Softnet Systems, Inc. Speech Recognition Specialists


Special Characters

Adding Special Characters to NaturallySpeaking

Many special symbols and characters are known to DNS. But you may need to add additional ones, or you may need to add them as part of a phrase.

Start by opening the manual and seeing if the work is already done for you! These are in the Commands List Appendix (characters in one place, some added symbols in another place), and about 120 uncommon characters are provided including many for Western European languages (e.g. the Icelandic thorn character “Þ”) and mathematics (e.g. “³” for “cubed”). Generally these are accessible by saying “spell” then the character name.

One means to enter a special character is to use the Windows Character Map and the Vocabulary Editor. First open the Windows Character Map (Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Character Map) and find the desired symbol. Select it with the mouse, then press the “Select” button, then press the “Copy” button. Then go to NaturallySpeaking, open the Vocabulary Editor, position the cursor in the “Written Form” box, and enter a Ctrl-v to “paste” the symbol into the Vocabulary Editor. Then use the tab character or mouse to move to the “Spoken Form” box and enter “degrees”, “degree sign”, “section sign”, or whatever you wish to say to cause the character to appear.

You may also wish to use the Vocabulary Editor Properties button to change the spacing attributes of such special characters.

Prior to Release 12 and DMPE2, this worked only when the special character was in the ANSI character set, comprising about 250 characters. See for a table of the less-frequently encountered ANSI characters.

Starting with Release 12 and DMPE2, this technique works with Unicode characters making it much more useful.


Changing Characteristics of Symbols, Words, and Phrases

Many changes for symbols, words, and phrases can be made using the Properties button in Vocabulary Editor.

If you need different formatting for the same symbol in different types of documents, define the symbol twice with different spoken forms. For instance, you can have “degree sign” and “degree symbol” as different spoken forms, formatted differently. For instance, one might have a leading space while the other would not.

For special formatting, VocEdit solves a few difficult problems if you always need to format particular words, punctuation marks, or phrases identically. You can control spacing before/after words/phrases, capitalization, and other attributes to a finer degree than with the Properties button in the Vocabulary Editor. To learn more about VocEdit, and to download it, see Joel Gould's web site.


Unicode Characters - Release 11 and earlier; DMPE

Starting with Release 12/DMPE2, Unicode characters are handled in the Dragon Vocabulary Editor. The following techniques are not needed for these more recent releases.

There are many other characters available in various type fonts. Most of these conform to the “Unicode” specification, which comprises over 80,000 characters for essentially all modern languages. A wide variety of special characters are also in the Unicode set.

First, see if the character is already defined to NaturallySpeaking. If the character is used in a modern Western European language, it is probably defined. See the User Guide Appendix, where there are 3 pages devoted to these special characters.

If not already defined, but you can produce the character from the Windows Character Map or copying the character from other text or other means, AND you need the character only in one type size, then create a Text & Graphics command to produce the character. Copy the character, then Tools/Add New Command, which defaults to Text & Graphics commands. Paste the character into the Text & Graphics command, name the command to correspond to the character, and save it. Do not make it a Plain Text command, as that will not work for most Unicode characters. This works in Preferred as well as the Pro products.

If you only need to produce the Unicode character in Word, there is another alternative with the Professional/Medical/Legal versions of DNS. This is better if you need to use the same symbol in a variety of type sizes. Find the (hex) value of the Unicode character from the Character Map. This will be a 4-character value nnnn. Then, create an Advanced Scripting macro (Pro/Medical/Legal only) of the form:

Sub Main
     Selection.InsertSymbol CharacterNumber:=&Hnnnn, Unicode:=True
End Sub

and name the command accordingly. A reference to the Microsoft Word Object Library must be added to this command. This will work within Word.

If you use lots of special characters, a visit to might be in order just to learn more about Unicode.


Using the Keyboard

Many special characters can be produced by holding the “Alt” key, followed by a three-digit numeric code on the numeric keypad. These codes are displayed in the Windows Character Map display when they are available.


Words with Special Characters, including Subscripts and Superscripts

To create and use words in Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, and DragonPad (or any other editor that supports Rich Text Format) that have subscript, superscript, or other special characters, create commands that allow dictation of the properly formatted word(s).

A drawback to this technique is that the word must be spoken as a command, that is, with a pause both before and after the word. But that is usually easier than going back after the fact and modifying the format.

A second drawback is that this must be done separately for each font or font size which you use.

  • Create the word in your word processor, including a leading space and a trailing space and the special characters.
  • Copy the word including the leading and trailing spaces.
  • Say “create new command” or else go to the Dragon Tools, Create New Command.
  • Name your command. That command can be the name of the word, or something such as “H two O”
  • Paste the formatted word into the “contents” portion of the MyCommands Editor window.
  • Save the command.


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