How to dictate more effectively on your iPad

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There are two main methods for capturing text while using your iPad.  One way is by using Siri to carry out an ever growing variety of commands and tasks.  The other method is through dictation accessed via your iPad keyboard.  While Siri is a perfectly capable tool to use for dictation, and might be your preferred way to capture text, we have found that our favorite digital assistant especially shines when asked to answer questions and perform tasks.  Thomas recently wrote about some of his favorite uses for Siri on his iPad.  Dictation, however, is more of a quick and dirty way to collect your thoughts and have them transposed right onto your iPad screen whenever you typically would need to enter text in an app.  Think of it as an alternative to typing.  While a very helpful tool, there are some initial challenges to dictating effectively on your iPad or other iOS device.  The manner in which we speak doesn’t always translate exactly to how we write–or even how we collect our thoughts.  As a result we’ve collected some tips to help you be the most efficient at using dictation.


First and foremost, to use dictation, make sure you have an internet connection, and that you enable it in the Settings app on your iPad.  To do this, go to Settings–>General–>keyboard, and tap the slider to on.  In addition, please note: Dictation may not be available in all languages or in all areas, and features may vary.

If you are wondering how dictation works, or how Apple processes your requests to dictate in an app, you can visit and review Apple’s Privacy Policy.

How to Dictate text on your iPad

  • To initialize Dictation on your iPad– Tap the the Dictate button symbol on your keyboard.  When you are finished speaking, tap done.

  • To add additional text in same session–Tap the Dictate button again and continue dictating. Tap done when finished.

  • To insert text, or replace existing text, move the cursor to the desired location.  To replace text, highlight desired text, and press the the Dictate button symbol.  Tap done when finished.

Adding punctuation and Formatting text using Dictation

  • To add punctuation, say the punctuation mark where in the desired location of the line of text.  (Have you checked the mail–question mark) = Have you checked the mail?

  • To capitalize just the first letter of a word–caps on … caps off 
  • To begin a quoted line of text– start quote … end quote

  • To start text on a new line–new line
  • To start a new paragraph–new paragraph

  • To capitalize the next word–cap

  • To make a word all capital lettters–all caps

  • To make the enclosed words all uppercase–all caps on … all caps off

  • To make the enclosed words all lowercase–no caps on … no caps off

  • To run a series of words together–no space on … no space off

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