Tips for using your phone as a dictation device

Using your phone as a recording or dictation device is smart, just like the apps and programs that are on it. Recording audio with your smartphone isn’t always straightforward and although mobile phones have advanced a lot over the last few years the microphone on the device haven’t generally changed that much, with mobile manufacturers focusing the efforts on better cameras, application or software speed as their main features.

Below are our top tips to get better audio recording on your mobile device:

1. Remove distractions from your phone

Your smartphone is a multi-functional device, it distracts us from every day conversations with people, keeps us informed as to the latest news and connected with our family and friends.

It is important that you are not distracted when making a recording, think how distracting it is when your instant messenger goes off when you are out with friends, in the cinema or a meeting, it is human nature to look a it, so it is important to ensure that it does not intrude upon your recording, with shrill notifications, or break your flow of conversation.

So before you press the record button, turn your off your phones capabilities to take messages or to make calls. Switching to airplane mode should do the trick!

2.       Know Your Surroundings

Before you start recording, stop and look (and listen to) your surroundings, is there anything that could distract you or that could be easily picked up by a microphone. For example I am sat writing this blog and my two dogs are in the room with me eating bones. If I was to be recording this as dictation instead of typing it, you would be able to hear them chomping and munching away.

What you could do is take a short recording sample of the room you are in and listen to the recording to check the sound quality

3. Use an external microphone

To ensure that you maximise your chances of capturing all of your audio it is recommended that you use an external microphone which can be inserted into the earphone socket of your smart phone device.  It is even better if the microphone that use is one that can be attached to your lapel as it will ensure that everything is caught if you move around.

Transcription and Subtitles


There are lots of reasons why a television programme or film that you are watching has subtitles.

It might be a World film or foreign language film that has been translated and subtitled. It might be a mainstream programme that is subtitled for the hearing impaired and even a specialist programme, where participants speak in heavily accented or dialectal English.

YouTube, the world’s most popular video-sharing website where almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day [1], offers an auto-captioning service. The captions are created by generated by machine-learning algorithms, and so the accuracy and the quality of the captions vary. [2]

“Automatic captions are available in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.”

Subtitle Fail

There are obviously going to be times when subtitles fail, due to human error or lack of sophisticated algorithms.

Human error – whether that be spelling, unfamiliarity with the subject, mishearing or lack of concentration – can lead to a subtitle fail. This is especially amusing when subtitles are used to capture a sound, an action or an emotion, where dialogue is not involved. [3]

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Other fails happen where the subtitles don’t match what is happening on the screen. This occurs when the typist is not checking that the subtitles matches the action.

Famous characters or franchises can suffer at the hands of subtitling when then typist is unfamiliar with the person, character, plot, subject or series.

sergei lavrov
Talking about Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Russia [5]
Harry Potter’s owl, Hedwig [4]
Benedict Cumberbatch, also known as Sherlock Holmes [6]
 Here is a selection of screen shots from movie subtitle fails.

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 Sensible Subtitles

Fingertips Typing Services uses a workforce of experienced and accurate typists to offer a subtitling service for a wide variety of media:

We have worked on subtitling projects for a variety of media and production companies, who commission television shows, films and projects.


Visit Fingertips Typing Services today to see how we help you subtitle your media project.

Written by: Debbie Rowe, Typist for Fingertips Typing















Transcription and Oral Histories

Is there a tradition or a story that has been handed down the generations in your family? It’s not written down anywhere,  just been told, from one person to another. There must be some truth in it somewhere but it’s been added to and embellished, blurred and reimagined through time.

This telling and retelling is as old as language itself. Since Man began to form words, stories are told to the young as warnings, as lessons, as bedtime tales. Before we could write, things were passed on verbally, and still it happens today. Indigenous tribes across the world have historically passed their knowledge and experiences along the familial lines through verbal accounts and rememberings. Continue reading Transcription and Oral Histories