Training Word to Understand Speech

Before you can begin using Word's speech-recognition feature, you must first perform two steps:

  • Adjust your microphone so that it captures your voice as clearly as possible, and test to make sure that it is working properly.

  • Train Office to understand your unique voice, by reading a passage that Word can calibrate against its own speech database.

To begin the process, make sure that your microphone is connected properly to your computer. You might want to run Windows Sound Recorder (Start, Programs, Accessories, Entertainment, Sound Recorder) and attempt to record your voice; if you see jagged audio lines instead of a straight flat line as you speak, your computer is successfully recording your voice from your computer.


If you are using a microphone that connects via a sound card, most recent computers display red color-coding and a microphone icon to identify the correct sound input on the back of the card.

Next, choose Tools, Speech. The Welcome to Office Speech Recognition dialog box appears.

Running the Microphone Wizard

As already mentioned, the first step in getting Word ready to take your dictation and voice commands is to prepare your microphone. Click Next in the Microphone Wizard - Welcome dialog box to run the Microphone Wizard. Then click Next again. The Microphone Wizard - Adjust Volume dialog box appears (see Figure 7.1).

Figure 7.1. Adjusting the volume of your microphone through the Microphone Wizard.


The wizard requests that you read a sentence repeatedly; as you do so, it automatically adjusts your microphone volume. When volume levels consistently remain within the green area as you read the sentence, you're ready to continue. Click Next. The Test Positioning dialog box appears (see Figure 7.2).

Figure 7.2. Adjusting the positioning of your microphone.


If you're not using a headset microphone, click Finish. If you are, position the microphone as shown in the picture and speak the sentence Microsoft provides: "This papaya tastes perfect."

After a few moments, Word recites the sentence back to you. If you hear it clearly, and do not hear your breathing, you're ready to continue. Click Finish; you're ready to move on.


If you need to run the Microphone Wizard again later?perhaps to install a new microphone or readjust your existing one?here's how:

  1. Display the Language Bar.

    If the Language indicator is visible on the tray at the right of the taskbar, click on it and choose Show the Language Bar. (If you are using U.S. English, the Language indicator is a blue square with the white letters EN inside it.)

    If the Language indicator is not visible, choose Start, Control Panel, Regional and Language Options. Choose the Languages tab, click Details, and click Language Bar. Finally, in the Language Bar Settings dialog box, check Show the Language Bar on the Desktop, and click OK three times.

  2. From the Language Bar, choose Tools, Options.

  3. Click Configure Microphone.

Using the Microsoft Speech Recognition Training Wizard

Word now displays the first dialog box of the Microsoft Speech Recognition Training Wizard. Here, you train Word to recognize your voice as distinct from anyone else's. To begin, click Next. You're asked to tell Word whether you're a child or an adult, male or female.

When you're finished, click Next. Word is almost ready to have you start reading aloud. Before you do, click Sample to hear the tone of voice Word wants you to use: calm, clear, and measured (but not stilted). Then, click Next to begin training. The Wizard displays several paragraphs of text (see Figure 7.3).

Figure 7.3. Reading a sample passage.


As you read the sample passages, Word follows along, one word or clause at a time, highlighting the words you've read. If you need to pause, click Pause. If, no matter what you say, Word can't recognize a word or phrase you're saying, click Skip Word. If you find yourself skipping quite a few words, the result is likely to be less accurate speech recognition, at least at the outset. (As you'll see later, Word gives you additional opportunities to improve speech-recognition performance as you work with the feature.)

When you've finished with the text Word asks you to read, Word processes your speech data. You can then click Finish to begin using Word's speech-recognition feature.


If you're connected to the Internet, completing the wizard causes Windows to display Internet Explorer and show you a brief Flash-based movie with more information on speech recognition.


Microsoft only promises 85%?90% accuracy when you begin working with speech recognition. This may sound reasonably good, but you'll find yourself making many corrections. To improve the efficiency of working with recognition, try the following:

  • Do all your dictation first and then make your revisions all at once, afterward, to save time.

  • Perform more training. You can ask Word to provide more text for you to read, or, as you'll see later, you can train Word based on a document you've written yourself.

At this point, you've now trained Word sufficiently to begin using its speech-recognition capabilities. In the following sections, you'll learn how to take advantage of these features.


You can return to this wizard to perform more training at any time. From the Language Bar, choose Tools, Training.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word