Tuesday Tip: Talking to Your Email

By Tony Rushin


I’m an okay typist at about 50 words a minute. However, I really slow down when I’m typing a text or email on my iPhone. Last year, out of frustration, I learned the basics of dictation using my iPhone, and I’ve been pleased with the experience. I’m much more efficient now when I text or email from my iPhone. I’m surprised by how few people use the dictation function – perhaps everyone is a fast iPhone typist? It’s very easy to get started and learn a short dictation vocabulary.

Here’s how to get started: 

First, locate the microphone symbol when you pull up a text or email on your iPhone. It’s the microphone next to the space bar, not the one in the iMessage box (which sends an audio file).

To dictate an email, fill in the To and Subject lines, put your cursor in the body of the email, hit the microphone symbol, and start talking. You need to speak punctuation (“Hello comma Diane comma”) when you dictate – knowing this rule gets you 80% of the way there.

In addition to speaking punctuation, here are a few simple dictation tips that let you do 98% of what you you need to do: 

“new line” – moves cursor to next line

“new paragraph” – skips a line

“cap” –  capitalizes next word

“all caps” – capitalizes every letter until you say “no caps”

“quote” – starts the quote; ends the quote when you say “end quote”

“left paren” – (

“dollar sign” – $ (for most symbols, say the name of the symbol followed by “sign”)

As an example, here is a dictation, followed by what is actually entered into the email: 

[press microphone] Hello comma Diane comma new paragraph dang it exclamation point I knew it was going to be tough for cap auburn to beat all caps uga all caps off again period oh well comma im certainly happy that alabama made it into the playoffs over ohio state left paren as a cap penn cap state alum comma I’m forbidden dash by law dash to ever root for ohio state right paren period new paragraph lets catch up next week semi colon does Wednesday work for you question mark new paragraph regards comma new line tony [press microphone again to end the dictation]


Hello, Diane,

Dang it! I knew it was going to be tough for Auburn to beat UGA again. Oh well, I’m certainly happy that Alabama made it into the playoffs over Ohio State (as a Penn State alum, I’m forbidden – by law – to ever root for Ohio state).

Let’s catch up next week; does Wednesday work for you?



When I’m done, the only edit I need to make is to capitalize the “S” in the second instance of “Ohio State.” Notice that I don’t need to tell the dictation software to capitalize words that are proper nouns (Diane, Alabama, Ohio, Wednesday, Tony) or the first word of a sentence. Also notice that it’s smart enough to figure out contractions and most things in context (since I capitalized Penn, it got it right and didn’t put “Pen”; however, it was inconsistent about capitalizing “State” after “Ohio”).

Here are a few important tips:

  • Siri needs to be turned on for dictation to work (Siri is powered by Nuance/Dragon, market-leading dictation software).
  • Dictation uses your data plan since it accesses a remote server to decipher what you’re saying. Of course, if you have unlimited data – or are connected to WiFi – you don’t have to worry about this.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Proofread and edit when done; dictation isn’t 100% foolproof. Also, if you want to add bold, underlining, or italics, you’ll need to add this by hand.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to expand my dictation vocabulary so I can dictate faster, more complete emails. I found this list of iPhone dictation commands that you might want to refer to if you decide to jump into doing dictation on your iPhone.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 


Tony Rushin Headshot

Tony Rushin: In his role as VP of sales & marketing, he is responsible for hiring, managing and coaching the sales team and always staying on top of (and meeting) the needs of clients. Under his leadership, the company has steadily grown each year.

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