How to use dictation in Microsoft Word and Outlook

App/System: Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook
Learn: How to use the dictation services while writing documents and emails
Skill Level: Easy
Read Time: 2 min

Microsoft tried a few years ago to implement dictation services into Word and in my opinion it wasn’t reliable enough for most business purposes. However, having recently retried the services, we have found that actually it performs very well considering there is no training required.

Where can I use dictation?

Many of the Microsoft products now integrate with their cloud voice recognition software and we have seen that has started to have new uses like subtitles in PowerPoint. At the time of writing dictation exists in Microsoft Word for writing documents and Microsoft Outlook for writing emails.

How to use dictation?

While writing documents or an email the user simply needs to press the Dictate button on the top bar


You then start talking.

What can you say?

As with all dictation programs sometimes you want to give the system commands for things like punctuation and formatting. Here are some of the things you can say (you can find more in Microsoft Help).

How to dictate punctuation in Microsoft Word and Outlook

Phrase(s) Output
period, full stop .
comma ,
question mark ?
exclamation mark/point !
new line new line
apostrophe-s ‘s
colon :
semicolon ;
open quotes close quotes ” “
ellipsis, dot dot dot
begin/open single quote end/close single quote ‘ ‘
left/open parentheses right/close parentheses ( )
left/open bracket right/close bracket [ ]
left/open brace right/close brace { }

How to dictate edits in Microsoft Word and Outlook

delete that*
delete last [1-100] words/sentences
delete [word or phrase]*
insert space
backspace [1-100]
Top tip

  • Saying “delete” by itself removes the last word or punctuation before the cursor.
  • Saying “delete that” removes the last spoken utterance.
  • An example of using [phrase] would be dictating “what a super nice day” and then saying “delete super.” You would then be left with the phrase “what a nice day.”

How to dictate formatting in Microsoft Word and Outlook

<format*> [word or phrase]
decrease indent
clear all formatting
align [left, center, right]
Top tip

  • You can bold, italicize, underline, or strikethrough a word or phrase. An example would be dictating “review by tomorrow at 5PM”, then saying “bold tomorrow” which would leave you with “review by tomorrow at 5PM.”
  • Try phrases like “bold last word” or “underline last sentence.”

How to dictate lists in Microsoft Word and Outlook

start list
start numbered list
next line
exit list

How to dictate comments in Microsoft Word and Outlook

add comment [your message here]*
Top tip

  • Saying “add comment look at this tomorrow” will insert a new comment with the text “Look at this tomorrow” inside it.
  • Saying “add comment” by itself will create a blank comment box that can be manually typed into

How to get help, pause and exit while dictating in Microsoft Word and Outlook

show help
pause dictation
exit dictation*
Top tip
To resume dictation, please use the keyboard shortcut (ALT + `) or press the Mic icon in the floating dictation menu.

How to dictate symbols in Microsoft Word and Outlook

Phrase(s) Output
asterisk *
forward slash /
vertical bar sign, pipe character |
backquote, backtick `
underscore _
paragraph sign/mark
section sign §
ampersand, and sign &
at sign @
copyright sign ©
registered sign ®
degree symbol °
caret symbol ^

How to dictate mathematic symbols in Microsoft Word and Outlook

Phrase(s) Output
percent sign %
number/pound sign #
plus sign +
minus sign
multiplication sign x
plus or minus sign ±
division sign ÷
equal sign =
less than sign, left angle bracket greater than sign, right angle bracket < >

How to dictate currency in Microsoft Word and Outlook

Phrase(s) Output
dollar sign $
pound sterling sign £
euro sign
yen sign ¥

How to dictate emojis/faces in Microsoft Word and Outlook

Phrase(s) Output
smiley face 🙂
frowny face 🙁
winky face 😉
heart emoji <3

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