How to Dictate in Word

Save your fingers and create documents using your voice

What to Know

  • Record audio directly in Word by selecting the downward arrow next to Dictate > Transcribe > Start recording > Save and transcribe now.
  • Or, to transcribe existing audio, select Upload audio > select the file > Open.
  • Word Online's Transcribe feature is available only to Microsoft 365 premium subscribers.

This article covers how to record and transcribe live audio, upload an audio file for transcription, and edit a Microsoft Word transcription.

About Microsoft Word's Transcribe Feature

You can use the Transcribe feature in Word Online as long as you have a premium subscription to Microsoft 365. There are two ways to get a transcription.

  • You can speak directly into your computer microphone (or an attached microphone) and record and transcribe audio simultaneously.
  • You can upload up to 300 minutes of audio per month, and Microsoft will transcribe it.

If you don't have a premium subscription to Microsoft 365, the Transcribe option may still be visible, but you'll get a prompt to upgrade if you try to use it.

Record and Transcribe Live Audio in Microsoft Word Online

Whether you're recording an interview with someone else, or your voice, Microsoft Word Online can both capture and transcribe that audio at one time.

  1. Log into and open a new or existing document.

    The Transcribe feature works in the Microsoft Edge and Chrome browsers.

  2. If you're not already there, click the Home tab.

    The Home tab on the MS Word Ribbon.
  3. In the Ribbon, select the downward arrow next to Dictate.

    The Dictate menu on MS Word.
  4. In the menu that appears, select Transcribe, and the Transcribe panel opens on the right.

    The Transcribe option in Word.
  5. Click Start recording to start recording. If this is the first time you've used Transcribe, you may need to allow the browser to access your microphone. Click Allow.

    The Start Recording option in the Transcribe panel on Word.
  6. The recording starts automatically, and a Pause button will appear in the Transcribe panel on the right. Begin speaking or having a conversation with someone else. You can click that Pause button at any time to pause the recording.

    The Pause button in the Transcribe panel on MS Word.
  7. If paused, the button changes to a microphone. When you're ready to begin recording again, click the microphone, and it will turn back into a pause button.

    The Microphone button in the Transcribe Panel on Word.
  8. When you're finished recording, click Save and transcribe now to save your recording and process the transcription.

    The Save and transcribe now option in Word.
  9. The transcription will appear in the Transcribe panel.

    A completed transcription in MS Word.

Transcribe Recorded Audio in Microsoft Word

If you have a recorded conversation or notes you want to transcribe, you can use the Word Transcribe feature for that, as well. To do that, open a Word document, go to the Home tab of the Ribbon and navigate to Transcribe. Then:

  1. In the Transcribe pane, select Upload audio

    The Upload option in the Transcribe Panel in MS Word.
  2. Navigate to and select the file you want to upload and then click Open. The file will begin to transcribe.

    Depending on the audio file size that you've uploaded, the transcription could take a while to complete.

    Opening a file to transcribe in Word.
  3. Once complete, the transcription appears in the Transcribe panel.

    A completed transcription in Word.

Edit Transcriptions in Microsoft Word Online

Once you have your transcription file, you may find that some of the words didn't transcribe accurately, or there may be other edits that you want to make. The good news is that editing your transcription is easy.

  1. In the Transcribe panel, hover your cursor over the transcription section that you want to edit and click the Edit (pencil) icon.

    The Edit option on a section of transcription in MS Word.
  2. While editing is active, you can edit:

    • The Speaker: You can change the speaker's name, and if you choose, you can change all instances of that name by clicking the box next to Change all Speaker [#].
    • Any of the text in that section.

    If you hit a place in your transcript where you can't figure out what the transcription says or should say, you can always refer back to the recording at the top of the Transcribe panel.

    Transcription editing options in MS Word.
  3. When you've finished making your edits, click the checkmark in the bottom right corner of the editing box to save your edits.

    The confirmation checkmark to save transcript edits in MS Word.

How to Add a Transcription to a Word Document

After you've finished editing your transcript, you can add the whole transcript or part of it to your document. To add a portion of the transcription, hover over the part you want to add and click the plus icon in the upper right corner. That will add that entire section to your document at the location of your cursor.

If you want to add the whole transcript, click Add all to document at the bottom of the Transcribe panel, which adds the entire transcript and a link to the audio file.

An entire transcript added to a MS Word document.
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