Dictation software is an assistive technology that enables writers to write sentences by speaking them, rather than typing them. “Speech-to-text”, “voice-to-text” and “speech recognition” all refer to the conversion of speech (live or recorded) to text.
Dictation software is incredibly valuable for writers, regardless of if they’re a seasoned author or working on their debut novel, because it allows users to write faster and easier. Dictation software is most useful during the first stages of the writing process, where the author's main objective is brainstorming, outlining ideas, and ‘getting words on paper’ before refining the draft later on.
The main things to consider when choosing the best dictation software for writers are whether the interface is easy and logical to use, and the price of the subscription. Dictation software eliminates barriers with physical disabilities that limit their ability to use a keyboard, and language-processing disorders which complicates writing.
The 11 best dictation software for writers are listed below.
- Transkriptor: An online transcription tool harnessing artificial intelligence for swift and accurate transcription, ideal for various audio files like interviews and podcasts.
- Otter.ai: A cloud-based service renowned for its real-time transcription capabilities. It excels in transcribing meetings, interviews, and lectures.
- Google Docs Voice Typing: Integrated directly into Google Docs, the free tool offers real-time transcription and editing capabilities.
- Nuance Dragon: Dragon provides top-tier dictation services, adapting to users' voices and terminologies over time for enhanced accuracy.
- Windows Speech Recognition: Built into the Windows operating system, Windows Speech tool allows users to dictate text and control their PCs using voice commands.
- Apple Dictation: Integrated into Apple devices, Apple Dictation service offers quick and efficient transcription services.
- Speech Notes: A user-friendly web-based tool known for its continuous dictation capabilities.
- Airgram: A modern transcription tool that combines advanced voice recognition technology with a simple interface.
- Braina Speech Recognition Software: Braina serves as a virtual assistant, allowing users to control their computers, browse the web, and perform tasks using voice commands.
- Notta Web App: An online dictation application that stands out for its clean interface and ability to handle long-duration dictations.
- Microsoft Dictation App for Microsoft 365: The tool simplifies the process of creating documents by providing seamless dictation capabilities within popular Office applications like Word and PowerPoint.
Transkriptor is a powerful AI-powered dictation service which reaches up to 99% accuracy, available as a mobile app for Android and iPhone, a Google Chrome extension and a webpage. Transkriptor converts live speech into text, like meetings, interviews and lectures, as well as being able to create transcriptions from any link.
The quality of the transcription is dependent on the quality of the microphone recording the audio. Transkriptor earned a 4.5 out of 5 based on more than 50 Capterra reviews, and 4.7 out of 5 across more than 100 reviews on Trustpilot.
Transkriptor is a cost-effective transcription solution for businesses of all sizes. It has two different price packs. The Lite plan is only $4.99 per month and includes 5 hours of transcription. The Premium plan is $12.49 per month and includes 40 hours of transcription.
Transkriptor has great language coverage, supporting more than one hundred languages, and allowing the user to create written content in multiple languages simultaneously. Language coverage is an important consideration for dictation software.
Otter.ai is an automatic transcription service, with a web browser, desktop app and mobile app. Otter.ai is compatible with Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams meeting to record audio, write notes and summarize the key points. The primary users of Otter.ai are business professionals capturing meetings and students recording lectures, but it is still a useful software for writers because it also supports the upload of recorded audio files.
The free Basic monthly subscription entitles users to 300 minutes of transcription and 3 imported audio files, as well as a Pro subscription for $10 which entitles users to 1,200 minutes of transcription and 10 imported audio files.
Otter.ai is incredibly user-friendly, the search function allows users to find specific information in the text effortlessly and the layout makes it easy to find, edit, highlight and share transcriptions. Like Airgram, Otter.ai compiles an index of all transcriptions, stored in one place with integrated search capabilities.
3. Google Docs Voice Typing
Google Docs Voice Typing is the free pre-installed speech-to-text software for anyone with a Google account, compatible with the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari browsers. Google's dictation software consists of two parts, voice typing which turns spoken word into text, and voice command which allows the user to edit and format the transcript.
Google Docs Voice Typing voice command works with phrases like ‘select paragraph’, ‘italics’, ‘go to the end of the line’. Some users report the limits for the voice command feature as they are only available in English, for documents written in English. The biggest strength of Google Docs voice typing is its language coverage, as it services 125 languages.
The most prominent features of google docs voice typing are the text prediction which underlines uncertain 'suspect' words and suggests alternatives, real-time manual editing of the text without having to turn off the microphone, easy pausing of the recording if needed Google to stop listening for a moment.
