Law Practice Magazine
ABA TECHSHOW TECHNOLOGY TIPS ISSUE
With the vast improvements in voice recognition technology, lawyers are increasingly recognizing its advantages. Whether you are thinking about embracing the trend or have already done so, these tips will help you get the most out of Dragon NaturallySpeaking—one of the most popular and accurate voice recognition software products on the market.
WATCH THOSE SLURS! Learning How to Speak Many users new to speech recognition software think that they must speak one word at a time. Others believe that yelling at the computer will help the program recognize speech better. Wrong! The best thing you can do is speak continuously and enunciate. Do not mumble or slur your words. You can actually improve accuracy by speaking in long phrases or sentences because these provide more context, which helps the program recognize your speech patterns. Speaking slowly, in short phrases or single words, is likely to result in more recognition errors.
Automatically Formatting Text In Dragon you can set various options to help you work more efficiently. Go to Tools-Options-Formatting to automatically format things like phone numbers, Web addresses, dates and more, which saves valuable time over manual formatting.
Capitalizing Many users struggle with the proper commands for doing simple tasks like capitalizing. Here are quick tips for formatting words in both title case and all capitals.
• Say “Caps On” or “Caps Off” to start or stop typing words with initial capitals.
• Say “All Caps On” or “All Caps Off” to start or stop typing words in all uppercase.
• Alternatively, say “Select” along with the word you wish to change, and to make it title case, say “Cap That.” To format it all uppercase, say “All Caps That.” You can also use “Format That Caps,” “Format That Uppercase” and “Format That Lowercase” to accomplish your goal.
Using Dragon Modes Dragon offers different modes to improve accuracy. If the program is struggling with recognition of numbers or other items, you may find it helpful to switch to a different mode. The mode you are currently using appears in the DragonBar status box.
• Normal Mode is the default, and it distinguishes your dictation from commands by listening for pauses. Commands should always have a pause before and after them.
• Dictation Mode interprets everything you say as dictation and Dragon will not analyze speech for commands.
• Command Mode interprets everything you say as a command and nothing will be transcribed as dictated text.
• Spell Mode can be particularly helpful when you’re using unusual words, inserting alphanumeric characters or dictating a Web address. In this mode you may say any combination of letters, digits or symbols.
• Numbers Mode works best when you’re dictating straight numeric figures, such as in Excel spreadsheets.
To change the current mode, use any of the following three phrases, substituting the appropriate mode’s name: “Switch to Normal Mode,” “Start Spell Mode” or “Numbers Mode On.” Command and Dictation Mode may also be forced by using keyboard shortcuts. To review or change the keyboard shortcuts used, go to Tools-Options-Hot Keys and click on the button for Force Command Recognition or Force Dictation Recognition.
Adding Unusual Words There are, of course, uncommon proper names and other unusual words that won’t automatically be recognized by the software. In Dragon there is an easy way to add words, along with a phonetic pronunciation. Under the Words menu, select View/Edit, or say “Open Vocabulary Editor.” On the left side is a field for Written Form, and on the right is a field for Spoken Form, where users can specify a word’s phonetic spelling.
For instance, my last name is Knuttgen, which has an unusual spelling and pronunciation. In the Written Form field I would type “Knuttgen,” and in the Spoken Form field I would type “canoe chin.” I’d then click on Add and the next time the words “canoe chin” are spoken, the software will substitute “Knuttgen” in the dictation. This function is also very helpful for adding legal and Latin terminology.
Learning More If you find yourself struggling to remember command options, simply speak the words “What can I say?” and Dragon will display a pop-up list of sample commands specific to the active application. This is a very helpful and easily accessible learning tool.
There are other wonderful resources to help you get the most out of voice recognition software. Remember to use the help files within the program, as well as the accompanying user manual or workbook, which often provide excellent tips. The more you practice, the easier it will become and the more productive you will be.
Britt Lorish Knuttgen is President and Legal Technology Coordinator of Automated Horizons, Inc., based in Roanoke, VA.