Things to Consider: The Pros and Cons of Voice Recognition Software

Posted on May 14, 2013


shutterstock_76155979-600x400For someone considering purchasing or using voice recognition software, particularly writers, there’s an important question to ask: “Is it worth it?” Honestly, it really depends on a person’s individual preference…especially writing preference. Some writers (myself included) find the very act of typing, or writing versus speaking, to be where the magic’s at, so to speak; we became writers for the very fact that telling stories, or conversing, does not come as easily for us. But there are others who do not like to write, or do not feel confident about their writing abilities at all. This preference alone might help you determine which route to take when authoring a book, although, there are other aspects to take into account. Here are some advantages and disadvantages commonly noted by voice recognition software creators and users.


1.      Disabilities

Perhaps the biggest reason voice recognition software can be so useful is the fact that it allows people with disabilities to type and operate computers. For those who can’t operate a computer or write with their hands for any reason, being able to dictate is incredibly useful.

2.      Speed

Another reason some people are enamored with the concept of voice recognition software is the idea that it allows for more speed in producing typed work. Instead of having to learn to use a keyboard effectively, or type a certain number of correct words per minute, a user can simply speak. For those who can generate ideas quickly and clearly via speech, the writing process can become a lot less painful.

3.      Spelling

Some also say that an advantage with speak-to-text devices is that they always know the correct spelling of a word. For those who struggle with correct spelling, being able to dictate to a program that can automatically spell out the word correctly on-screen is definitely a time-saver.


1.      Training

A drawback to these types of programs is that when you first purchase them, you have to train them to recognize individual voices. It takes time for a program to learn your voice and way of speaking. This means that at first you have to invest a lot of patience and effort into your software. Even after it has been trained it is still subject to making mistakes, such as struggling to tell the difference between similar-sounding words or failing to recognize an unusual name. Some users find that even after much training, a program still might struggle to recognize a voice, only working at its optimum level of efficiency if they adopt an unnatural speaking tone and over-enunciate words. This can make the experience awkward and uncomfortable, since it diminishes the ease of speech.

2.      Delays

Just because these programs have been designed to speed work up doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer from occasional mishaps. At times the software can take a moment to register what has been said. This can be frustrating for authors used to only being hampered by how quickly their fingers can move and not wanting to be interrupted in their flows of thought.

3.      Limited Vocabulary

Voice recognition software recognizes “normal” words in the English language. While most of the time, this is perfect for writing, there are times when this isn’t quite enough. For instance, unusual or fictional names in a story aren’t going to be in the program’s vocabulary. Even traditional names can be a struggle in today’s world when many are spelled unusually—the program can’t know when it hears “James” that you mean “Jaymz.” Slang can also present a problem. If you’re trying to write with a particular voice, a speech recognition device might not cut it; the time it takes to go back over and fix the mistakes, and the frustration you face, might not be worth it.

In the end, each individual’s experience will be different. As a writer, you have to decide what is most important to you. You need to know what helps and what hinders your flow of thought and creativity as well as your speed and ease of writing. If speaking to your computer and possibly being overheard or interrupted makes you uncomfortable, you probably will prefer the “old-fashioned” way. However, if you hate writing and find the idea of telling your story appealing, investing in voice recognition software may be your first step on your path to becoming a published author.

Rachel Schade, Editor and Writer, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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Posted in: Publishing