The auto-generated punctuation offered by Google's dictation software is not always correct and sometimes inserts punctuation in the wrong places. The usefulness for writers of Google Docs voice typing is limited, because the program is only able to process real-time.
4. Nuance Dragon
Nuance Dragon is an advanced dictation software, for live and pre-recorded audio, advertised as a solution to technological limitations of content writing. There are 2 software packages relevant for writers from the range of subscription options: Dragon Anywhere ($14.99 per month) and Dragon Professional Individual ($500 one-time payment). There is no free trial or 'freemium' subscription, which prevents potential customers from testing the software.
5. Windows Speech Recognition
Windows Speech Recognition, which allows users to enter text on the PC by speaking instead of typing, is Microsoft’s answer to competing dictation softwares. Windows Speech Recognition is compatible with the Windows 10 and Windows 11 operating systems, referred to in each as ‘speech recognition’ and ‘voice typing’.
Windows Speech Recognition is a strong dictation software, as it has a shortcut which allows the user to switch seamlessly between typing and talking, consistently interprets and identifies speech, as well as learning the voice over time to ensure the highest speech recognition accuracy.
A prominent feature of the Windows dictation software is the Speech Dictionary, into which the user enters the correct spelling of words which the software has previously mistaken to ensure there are no errors in the final document. It falls short with regard to needing an internet connection to function, requiring a voice training period to ensure baseline accuracy and supporting only 8 languages.
6. Apple Dictation
Apple Dictation is Apple’s built-in speech recognition feature, included in Apple's desktop and mobile operating system. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, powers Mac’s ‘voice control’ function, which allows users to format and edit text with commands like ‘new paragraph’ or ‘select last word’.
Apple Dictation includes basic commands for punctuation, formatting and capitalisation, as well as offering more advanced commands like symbols for math, currency, emoticons, and intellectual property as part of its ‘enhanced dictation’.
Apple dictation is in and free of charge with macOS, iOS, iPadOS and Apple Watch, which means users start using it right away without any extra downloads. Apple dictation is not ideal for writers since it doesn't support long-form transcription.
7. Speech Notes
Speech Notes is a basic dictation software compatible with Android devices and Google Chrome, quoted by the brand as having 95% accuracy. Speech Notes is available as an extension for Google Chrome, which then exports the transcribed text into the desired program such as Gmail or WordPress.
Speech Notes is compatible with smart capitalisation, built-in spell check and auto-save to ensure user ease. However, users of the software note that Speech Notes lacks advanced features, such as formatting options and a comprehensive editing tool.
Writers looking for more sophisticated capabilities should consider investing in a premium program designed for long form dictation although Speech Notes is an acceptable dictation software.
Airgram is a transcription program which converts video and audio files into text, making them searchable, editable and collaborative. Airgram transcribes online meetings and records the most important data from the call, documenting them in one place for easy access.
The Airgram assistant uses advanced AI models ChatGPT and GPT-4 to automatically document and summarize meetings, with the ultimate aim of compiling them into a centralized knowledge base.
Airgram has two pricing options, the Free subscription which limits users to 5 recordings per month, and the Plus subscription costing $18 per month.
9. Braina Speech Recognition Software
Brain is a speech-to-text tool mainly intended for Windows users, although an outdated program is available to download for Mac users. Braina is popular for its user-friendly interface, which provides assistance for office tasks and cuts the time taken to write emails, blogs and social media posts.
One substantial limitation of Braina as a dictation software for writers is that it does not support long form dictation minds, meaning it is of minimal use to authors outlining stories, drafting chapters or working towards any longer text.
Briana has three pricing options, Braina Lite which is free, Braina Pro which costs $79 per year for all the same features with voice command and dictation in more languages, and Braina Pro Lifetime which is a one-time payment of $199 for indefinite access to the software. The Braina Pro Lifetime subscription has reasonable price compared to competing dictation softwares, like the Dragon Home package which is $100 more expensive.
10. Notta Web App
Notta is a web-based dictation software, which converts speech to text, for both real-time meetings and existing recordings, at an accuracy of 98.86%. Notta is a powerful solution for time management, as its interface helps to streamline a writer’s workflow by displaying the ‘scheduler’ and ‘upcoming video calls’ tabs in a sidebar.
Notta is compatible with PC, via the Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari web browsers, as well as mobile devices, via the free download of their smartphone app on iOS or Android. The Notta web app supports transcription in 104 languages.Notta syncs across a number of devices.
