Do you have lots of old scribbled letters and other documents that need to be transcribed? Not a great typer? Use your phone! There are several free dictation phone apps that allow you to read aloud and it will transcribe. They’re amazingly accurate.

I recently tried “Dictate” (free version has ads, but they’re not too distracting and the premium version might be worth it if you’re using it a lot). Dragon Dictation is another one. Check the app store to see what’s available. MICROSOFT WORD also has a dictate function, but I prefer to talk into my phone since it’s more portable and I don’t have a good microphone on my computer.

Once you are done, you can email yourself the text to edit on your computer. Copy the text into word or notepad and clean up misunderstood words and punctuation.

!!! Keep your eye on the phone screen while you are talking – I discovered the Dictate app stopped recording for some reason midway through. I just clicked the record button again and it resumed.

!!! Say the punctuation as you’re reading. It takes a little getting used to, but it will become more natural as you do it.

For example: “John Smith COMMA my grandfather COMMA sailed from Germany on January 5th 1850 PERIOD”. Just say the date the way you would normally without the comma (it’s really good at recognizing and formatting dates), but you want to say the other commas and period.

Others Commands: NEW PARAGRAPH, QUOTE and END QUOTE, OPEN PARENTHESIS and CLOSE PARENTHESIS, COLON, HYPHEN, QUESTION MARK, SEMICOLON. NEW LINE. Check the help tab of whatever app you use for more commands.

But generally, just talk. If the punctuation throws you, at least just say the period and commas. You need to edit afterwards anyway, so you can always add punctuation and formatting later. It’s more important to get the words into the computer.

!!! Scan the letters too so there is a copy of the actual letter.

You can also use this method to capture memories and stories. Just watch to be sure the app doesn’t stop recording if you pause to think.

And don’t forget to send them to me to add to the family collection.

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