Dictate Your Writing with Google’s Voice Typing

Blue Snowball mic

by C.K. MacLeod

Dictation has become popular with writers who are interested in improving their writing productivity. Google recently introduced “voice typing” for Google docs, so writers can dictate their writing while on-the-go.

As a writer and editor with achy wrists from too much typing, tapping, and mousing, I decided to take voice typing for a spin.

From the get-go, Google Voice Typing is dead easy to use. Open Google Docs, go to the Tools menu, and click on Voice typing. An orange microphone icon pops up in the left menu bar. Click on the icon and begin speaking.

Google Voice Typing

Voice typing had no problems picking up my Canadian accent. In fact, I was surprised to discover that it produced far fewer pronunciation errors than I had expected. If there were any errors, they were mine.

I am, admittedly, less fluent when my writing is produced by mouth, instead of with my fingers. But I remember a time when keyboarding felt disfluent to me, so dictation may be a skill I can learn with practice.
Here’s my quick review of Google’s Voice typing:


  • Free for anyone who has a gmail account
  • Easy to use
  • Surprisingly accurate from the first use—at least for my Canadian accent
  • Cloud-based


  • Doesn’t recognize commands for open and closed quotes, ellipsis, and semicolon
  • No spoken editing commands (e.g., delete that, go to)
  • Works best with a decent quality mic (I use a Blue Snowball)
  • Potential privacy issues — who has access to your dictation?


If you’re a writer, and you want to give dictation a try, Google’s Voice typing is a nice, basic tool to begin with.

If you’re an editor who’s trying to ease your wrists, you could use Google’s Voice typing to write margin comments (which you can then feed into a text expander) or client emails, but you may prefer a dictation tool with editing features.

Not sure how to begin with voice dictation? See 5 Tips for Dictating Your Writing.

Do you use voice dictation? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Image by Vincent Diamente

4 thoughts on “Dictate Your Writing with Google’s Voice Typing”

  1. I just followed your instructions and you're right; Google Voice typing is super easy. I've been using Dragon Naturally Speaking for more than a decade and since I moved to an iMac three years ago, Dragon doesn't work as well even though I have their Mac program. I think Dragon is great for PC users but for Mac users, I would recommend Google Voice. Thanks for letting me know about it!

    1. Frances, I'm so glad to hear that Google Voice Typing is working for you. You can't get a simpler dictation tool. That's not to say that it will understand every dialect of spoken English, but it's worth trying to see if it's a fit.

      I'm surprised to hear that Google Voice Typing works better on a Mac than Dragon. I must investigate further. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. Does it keep the audio too? I am creating a multi-media experience and starting with writing the content has not worked for me. I want to start with audio, but I want to be able to use that audio and then transform it into a multi-media experience that combines some writing, visuals, video and the audio. I also want to keep the writing to turn into a book later on. Would this work? Or does it only produce a typed document? (I'm also worried about my Spanish accent, but I'll have to try it to know.) Thanks for letting us know of this great resource!!

    1. Maria,

      Google's Voice Typing converts spoken language into written text. That's all it does. You can then take that text and use it how you like. I think PowerPoint or Google Slides may be a better option for creating the multimedia experience you describe. You can insert images, text, and video, and both programs allow for audio narration. Best of luck!

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