We all want to sound clear and intelligent when we dictate.  The reality is that, like all skills, dictating is something that you need to practise to be good at it.

Best Practises

From a medical transcriptionist’s perspective, the best dictators do the following:

    1. Speak clearly
    2. Speak at a reasonable speed
    3. Ensure there is no background noise
    4. Dictate from a landline’s handset, not a speaker phone
    5. Keep digital recorders from touching their lips or face when dictating
    6. Spell names/drugs using the phonetic alphabet where necessary (see https://www.2ascribe.com/articles/dictation-tips/using-the-nato-phonetic-alphabet)
    7. Give clear instructions, including:
      1. New paragraphs
      2. Indicate open quotes, close quotes, i.e. “xxx”
      3. Indicate open parenthesis, close parenthesis, i.e. (xxx)
      4. You can choose to dictate punctuation

And they’re organized and prepared.

Getting Started

Before you dictate, ensure 2Ascribe has your template.  It can be as simple or as detailed as you want.  Indicate margins, font type and size, how you want your sections formatted (e.g. capitalized or bolded) and if you want us to type your dictations verbatim, or do you want us to help “make you look good”. 

Before you begin to dictate:

  1.  Organize your notes, which includes identifying the following:
    1. Referring physician information including address and/or fax number
    2. Patient demographics
    3. Who to copy to on a report and how to send the report (mail or fax)
  2. Develop a template (you can have up to nine).  Most of your dictations will follow a pattern, either for a letter to a referring physician or a letter to a third party (e.g. WSIB).  Keep your template outline in front of you as you dictate; it will help to keep you organized.
  3. Learn how to use your dictation software or your digital recorder settings.  Try out your telephone dictation system before using it for a ‘live’ dictation.  Begin by saying that it is a test and to not transcribe it.  If you have any questions, contact our office.  Let us know you did a test dictation and we can give you feedback on the audio quality.
  4. Learn how to pause the system so you have time to organize your papers and thoughts as you move from one section of your dictation to another.  2Ascribe’s dictation system has a time out limit and you will be disconnected if you pause the system for more than 300 seconds (when on hold, you’ll hear a faint beep in the background).  If this happens, make sure you identify the next dictation as a continuation of a previous dictation and clearly state (and spell) the patient’s name again.


Consider reviewing some articles on dictating such as one on dictation commands at https://www.2ascribe.com/articles/dictation-tips/dictation-commands or one on proper pronunciation and word differentiation at https://www.2ascribe.com/articles/dictation-tips/proper-pronunciation-and-word-differentiation.  There are a number of articles on 2Ascribe.com to help you develop your dictating skills.

When you start dictating, state your name and location (if relevant), and what kind of report you are dictating, especially if you have more than one template.

If you have to interrupt a dictation, tell the transcriptionist that you will be completing the dictation in another file.  When you start the second half of your dictation, make sure you state at the beginning that this is Part II of a particular file.

When you’re finished dictating, say “End of dictation.  Thank you”.  It’s amazing how this simple act is appreciated. 

Ask for feedback.  And give feedback to our transcriptionists and editors.  The best way to do this is to print out the document and mark it up or highlight any changes you would like.  Fax (416-503-4043) or email (help@2ascribe.com) it to us at  so we have specific examples of how we can improve.

And most importantly remember, the better the quality of the dictation, the better the quality of the transcribed document.

Remember, you can listen to your dictations in WEBshuttle.  If we miss a word or a name, you can listen to help prompt you to figure out what it should have been.


2Ascribe Inc. is a medical and dental transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, providing medical transcription services to physician, specialists (including psychiatry, pain and IMEs), dentists, dental specialties, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada. Our medical and dental transcriptionists take pride in the quality of your transcribed documents. WEBshuttle is our client interface portal for document management. 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians, dentists and other healthcare providers, including AUTOfax. AUTOfax works within WEBshuttle to automatically send faxes to referring physicians and dentists when a document is e-signed by the healthcare professional. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians, dentists and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists, dental transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.  For more information on Canadian transcription services, dental transcription, medical transcription work or dictation options, please contact us at info@2ascribe.com.


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