New look Dictation coming to Word for Windows

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Microsoft is adding new features and interface to Dictation in Word for Windows.  Voice commands, auto punctuation and even a [email protected]$#$ profanity filter.

Clicking the Dictation button on the Home tab or pressing Alt + `  now opens a dialog at bottom center of the document.  It will start ‘Listening’ right away.

Tap on the microphone icon to pause dictation.

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Use the Settings icon to see some more options.

Auto punctuation

Word will add comma, fullstop etc as it thinks best.  It saves you having to speak the punctuation and is handy for more free-flowing speech. 

Auto punctuation defaults off.

Voice Commands

There are punctuation, symbol, math, currency, editing, formatting and list commands available in modern Office Dictation.

See the full searchable list of Voice Commands or the dedicated chapter in our ebook Dictation and Read Aloud in Office.

Profanity filter

This is new and not mentioned in the list of changes for the Insiders release.

Any naughty words spoken are replaced by asterix, a ‘star’ for each letter of the profane word.

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Profanity filter on with Dictation in Word 365. At least the number of letters is correct!

Microsoft decides what’s a profanity and what’s OK.  We tried stubbing a toe while dictating to discover that all the usual suspects get bleeped out – the F, C (x 2) and S words for starters.  As you can see above, a few minor words are deemed OK.

Religious names, which could be considered profane or blasphemous in some contexts, are allowed.

What is Microsoft’s thinking behind the profanity filter?  Do they really want to get into the business of deciding what words are wicked?  Perhaps it’s there for the education market? Word’s grammar and style feature already has an ‘offensive words’ test that will warn users of questionable words in the text (see ‘damn’ above). Censoring spoken words seems unnecessary, unless they are trying to protect the virtue of their cloud based ‘speech to text’ AI <g>. This feature could be an insiders trial only, that might not make it to public releases.

In the meantime, Office 365 Insiders can have fun testing the profanity filter to see what’s considered ‘naughty’ in various languages. Please let us know what you discover.

Spoken language

The list of dictation languages hasn’t changed. The same fully supported and preview language selection.

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Who gets it?

The changed Dictation first appeared in the Fast Insiders Word 365 for Windows v2101, build 13704.20000 in early January 2021.  It’ll spread to other preview releases and eventually the public versions later in the year.

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