Microsoft is giving Office Insiders a chance to test out the latest accessibility feature to hit the productivity suite: voice dictation. Insiders on the Fast ring will now be able to use speech recognition built into Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook to write documents, populate slides, compose emails, and take notes.
Getting started with dictation is fairly straightforward. Within whichever Office app you're using, a new Dictate button will appear on the Home tab. If you have a microphone connected to your PC, you can simply click the Dictate button to begin, and the icon will turn red to indicate you can start speaking. As you speak, the text will appear in your document, email, slide, or page.
According to Microsoft, the feature works best if you speak conversationally; the app will pick up on pauses and insert punctuation automatically. If you need to add specific punctuation, you can do so by saying its name. So, for example, you can add a question mark simply by saying "question mark."
Last year, Microsoft Garage launched a dictation add-in for Office which essentially did the same thing. However, baking it directly into Office is likely to make the feature much more accessible to everyone.
If you're an Office 365 subscriber on the Insider Fast ring, you can check out voice dictation now. Be aware that, at least for now, the feature only works for the English language in the U.S. You also must be connected to the internet to use dictation.