How to Use Microsoft Word for Voice Transcriptions

Speaking is generally faster than typing for our productivity. While Dictate in Microsoft Word can create a document with your voice, you can also use Transcribe to convert an audio file into text. This article will show you how to use the Transcribe feature in Word and turn out documents like lecture notes, meeting meetings, and anything else that’s in recorded audio.




How to Start Transcribing in Word

The Transcribe button is located under the Office Dictation button on the Ribbon in the Voice group (spot the Mic icon). For now, you can only see it if you have Word for the web and Microsoft Word for Windows with a Microsoft 365 subscription. The screenshots below are from Word desktop in Microsoft 365.

Launch Microsoft Word on the desktop or the Word web app in Microsoft Edge and Chrome. You can dictate and transcribe a new recording or upload an audio file from another source.

  1. On the Ribbon, go to Home > Dictate.
  2. Select the dropdown arrow to expand the options under Dictate.
    Word's Transcribe button

  3. Select Transcribe.
  4. The Transcribe pane opens on the right and offers two methods to begin the process.
    Word Transcribe sidebar options


Upload Audio

As the instructions suggest, you can upload an audio file in the supported .wav, .mp4, .m4a, and .mp3 formats. The voice-to-text conversion happens in the cloud via your OneDrive account. The upload time to OneDrive can take some time depending on the file size of the recording and your internet speed. So, always keep the Transcribe pane open till the conversion is complete.

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  1. Select Upload audio in the Transcribe pane.
  2. Go to the location of the saved audio file and select it.
  3. The file is transcribed, and the text is displayed on the Transcribe pane with a timestamp. The voice notes are separated by speakers in the transcription.
  4. Select the + icon to add the snippet to the document on the left or the pencil icon to edit the snippet before you add it to the document.
  5. The Add to Document button offers several options to manage the transcribed text. For instance, you can opt to add just the text without the timestamps and speaker labels.


Word Transcribe upload audio

Start Recording

You can also dictate (or record via the PC microphone) and let Word transcribe it directly. The process is the same in the background as mentioned above.

  1. Select the Start recording button in the Transcribe pane.
  2. Select Save and transcribe now when the recording is done. You can also tap the Mic icon to pause and resume the recording.
  3. Unlike Dictate, you won’t see the voice-to-text conversion instantly in the document till Word completes the transcription in the background.
  4. Choose how to display the transcribed text in the document with the options under the Add to Document button.

Word Transcribe recording an audio clip


Do note that after the transcription is done, your audio and transcription results are not stored by Microsoft.

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The Difference Between Transcribe and Dictate

Like all good transcription software, Microsoft Word’s Transcribe and Dictate work hand in hand. Use Dictate when you need to just convert your real-time speech to text. Choose Transcribe for previously recorded audio that needs a text conversion. There are other subtle differences, too—for instance, Word’s transcription separates different speakers in the converted text. Also, if you only want a real-time speech-to-text conversion of your own voice, then opt for dictation, as it’s faster than transcription, which happens in the cloud.

Tips for Using Microsoft Word’s Transcription Feature

There are many ways you can enhance the quality and your workflow if you start using Word for transcription more and more.

  • Find a quiet place for recording your transcription session.
  • Record in a device with the best quality mic and then upload to Word.
  • You can transcribe audio files that are stored on your computer or in the cloud.
  • Transcribe in Word supports common formats like WAV, MP4, M4A, and MP3.
  • You can edit the transcription, as the recording and conversion aren’t always perfect.
  • Set up a Word template if you often transcribe a specific type of audio (E.g. Meeting notes or interviews).
  • Use advanced Word tools like the Microsoft Editor to make transcriptions error free.
  • Adjust the Playback speak on the player to skip through longer recordings.
  • Transcribe in multiple languages, as Word supports 80+ regions.


Ideas for Using the Transcription Feature in Your Everyday Work

Transcription can make your productivity leapfrog when you have to work with both voice and text. It’s a timesaver while giving you ample scope to edit and improve the correctness of the transcription. Here are some ideas you can try out in your everyday work.

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  • Transcribe meetings and interviews. This is a great way to capture all of the important information from a meeting or interview without having to take notes yourself. You can then edit transcribed meeting notes as needed, format it with the help of meeting notes templates, and share it with others who were not present.
  • Transcribe audiobooks and lectures. It’s tougher to remember key points in audiobooks. Create a written version of an audio book or lecture, and read it at your own pace. Transcription can be handy for making study notes to refer to later while you focus more on a professor’s lecture.
  • Transcribe your own thoughts and ideas. If you have a lot of ideas that you want to remember, you can transcribe them into a document. The time stamps and any other hints will help you to keep track of your thoughts. Later, you can organize them in a way that makes sense.
  • Transcribe documents in other languages. If you are fluent in another language, you can transcribe documents from that language into your own language. Word’s Transcribe supports multiple languages. So, it can be a great way to learn new vocabulary and grammar and even improve your translation skills.


Start Recording Directly in Word

Experiment with the features in real-world situations like a classroom lecture or a collaborative document. It could be a handy way to tackle out attention deficit habits while ensuring we don’t miss out on anything. Like any recording, you can jump to a specific moment and play it back for more context. Maybe, this will make us feel that Word is now a better all-around document editor thanks to its speech-to-text capabilities.

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