iPad Voice Dictation: Commands List & Tips

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iPad Dictation Commands

Voice Dictation, or just Dictation as Apple calls it, is one of my favorite features of iOS on the iPad. As I’ve mentioned recently here, I use it more and more and it just keeps getting better. Though Siri may draw more attention, I think dictation is the far more useful feature right now.

If you haven’t tried out dictation on the iPad you really should give it a go. It can be much faster than typing at times. Here are a few little tips and some common commands you can use to get even more out of dictation:

Speak slowly and clearly: I know this sounds obvious, but it’s an easy one to forget. I find that when I speak too quickly or run my words together I see poor results, as should be expected. When I remember to slow down just a bit and pronounce things clearly I get great results – even when there are low levels of background noise around me (e.g. music or TV playing nearby).

Add punctuation commands as you speak: There are a great number of useful commands that can be used with dictation. Common punctuation is easy to add as you speak. For example you can say “This morning I ate breakfast comma walked the dog comma and took my daughter to school period” – and the result you’ll get will be:

This morning I ate breakfast, walked the dog, and took my daughter to school.

Use languages Other than US English: Dictation supports a range of languages other than just US English. If you’ve installed a keyboard for one of its supported languages then you can dictate in that language as well. I tried this out with Spanish and it worked beautifully. Here are the supported languages:

    • English (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada)
    • French (France, Canada, Switzerland)
    • German (Germany, Switzerland)
    • Japanese (Japan)
    • Spanish (United States, Spain, Mexico)
    • Italian (Italy, Switzerland)
    • Mandarin (Taiwan, China)
    • Cantonese (Hong Kong)
    • Korean (South Korea)

And here are some of the most helpful commands you can use with dictation – with the command listed first and then the result:

question mark: ?

exclamation point: !

underscore: _

comma: ,

open parenthesis: (

close parenthesis: )

quote: “

end quote: “

colon: :

slash: /

ampersand: &

percent sign: %

caps on: caps lock on

caps off: caps lock off

cap: capitalize next word

new line: insert new text line

new paragraph: begin new paragraph

space bar: type a space

To see a full list of dictation commands you can go to this Apple support document. Note that it is titled as a document for Mac – but I’ve found that nearly all the command syntax is the same on the iPad.

Are you using dictation on the iPad? If so, how much and what do you use it the most for?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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9 thoughts on “iPad Voice Dictation: Commands List & Tips”

  1. Sounds good but can please tell me if this is on the new iPad? I have the ipad2 and updated to IOS 6 but how do I get the dictation? Is it a separate application? Thank you.

  2. @pat I had the same question and the answer is iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd generation. Like you, I have an iPad 2 so I can talk to my iPad but it doesn’t take dictation. :) Need to look at third party apps I guess.

  3. As the iPad 3 doesn’t seem to have a wordprocessing apps unless one buys the very expensive page from Apple, it’s not clear where or how one practices long dictations in the event one wanted to write a full-length article. Incidentally, I have an iPad 3 complete with iOS 6. I would appreciate if anyone could help thanks

    1. There are lots of good writing and note taking apps for the iPad – just to name a few there are Byword, iA Writer, Plain Text, Elements and Evernote. There are also other MS Word compatible apps like QuickOffice, Documents to Go, and Office2 HD – though they are in the same sort of price range as Pages.

  4. Great article, Patrick. Thanks. I love this feature. But one problem that I’ve found is that it doesn’t handle names with a “y” in them very well. For example, I can’t figure out how to get it to type Bryan (our son) instead of Brian. Have you had any luck with this kind of thing?


  5. Hi
    I guess I accidentally activated the voice dictation and now my iPad is locked without internet connection. Now I am not able to keyin my PIN and not able to de-activate the voice dictation. Can somebody help me with this?


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