Dictation Speech-to-Text Apps Vs. Transcription

Dictation and transcription are commonly mistaken for the same thing. However, that is far from the truth. Dictation is the process of speaking or dictating information, often to a device. Transcription involves listening to an audio recording and accurately transcribing the spoken words into a written document. Dictation and transcription services have different purposes in professional settings, and knowing which to use when can be greatly beneficial for businesses. 

In this article, you’ll learn how: 

  • Transcription means converting speech to text through either automated or manual means. Dictation is speaking into a recording device or app to be listened to or transcribed in the future. 
  • Speech recognition software is often incorporated into dictation apps for real-time transcription. 
  • Professional, human-powered transcription is the best choice for transcribing audio files and other recordings into immediately usable transcripts.

Difference Between Dictation And Transcription

Dictation is the process of speaking or dictating information, while transcription is the process of converting spoken language into written form. To illustrate the point, here are their key factors and differences. 

FeatureDictationTranscription
CreationSpeaking words aloud in real-timeConverting existing audio/video recordings
PurposeTaking notes, drafting, remindersPermanent record, sharing, accessibility
TimingIn real-timeAfter recording
FormattingNoneTime stamps, speaker labels, specific formatting
Software FeaturesVoice commands, editingPlayback control, accuracy tools

Key differences:

  • Timing: Dictation happens in real-time, while transcription occurs after a recording. 
  • Accuracy: Transcription often requires greater accuracy and attention to detail due to its potential use as a legal or medical record.
  • Formatting: Transcription often involves adding timestamps, speaker labels, and formatting for readability and referencing.
  • Software: The best dictation software often has voice recognition and editing features, while transcription software focuses on playback control and accuracy.

Disadvantages of Dictation Apps

Dictation and transcription software that use speech recognition have their uses. However, to be sure they are right for your application, you must be aware of their limitations. 

CategoryDisadvantageImpact
AccuracySpeech recognition errorsMisinterpreted words, incorrect meaning, extra editing needed.
Limited vocabularyStruggles with technical jargon or domain-specific terms.
Punctuation & formatting issuesRequires manual correction, slows down workflow.
Privacy & SecurityData collectionPrivacy concerns and potential data breaches.
Cybersecurity vulnerabilitiesUnauthorized access risks and sensitive data compromise.
Technical LimitationsBackground noiseReduced accuracy and frustrating errors.
Offline functionalityRequires internet connection, limits usage.
Battery drainQuick battery depletion.
Workflow DisruptionsFocus & interruptionRambling, disorganized thoughts.
Revision complexityEdit complexity exceeds typing and editing.
Accessibility limitationsLess accessible for hearing impairments or visual preference.

Transcription Vs. Dictation Software: When To Use And Why

Here’s a quick summary to figure out if dictation or transcription is appropriate for your needs: 

UsageWhen to Use
Dictation• Ideal for professionals dictating memos, emails, letters, or reports.

• Useful for individuals who have difficulty typing, or don’t have time to type and edit for themselves.
Transcription• To create an accurate written record of audio or video files like interviews, lectures, or meetings.

• Used for legal records, medical notes, interviews, podcasts, lectures, business meetings, earnings calls, or anything that requires official or professional transcripts. 

• Necessary when content involves multiple speakers or complex terminology.

• Used for making content accessible to those with hearing impairments or who prefer reading.

Transcription is preferable when looking for accurate, permanent records accessible to everyone who needs them. Dictation is excellent for note-taking and reminders to be transcribed later. 

For example, doctors can save time dictating their patients’ notes instead of taking them in real-time. Real estate agents can dictate as they survey a house instead of scribbling notes. However, voice dictations must still be converted into physical or digital medical documentation. 

So, let’s talk about your options for getting transcription work done. 

Can I Assign Transcription Work To My Employees?

You can assign transcription tasks to your clerks, admins, or clinic assistants for different businesses. Everyone can use a keyboard—it’s practically a life skill these days. Many people can even be called typists. You can transcribe your own dictations, and your employees can do the work you originally hired them to do.

Here’s the question, though: is transcription the real reason why you hired them in the first place? 

You remove key human resources from your core business functions by assigning dictated recordings to your employees for transcription. Transcription is essential—there is no question about that. However, assigning your people to that task might not be the most cost-efficient way. 

How About Hiring In-House To Transcribe Dictations And Recordings?

Another option is to hire a transcriptionist or a whole team to work on your audio recordings. However, there might be better options. 

In-house transcription is time-consuming and costly. The business needs to spend money finding and hiring competent transcriptionists (which can take up to 24 days and cost upwards of $10,000 for the search), provide a decent salary and benefits package (which can cost up to $60,000 a year for salary alone), supply them with the necessary equipment (which may cost up to $2,000 each, depending on the quality of the equipment), and provide continuous training and development so that their skills do not stagnate. 

How About Voice Recognition Software or Speech-To-Text Transcription Software?

Artificial intelligence can transcribe audio files; the best speech-to-text dictation apps often include the feature. With some apps, it’s often as simple as pressing the microphone icon and watching the words get written on your screen. So why don’t the best transcription services use them? 

The issue lies with accuracy. Transcription services that use AI software suffer from transcription errors because automated transcription can only reach 86% accuracy without human intervention. 

Applications that transform spoken words into documents are popular dictation transcription options. They’re pretty good, but you’ll quickly realize how frustrating they can be once you’ve dictated a critical letter into a dictation transcription application. While some software might recognize most of your words, the app can still surprise you with punctuation in odd places, butchered professional jargon, and unusable formats.

Simply put, you cannot use AI to transcribe everything. 

Medical transcription services must offer near-perfect transcripts every time. Medical terminology can make it hard for automated transcription to produce accurate transcripts. That’s why certified medical transcriptionists are preferred. 

Legal transcription is often used in court cases. Walking up to the judge and presenting error-filled transcripts and legal documents is a great way to lose cases and potentially send your client to jail.

Why Outsource To Human Transcription Services

Professional dictation transcription services that employ human transcriptionists are your best option when the correspondence and documents you produce are crucial to your reputation. Your documents are often your first line of interaction with the public. They tell people who and what you are and what you do. You want them to be accurate, attractive, and just as professional as you are.

A human transcriber might not recognize your words the first time you say them, but unlike a program or application, they can replay them and ensure they get them right. You can spell out complicated words; a transcriber will spell them exactly as you ask.

You can tell a professional dictation transcription service provider the punctuation and formatting you need—period, quotation marks, paragraph breaks, and everything in between. 

FeatureManual TranscriptionAutomated Transcription
AccuracyHigh (99%+)Low (up to 86%)
Speed2 – 4 hoursInstant
CostMediumLow
Human expertiseYesNo
Use casesBusiness, legal, medical, academicBasic transcription tasks
Ideal forProjects that require high accuracyProjects that need quick turnaround times

Stop Yelling At Your Phone And Get Ditto’s Best Transcription Services Instead

Transcription services rely on accuracy, making automated typing software not the best choice. 

Dictation apps are free, easy to use, and they’re everywhere. And sure, convenience is important—but it’s no substitute for quality and accuracy. 

Get accurate, quality, and professional transcription services when you work with Ditto Transcripts. We’ll take dictations, audio recordings, and video content and create accurate, crystal-clear transcripts that can be used in any professional or business setting. Additionally, we offer flexible and affordable pricing options, customizable formats, fast turnaround times, and excellent customer service. 

So what are you waiting for? Call us, or sign up for our free trial and experience the Ditto difference. 

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA-compliant and CJIS-compliant Denver, Colorado-based transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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