Notta has a tiered pricing plan, starting with the Basic option which is free of charge but only allows users 120 minutes of dictation per month, before advancing to the Pro option which is $8.25 and allows users 1,800 minutes per month. The transcripts it produces are still susceptible to errors in sentence structure and sometimes fail to differentiate between two speakers.
11. Microsoft Dictation App for Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 Dictation is a web-based dictation software included across the Microsoft Office suite. Updates to the feature include an easy-to-use dictation toolbar, intended to improve writers’ experience when using it to transcribe text for notes, emails, documents, presentations and speaker notes.
The Microsoft Dictation app supports handy voice commands which allow users to add punctuation. Microsoft's 365 dictation is compatible with voice commands in 38 languages.
The language of the voice commands does not have to match the language of the document in the Microsoft Dictation App, unlike in Google Docs Voice Typing where this is a limitation. Microsoft users praise the accuracy and accessibility of the operating systems built-in dictation app, but note that it lacks comprehensive editing options. Microsoft Dictation is completely free.
What is Dictation Software?
Dictation software is an assistive technology which allows users to write sentences by speaking them, instead of writing them. Dictation software is a general term for “speech-to-text”, “voice-to-text” and “speech recognition” services. Speech recognition technology works by breaking down speech into individual sounds, before an algorithm determines a word for each one that is the most probable match.
Dictation software is most useful for authors at the start of the writing process, as it allows them to focus on the story and get their ideas on the page.
Is Dictation Software the same as Speech Recognition?
No, dictation software is not the same as speech recognition. Dictation software and speech recognition are closely related, but they are not exactly the same. Speech recognition is a broader technology that interprets spoken language into commands.
Its applications are more varied while it can include dictation. For instance, speech recognition is used in virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa to understand and execute voice commands such as "play music" or "set an alarm."
How to Choose Dictation Software for Writers?
To choose dictation software for writers consider some features. The best dictation software depends entirely on personal preference, and varies depending on the writing needs.
The main thing to consider when choosing a dictation software for the project is whether the program is able to handle large audio files or not.
Another thing to consider is the price of the software, as the lower-cost or ‘freemium’ options without collaboration features are suitable for writing, which is usually a solo endeavor.
How Do Writers Use Dictation Software?
Dictation software allows authors to write faster than ever before, regardless of if they’re a seasoned author or working on their debut novel. Dictation software is most helpful during the first stages of the writing process, where the author’s main objective is brainstorming, outlining ideas and ‘getting words on paper’ before refining the first draft. The text requires close editing to ensure no spelling errors or conflicts between the audio and the transcript slip through the net.
When Do Writers Use Dictation Software?
Writers use dictation software at the start of the writing process, to help get the first draft done. People speak approximately three times faster than they are able to type, so dictation software frees writers from the keyboard and allows them to focus on the story and ‘getting words on paper’ before editing.
Is Dictation Software Essential for Writers?
Yes, dictation software is essential for writers because it eases the adverse physical effects of typing on a laptop for hours on end, such as eye strain, back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Dictation software is equally as essential for speeding up the writing process, because it allows authors to record thoughts and ideas quickly, preventing the writer’s block associated with the blank page.
What is the Accuracy of Dictation Software for Authors?
The accuracy of dictation software is anywhere between 90% and 99%, depending on the program the author is using. It should be noted that the accuracy of the transcription is dependent on the quality of the microphone used to make the recording. It means dictation software is rarely 100% accurate and not always suitable for applications in which speakers need to be quoted verbatim.
Can Dictation Software be Used to Write an Entire Novel?
Yes, dictation software can be used to write an entire novel or long projects like a book chapter, a comprehensive draft. Speed of writing is imperative in the world of publishing, so the time and energy that dictation software saves authors is incredibly valuable.
How Often do Writers use Dictation Software?
How often a writer uses dictation software depends on the individual author. Dictation software increases the speed of content production, but it is limited by spelling mistakes and reduced accuracy in noisy environments which necessitate editing later in the process.
Can Writers Use Dictation Software for Lawyers?
Yes, writers can use dictation software for lawyers originally designed with the legal profession in mind. The main way that dictation softwares for lawyers differs from other dictation softwares is the level of security they provide. Lawyers are privy to sensitive client information which must remain confidential. Dictation software for lawyers guarantees privacy via password-protection or encryption in cloud storage.
Is Dictation better than Transcription?
Yes, dictation software is a better option for enhancing the writing process than traditional transcription options. Writers generally find dictation better than transcription because of the time it saves. Dictation is better transcription since transcription requires human intervention from professional typists to physically type up recorded speech, whereas dictation software uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology to produce an immediate transcript.