Making dictated changes in typed documents

Transcribing dictated corrections, deletions, and/or additions to a typed document can be more daunting than typing it from scratch.

If you are a transcriptionist, below are some suggestions to help make your job easier: NOTE: These suggestions can be useful even if you are the one dictating changes to your own document,

1 – To keep track of each Draft or Version, be sure to save each version or draft as a separate file. At the top of each draft or version, type Draft #1 or Version #1 centered in bold print just under the title of the document. IMPORTANT: Do this before you begin making any changes.

2 – Rename each draft or version until the FINAL draft. Below is an example of how you might name Draft #1 or Version #1 of this procedure using Word:

Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents D#1.docx


Procedures for making dictated changes in typed documents V#1.docx

Name the next version the same name changing only the number to #2, #3, etc. until the final draft. Either name it FINAL Draft or leave out the Draft version completely leaving only the file name.

Once the final version is complete and approved, you can delete the prior saved drafts/versions.

3 – Double or triple space each draft of the document to allow room for your customer to write in their changes. When you’re all through transcribing the changes and the final document has been approved, you can change the spacing back to either single or 1.5. I would suggest you check with the person dictating the changes first and ask if they would like the draft copies of the document be double or triple spaced.

6 – Ask the person dictating to give you the following information before they begin dictating the changes:

a – Page number

b – Paragraph number on the page. They could also identify a paragraph by saying, “The paragraph that begins with (word or words).”

c – Line number in the paragraph.

d – The sentence – ask them to state a word or two at the beginning of the sentence where the change is to be made to help you find it.

e – Ask them to please repeat the sentence as it is NOW supposed to read AFTER the change(s) has been dictated so you’re sure you didn’t delete something you shouldn’t have or that you DID delete the correct word(s) and type in the changes correctly. This is especially important when making many changes in the same paragraph.

Example: Page two, second paragraph beginning with the word (word), third line, the sentence that begins with (the word).

7 – When the person dictating gives you a word or two to identify the paragraph or sentence, you may be able to use the Find feature to go right to the exact place in the sentence to make the change(s). NOTE: This will only work correctly if you are given two to three words to identify the exact place where the change is to be made. Using the Find feature can save a lot of time.

8 – Ask the person dictating to please pronounce the words clearly. Many people who talk fast or have an accent don’t realize it’s much harder to make the correct changes and/or corrections if they don’t speak slowly. Words and/or letters that sound alike can easily be misunderstood when a person speaks too fast.

9 – If from time to time a word is spelled out and if the first letter in the word is one of the letters that sound alike, b, c, d, e, g, p, t, and z, ask the person dictating to use that letter in a word. Example: A as in apple, B as in boy, C as in Charles, D as in David, etc. If they don’t make the first letter clear so you can make out the entire word, you could find yourself backspacing over and over to figure out what that word is.

10 – As the person dictating is going through the document page by page, if they skip to another paragraph and/or another page, ask that they clearly identify where the next change is.

Example: “The next five paragraphs are okay. There are no changes. Skip to Page six, paragraph #2 that begins with the words ‘There are’, Line #3 and the Sentence that begins with the word ‘Although’.”

11 – If the entire sentence or paragraph is to be deleted, they should make this very clear as well as when they want something added i.e. “Right after the word(s) (words), add this….” or “Delete the rest of the paragraph.” Then they should restate the sentence or paragraph exactly as it should read now (after the changes).

12 – If one or more sentences in a paragraph are to be switched around with no changes, the NEW order they want the sentences placed in should be clearly stated FOLLOWED by restating the paragraph as it should now read (after the changes). The same applies if they switch paragraph order or the order of words in the same sentence. These changes can be very confusing if they are not stated clearly.

13 – In order to ensure these procedures are followed, type a list of the procedures to give to the person dictating. Be sure you let them know that by following these procedures, you will be able to finish the changes and/or corrections much faster and accurately.

14 – Below is a list of directions to suggest to the person dictating to help ensure the correct changes are made:

“Take out everything after…….”

“End that paragraph with…….”

“Continue with….”

“Go on with…..”

“The rest of the paragraph (or sentence) is the same.”

“Underline, bold, italicize, highlight, etc. the words (words)……”

“Switch sentence #1 with #4. I want the last sentence to now be the first sentence and the last sentence to now be the first sentence.”

The next three features are optional. However, when you have long document, it can make your job much easier if you learn to use these features. If you don’t already know how to turn on these features, search the Help in your version of Word or other word processing program for instructions on how to turn these features on or off.

15 – Use the Track Changes feature in Word to track and compare the versions in your document.

16 – Use the Strikeout or Strikethrough feature for text you want to delete. Using this feature, the program will draw a red line through (Strikethrough) the word(s) to be deleted while leaving the word visible for editing/proofing purposes until the Strikeout (word to be deleted) has been approved. If you erroneously used this feature or the person dictating changed their mind, the feature can be turned off returning the word(s) back to normal.

17 – Immediately after NEW text that is to replace deleted text (Strikeouts), the new text should be Highlighted (Red Lined) by changing the text color to Blue (or some other color that stands out) or bolding it to make it stand out. This will clearly indicate that the text to be deleted will be replaced by the text in Blue.

Example: Strikethrough. Red Line

Once your changes have been approved, you can go back and delete the word to be deleted and change the NEW text to the correct font color.


NOTE: This article is one small part of one of the chapters in each of my two books to be published late in 2016 or early 2017; Dictation Transcription Tips, Tricks, Secrets and Shortcuts and How to Establish, Build and Run a $ucce$$uful Secretarial Service From Home.

I hope my tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts help you improve your skills and/or work smarter and more efficiently.

If you have a question regarding dictation transcription or how to run your own secretarial service from home, let me know.

Send me your comments, suggestions, and/or questions in the comments section below. Be sure to include your name, email address, and clearly state the issue.

Be sure to drop by again. Each week, I’ll be posting more tips, tricks, secrets, and shortcuts.

Gail S. Kibby White

Food for thought: “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” (Norman Vincent Peale)

Please leave me your comments. If you have a suggestion or a question, I'll get back to you soon. Thank you for you interest. Gail