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Some Tips For Siri And iPhone 4S Dictation

(I originally wrote this article for users of Nuance’s Dragon Dictation app.  However, since the same engine is used for Siri and Dictation (the feature that lets iPhone 4S users speak text instead of typing it), we thought that we should update and republish it for the benefit of new iPhone 4S users.)


If you are the proud owner of a new iPhone 4S, it probably won’t belong before you dictate an email, text message, or something else using Siri or the new Dictation feature.   However, unlike the natural speech that Siri herself loves, Dictation needs a little bit of extra TLC in your speech to get everything exactly the way you want it.  So, when you are dictating text, remember to use these tips for improving the accuracy of your dictation.


First, in general, speak clearly and distinctly.   Dictation accuracy will drop if you are less than clearly enunciating your words.



Cap to capitalize a word: ‘I was shopping at cap Target”

Caps On for titles: “I was reading caps on The Washington Post”

All Caps to capitalize the next word: “Can we go now all caps PLEASE”

All Caps On and All Caps Off are Caps Lock: “This is all caps on NOT A JOKE all caps off so stop playing”

No Caps, No Caps On, and No Caps Off are the exact opposite of the above: “I like Amy and no caps amy”

Space Bar not only inserts a space, but can be used to prevent a hyphen in normally hyphenated words: ‘A long-lasting or long space bar lasting peace. ‘

No Space for words you want together: ‘Surf on the World no space Wide no space Web ‘ 

No Space On & No Space Off for words you want together: ‘I was running no space on reallyreallyfast no space off the entire time ‘

New Line starts the following text on a new line, and New Paragraph begins a new paragraph (effectively 1 and 2 carriage returns, respectively).



Say punctuation: period  comma  apostrophe  open-parenthesis  close-parenthesis  asterisk  open quote  close quote.   Note that you do not need to say apostrophe for possessive names such as ‘Joe ‘s ‘.

There is a difference between a hyphen — like this — and a dash-like this.  Similarly, point (in numbers) and period have spacing differences. 

Special symbols:  Note that many of these will automatically be placed in context, such as the dollar,cent, degree, percent, and at signs:

  • % – percent sign
  • © – copyright sign
  • ® – registered sign
  • § – section sign
  • $ – dollar sign
  • ¢ – cent sign
  • ° – degree sign
  • ^ – caret
  • @ – at sign
  • £ – pound sterling sign
  • # – pound sign


Note: You must use cent sign explicitly.  Saying ‘The price is fifty three cents ‘ will yield ‘The price is $.53 ‘.   Say ‘The price is fifty three cent sign‘ to get ‘The price is 53¢’ “.

Email addresses should generally be prefaced with no caps on; most common domains (such as Gmail, Yahoo, etc) are recognized, but you may have to spell others. 

Saying ‘www ‘ will result in the formatting of a URL: ‘www.isource.com/ ‘.  Oddly, unlike the desktop version, saying ‘http ‘ does not do the same thing in my testing.  I got ‘HDTV ‘ instead.


Hopefully this quick reference will help you make the most of Siri and Dictation.   Happy dictating!

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  • Ish

    You can also say “begin quote” and “end quote” if you need quotation marks

  • Caps

    Caps is my name. This will not work for me.

    • David Schloss

      You can actually get around this by changing the name it uses to refer to you. Say “Call me” followed by a new nickname.

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  • BrianPatrick

    You can also say “ellipsis” is you want Siri to output three consecutive dots like this: …

    • Ken

      I’m pretty sure you can say ‘dot dot dot’ as well.

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  • Mark

    I’ve found that the “new line” and “new paragraph” commands don’t work if you ask Siri to initiate an action (e.g., “Send an email to my sister.”), but they do work if you manually go to the email app, tap the icon to create a new email, and then tap the microphone to begin dictating the message. At least that’s the case on my 64Gb AT&T 4S. Hopefully Apple will fix that soon.

