How to Write in a Conversational Tone - A List of Voice Commands for Your Device

May 4, 2022

Ever since I spilled water on the external Apple keyboard, my writing has never been better.

The best methods are born out of necessity. I’ve been experimenting with dictation, and I’m diving in it full time lately.

Medium staff often curates my stories in topics about writing. MADX is helping clients blast past their organic traffic goals with SEO Content Writing Guides. Chris Fox dictates more than 5,000 Words Every Day. Ryan Frawley dictates 50,000 words per week. And our wrists are grateful for the text-to-speech.

Text-to-speech software takes a bit of time to master. Commands are pesky to handle at first, and probably the biggest issue in this transition. Here’s a list of speech commands that will help with the transition away from your keyboard to your microphone. You can power up your writing.

Don’t Lose the Laptop

Dictating is a wonderful tool. You can produce 10 times more content. Your writing voice is more conversational and easier to understand. And you might feel like you’re chatting to your audience instead of doing the hard labor of writing.

But editing is a different beast, and having a keyboard pays off handsomely. Fixing typos, breaking down paragraphs, and copying stuff is a lot more trouble when you don’t have a physical keyboard.

The Speech Commands

I’m not a native speaker and I sport an accent, but Apple is not making a fuss over it. Text-to-speech software picks up on more than 90% of my English.

My biggest issue starting out was pronouncing the word ‘dot.’ If you say the word as it is, it often comes out like ‘that’ or ‘thought’ or ‘dirt.’ Frustrating, right?

Having the command list can help you reduce that frustration. If your device doesn’t pick up on common commands — like dots — you can use an alternative phrase to smoothen the process.

The left phrases are voice commands, and the right character is the result.

Common Characters

  • Period/point/dot/full stop: .
  • Apostrophe:
  • Open bracket: [
  • Close bracket: ]
  • Open parenthesis: (
  • Close parenthesis: )
  • Open brace: {
  • Close brace: }
  • Open angle bracket: <
  • Close angle bracket: >
  • Colon: :
  • Comma: ,
  • Dash:
  • Ellipsis:
  • Exclamation mark: !
  • Hyphen: -
  • Question mark: ?
  • Quote:
  • End quote:
  • Begin single quote:
  • End single quote:
  • Semicolon: ;

Typography

  • Ampersand: &
  • Asterisk: *
  • At sign: @
  • Backslash: \
  • Forward slash: /
  • Caret: ^
  • Centre dot:
  • Large centre dot: ●
  • Degree sign: °
  • Hashtag/pound sign: #
  • Percent sign: %
  • Underscore: _
  • Vertical bar: |

Format

  • New line/next line: Starts a new line.
  • Numeral: Formats the next phrase as a number.
  • Roman numeral: Formats the next phrase as a Roman numeral.
  • New paragraph: Starts a new paragraph.
  • No space on: Start the next phrase without spaces.
  • No space off: Resumes default spacing.
  • Tab key: Move to the next tab stop.

Capitalization

  • Caps on: Write the next line in Title Case.
  • Caps off: Resume the default case lettering.
  • All caps: The word is in ALL CAPS.
  • All caps on: The next phrase in ALL CAPS.
  • All caps off: Resumes the default case lettering.

Math

  • Equal sign: =
  • Greater than sign: >
  • Less than sign: <
  • Minus sign: -
  • Multiplication sign: x
  • Plus sign: +

Intellectual property

  • copyright sign: ©
  • Registered sign: ®
  • Trademark sign: ™

Takeaways

You can save hours of typing, wrist pains, backache, and stilted voice by using text-to-speech software. You can dictate while driving, while hitting the gym, by walking your dogs or riding the bus.

The command list can help you start on the right foot. Software still doesn’t everything a full 100% out of every word, but I’m finding that my text has fewer typos. I can produce ten times more content using this method.

Thank you for reading (exclamation point)


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