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Dragon Dictate 2.5: Editing Text

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Unless you know exactly what you want to say and how to say it as you dictate using Dragon Dictate 2.5, you’ll likely need to edit the original text to make changes in content and formatting. Dragon Dictate can help you do that, and Maria Langer shows you how.
This chapter is from the book

Entering text into a document is the first—and arguably the most important—part of creating a text-based document. But unless you know exactly what you want to say and how to say it as you dictate, you’ll likely need to edit the original text to make changes in content and formatting.

Dragon Dictate can help you do that, too. You can use voice commands to move the insertion point to various places within your document and insert text. You can select, replace, and delete text. You can also use voice commands to change capitalization and add punctuation, such as quotes or brackets, around text. You can even tell Dictate to help you proofread a document by reading it back to you.

This chapter covers all of these topics. But it begins with some information that’s vital to prevent frustration when working with Dictate to edit documents: the so-called “Golden Rule.”

The Golden Rule

As you dictate to transcribe text with Dragon Dictate, Dictate creates and maintains a record of what it has typed for you. This record, called a cache, is relied upon by Dictate when you use commands to navigate, select, and edit text.

If you manually enter or edit text in a document, Dictate doesn’t know anything about these changes. Because of this, Dictate can’t reliably react to commands to navigate within manually entered or modified text. So if you issue a voice command to select or modify certain text after manually changing a document, there’s a chance that Dictate might not respond as you expect.

And that brings up what Nuance Communications, makers of Dragon Dictate, refer to as “ch04lev1sec1”: “When you’re working with text, don’t mix your voice with your hands.”

Here’s an example. Suppose you used dictation to type the phrase. I’m thrilled that my computer can take dictation for me circle_a.jpg. You decide that you want to replace the word thrilled with something less emphatic, like happy. So you say Select thrilled. Happy. Dictate selects the word thrilled and replaces it with the word happy, leaving the blinking insertion point right after happy circle_b.jpg.


circle_a.jpg In this example, I’ve dictated some text,...


circle_b.jpg ... and then used a voice command to select and replace a word.

Now you want to continue typing from the end. But because you’re so excited that your computer can take dictation—you really are thrilled, you see—you forget the Golden Rule and click at the end of the document circle_c.jpg instead of using the Go to End command. From that point forward, Dictate is out of sync with what’s in the document window.


circle_c.jpg But then I violated the Golden Rule by clicking at the end of the sentence instead of using a voice command to get there.

Why did that simple click confuse Dictate? Because you moved the insertion point and Dictate has no way of knowing that you did. As a result, if you then say, for example, Select previous three words, Dictate will not really know what the previous three words are and may select the wrong text circle_d.jpg. It’s all downhill from there.


circle_d.jpg Subsequently issuing another voice command such as Select previous three words results in an incorrect selection.

There are exceptions to the Golden Rule. Because Note Pad is part of Dictate, Dictate can see what’s in the Note Pad window. In most cases, it can still figure out what you want to do, even if you mixed voice and keyboard editing.

Dictate also allows you to mix voice and keyboard editing for TextEdit and Microsoft Word. To do so, however, you must properly set the Auto Cache option in the Dictation pane of Dictate preferences.

If you unintentionally or unavoidably violate the Golden Rule—for example, you manually edit part of a document that you can’t seem to edit using voice commands—you can instruct Dictate to read and re-cache the document. This throws out everything Dictate knows about the document—including your recorded voice—and stores a new version of it in cache. You can then continue working on it using voice commands.

This part of the chapter explains how to set up TextEdit and Word so that you don’t need to follow the Golden Rule as well as how to clear the cache in case you do violate it when you shouldn’t.

To set up Auto Cache for TextEdit & Microsoft Word:

  1. In Dragon Dictate, choose Dictate > Preferences, or press Command-Comma.
  2. Click the Dictation button at the top of the window that appears circle_a.jpg.


    circle_e.jpg By default, Auto Cache is turned on for TextEdit but turned off for Microsoft Word. To mix voice and keyboard editing in an application, turn its check box on.

  3. Turn on the check boxes for each application you plan to mix dictation and keyboard editing.
  4. Click the window’s close button.

To rebuild the cache for a document:

In Dictation or Command mode, use one of the following techniques:

  • Say Cache Document. This clears out the cache and reads the entire document back into cache so Dictate knows what the document contains.
  • Select the text you want to cache and say Cache Selection. This clears out the cache and reads the selected text back into the cache so Dictate knows what it contains. If you want to work with another part of the document, you need to cache that.
  • Say Purge Cache. This clears out the cache, thus telling Dictate that the document is empty. In some cases—for example, when working with an automatically cached document, such as Note Pad, TextEdit, or Word—the cache is automatically resaved.
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