting speech to text.

Auto punctuation – Word will add comma and fullstop/period automatically.  It saves you have to say those words and lets your speech flow more naturally.

Spoken Language – select your language / dialect.

Formatting command words

The formatting command words are:

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Strikethrough
  • Superscript
  • Subscript

See Dictate voice commands – the full list

There are two ways to use these formatting commands:

  • As you dictate that word.
  • After the phrase or sentence has been spoken.

When Dictate hears a formatting or voice command, it’ll show up on the toolbar.

Say a word then format command

Format a word or phrase by saying one of the formatting words, then the word/phrase and finally the same formatting command again.:

Say this….Get this …Keyboard shortcut
In the bold office space bold In the office spaceCtrl + B
Time to italic watch italic the movieTime to watch the movieCtrl + I
It is underline vital underline It is vitalCtrl + U
The price strikethrough was strikethrough The price was 
Just a little superscript head superscript Just a little headCtrl + +
Below your subscript foot subscript Below your footCtrl + =

Format … voice command

Another option is formatting words you’re already said in the current sentence or phrase.

Microsoft explains this as:  <format*> [word or phrase]

Saying  Format bold Microsoft  will bold the last time the word ‘Microsoft’ appears in the document.

Format underline office will underline the ‘office’ in the previous sentence.

How it’s really working

That’s how Dictate voice commands are supposed to work with formatting.  Hopefully it’ll improve because one of them is dreadful now.

The formatting commands spoken while dictating (e.g.  bold Office Watch bold ) mostly works OK if Dictate understands your words.

But the ‘Format …. then word or phrase’ is horribly unreliable.

We know that method is correct because we’ve been lucky enough to get it to work, on rare occasions.  More often the formatting commands appear as text or are ignored altogether.

If you’d like to try those formatting voice commands, we suggest having a lucky rabbits foot or other charm nearby.

At the moment ‘formatting as you speak’ is more reliable or just manually formatting afterwards (which is why we included the keyboard shortcuts in the above table).

All Formatting Voice Commands in Word

Say this ...
<format*> [word or phrase]
Decrease Indent
Clear all formatting
Align Left
Align Right
Align Center / Centre

Turn talk into text in Word 365 for Windows
Convert your recording into text with Word’s new Transcribe
Dictate into documents with Word 365 for Mac
Did Dictate disappear in Word?
Microphone setup and settings for Dictate and Windows 10

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