You can annotate existing Sound objects and sound files (LongSound objects).
The labelling data will reside in a TextGrid object. This object is separate from the sound, which means that you will often see two objects in the list: a Sound or LongSound, and a TextGrid.
You create a new empty TextGrid from the Sound or LongSound with Sound: To TextGrid... or LongSound: To TextGrid... from the Annotate menu (which shows up in the Objects window if you select a Sound or LongSound). In this way, the time domain of the TextGrid will automatically equal that of the sound (if you choose Create TextGrid... from the New menu instead, you will have to supply the time domain by yourself).
When you create a TextGrid, you specify the names of the tiers. For instance, if you want to segment the sound into words and into phonemes, you may want to create two tiers and call them "words" and "phonemes" (you can easily add, remove, and rename tiers later). Since both of these tiers are interval tiers (you label the intervals between the word and phoneme boundaries, not the boundaries themselves), you specify "phonemes words" for Tier names, and you leave the Point tiers empty.
You can edit a TextGrid object all by itself, but you will normally want to see the sound in the editor window as well. To achieve this, you select both the Sound (or LongSound) and the TextGrid, and click View & Edit. A TextGridEditor will appear on your screen. Like the Sound editor, the TextGrid editor will show you a spectrogram, a pitch contour, a formant contour, and an intensity contour. This editor will allow you to add, remove, and edit labels, boundaries, and tiers. Under Help in the TextGridEditor, you will find the TextGridEditor manual page. You are strongly advised to read it, because it will show you how you can quickly zoom (drag the mouse), play (click a rectangle), or edit a label (just type).
You will normally write the TextGrid to disk with Save as text file... or Save as short text file.... It is true that Save as binary file... will also work, but the others give you a file you can read with any text editor.
However you saved it, you can read the TextGrid into Praat later with Read from file....
© ppgb, January 29, 2011