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  • I was going to make a wise crack like, “My name is apostrophe” but I’ll simply thank you for this post! Very helpful. I’ve had my 4S for all of 3 days and I’m stunned by how capable the Siri app is. Dictation is sometimes amazing in replication but the commands are virtually always spot on.

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  • josh ladlaw
  • Art

    So how do I get Siri to NOT translate a word into punctuation, such as in “I scored a goal in the third period of the hockey game”?

    • Chris

      Just do it. A good percentage of the time it will interpret it correctly

  • DK

    You can also say “smiley” for 🙂 and “winky” for 😉

    • tracey

      me thinks you are having a laugh!!! winky especially did not work, just caused lots of hilarity. exclaimation mark.

      • Nets

        No, it really does work— just not with emojis! For instance, say “smiley face” and you’ll get 🙂

  • David

    I have the iPhone 4s and tried my first email dictation today. Being new at this, I did not know how to end the sentence with a period, or start a new line, do caps for names, etc. This post has saved the day. Thank you for providing a very useful listing of common dictation commands for when using the dictation feature. Thanks again! Next I need to explore using Siri. This is my first iPhone, and I am very pleased so far.

  • Katie

    what about a ( or a )? everytime I ask her to put one in, she spells out the word instead. Ideas?

    • Dan the IT Man

      say “Open parenthesis” and close.

  • Joe Tomasone

    You have to remember that these tips are not intended for Siri herself – but for when you dictate text into an email or other document with the microphone icon. “Open Parenthesis” and “Close Parenthesis” work just fine when dictated into an email, for example.

  • Mike Scarcella

    How do I mak siri recognize numbers. When she

    hears number 7 she writes number seven instead of

    7. Thanks

    • David

      To dictate numbers, use Numeral. For instance the number 7, say ‘Numeral 7’ and for 2012, say ‘Numeral twenty twelve’.

  • paul martin

    I need help with Siri dictation I talk into the mic but nothing happens how do I fix this. I tried going through the setting but can’t find anything that helps. Can anyone help with this.

  • Donna

    How do I get Siri to spell out words that are punctuation. For instance, if I want the word quotation she gives me” if I want the word “period”, she gives me the punctuation mark so how do I get around that?

  • Christopher

    Just to note, the dictation can also be used for “plus sign”, “minus sign”, “multiplication sign” and “division sign”. I don’t think this works for anything besides basic math functions.

    • Christopher

      Also, times work for this too.

      “Five colon thirty” becomes 5:30
      “Five thirty PM” becomes 5:30 PM

      Kind of random, but useful nonetheless.

  • Ashrakay

    Does anyone know how to get dates to insert. E.g., saying the 7th of April is writing “the seventh of April”? Thanks.

  • Ben


    Does anyone else have trouble getting Siri to recognize and spell your name appropriately when dictating? She knows my name, so that’s not the issue, but then sounds an awful lot like then, them, been, Dan…

    So, when I want to sign an email


    … I have to go back and change the spelling of my name every single time. Thoughts, anyone?

  • Ben

    Case in point!

    I dictated that post above (thanks to many of you for tips) and it misspelled my own name as “then” in the middle of the post.

    Ideas? Thanks!

  • Phil

    This doesn’t work with Mountain Lion’s Dictation

  • Anna

    Whenever I try to Say cap something or caps off something it just types it in for me, so like “I love cap Grace.” it types out everything I say …

  • Horst

    I have a German accent and Siri mis-spells my english all the time. Is Siri not for me? Or can it be tweaked?

  • xstitchnan

    Thanks for this info!!! Exactly what I was looking for!

  • This is a great list. I’ve become more and more addicted to using Siri, and this is tremendously helpful. Thanks for taking the time to compile it.

  • Angie

    Thanks for all that. Very useful. One thing I can’t figure out, though, is how to write the word ‘comma’ or ‘period’ (or any other punctuation or command). If I want to say, “That needs a comma” then I get “That needs a,”. Saying “A long period of time” results in “A long. Of time”. With the command function, I said “NOTE Note that this is very important” but I just got “This is very important”. Do you know a way around this? Thanks again. 🙂