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Now you can talk to Google Docs for text formatting and editing, here's how it works

Google has introduced a new feature for voice typing in Google Docs, which now lets users do formatting and editing commands by voice too. We checked out how it works.


Last year, Google added voice typing, integrated search and other features to Google Docs for desktop with support for over 40 languages. Now, the search engine giant has added further improvements to Google Docs voice typing, giving you more control over formatting and editing commands such as text selection, copy / paste, punctuation and more. We take a closer look at how to use voice typing, its commands and if it is easy to use.

Voice typing works across Google docs, sheets and slides and lets you compose a letter, capture ideas or jot down anything without having to touch your keyboard. To access the voice typing engine, head over to Tools > Voice Typing. It will bring a mic icon on the screen, just tap on this icon and start speaking.

After clicking on the mic button, you can start your dictation right away. For the mic to be able to recognize your voice accurately, make sure you speak closer to your laptop or desktop’s mic. Do note, if there is any kind of disturbance or ambient noise around you, the voice recognition may not work accurately.

How to use voice commands for formatting and editing in Google Docs

Say you want to make a list of stuff you want to buy from a supermarket. You can start by saying “Things to buy – apply heading one.” Next, say “new line” to enter and move on to the next line. If you want to put the stuff to buy in bullet list, simply say “Insert bullet list,” followed by something like “apples – next line,” “vegetables – next line,” “pulses – next line,” “red bull – next line,” which will add all the items in bullet list.

If you want to replace ‘red bull’ with ‘coke’, just say select ‘red bull’ and say ‘coke,’ which will automatically replace it. You can also format the documents by saying “select all” and then say “align center / left / right or justified.”

To apply text formatting, you can say “apply heading (1-6), bold, italics, strikethrough, text color, highlighting, background color (color) and remove background color among others. You can even say commands like “increase font size / decrease font size, make smaller, make bigger” etc.

You can even say commands “go to end of paragraph, start of paragraph, next or previous paragraph and much more.” You can find other list of commands here.

How well does it work?

We tried dictating using a headphone with mic and also using the laptop’s built-in mic. While it did recognize most of the speech, we had issues with the punctuation. The idea here is to save time by quickly speaking whatever you want to type and then edit the copy.

We tried most of the above commands such as bold, italics, insert bullets and numbers, which worked accurately, whereas we had to struggle for commands like adding and removing background color, copy and pasting, inserting punctuation, where we had to speak out the commands three to four times. In terms of accuracy, we found it to work almost 65 percent of times, and there’s still room for improvement.

To look at the demo, watch the video embedded below.

  • Published Date: February 25, 2016 5:24 PM IST