Management Assistance Program

Microsoft Adds Transcription of Sound Files to Word 365 (August 27, 2020)

A powerful new feature added to Microsoft Word this week is the transcription of sound files into text. Speech-to-text apps are often used by lawyers. I get many questions from our members on speech recognition tools. Given how powerful the Microsoft Dictate tool is, this is likely both useful and powerful. I tested it briefly. Great accuracy. A great tool for many lawyers.

Here are a few examples of ways to use this.

  1. You walk out of a courtroom hearing. While you took notes of the judges ruling, there were several strategic ideas that came to mind. You pause on the courthouse lawn and dictate notes into your smart phone and then email it to the office whether you or your assistant transcribes the notes into a Word document with very little effort. The result is a nice file memo. You can correct any errors easily.
  2. You record a telephone discussion with a client or opposing party. When you transcribe this into a Word Document, you really appreciate the fact it recognizes the voice differences and breaks down comments by Speaker 1 and Speaker 2. Since it is in Word, it is simple to edit to identify the speakers by name. (or make any other corrections).

PRACTICE POINTERS — For transcriptions that may have evidentiary value, you will want to retain the original recording just in case someone claims the transcription is incorrect. It may be handy to note at the end of these transcriptions the name of the sound file and the location where it is stored on the network. (You might even want to rename the file with an easy to identify name.) For internal documents like that courthouse memo, once you have proofed the transcription, you will generally want to delete the original sound file. Otherwise you may end up with a lot of sound files stored on the network that are difficult to identify without listening to them.

I share two suggestions for reading to learn more about this, with one covering the “what” and one covering the “how to.”

Microsoft’s new Transcribe in Word feature is designed for students, reporters, and more

How to use Microsoft Word’s new ‘Transcribe’ tool