Knowing how to type quickly on a keyboard is a valuable skill in an age where computers are used on a daily basis. Younger generations born with a mouse in their hands will learn to type quickly before they leave school while the older generations will probably make it up as they go along.
These older generations are often thought of as being detached from modern technologies and a large number of the oldest generations lack both the hardware and skills to get themselves connected.
Did you know that in order to type quickly, you’ll have to use all ten fingers?
However, typing speed doesn’t just boil down to how quickly you can type characters. Typing skills include being able to effectively using a word processor (like Word or OpenOffice) as well as mastering keyboard shortcuts and making as few errors as possible.
Just like in the golden age of typewriters, typing is an art form. And just like with all arts, learning to type quickly is a skill that requires a lot of effort and perseverance.
With that in mind, Superprof is here to bring you some useful tips for those who want to learn how to type faster. However, it's not just about doing typing tests and fast typing through muscle memory, you have to be able to type everything with a high degree of accuracy and without making a mistake!
Have a Good Posture in Order to Improve Your Typing
How many of you are still using two fingers to hunt and peck and only managing five or six words per minute (wpm)?
To learn to type on a computer keyboard, there’s no big secret: you firstly need to be sitting correctly.
If you’re not sitting correctly for long periods of time and looking for different letters, characters, and accents, you can do a lot of damage. A bad posture can cause back pain, muscle fatigue, skeletal muscle problems like tendinitis and tenosynovitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
In order to learn to type a text as quickly as possible with both your hands, here’s how you should sit when you type every letter:
Sit in a well-lit and well-ventilated area
Type on a desk, never on your lap or while lying in bed
Sit with a straight back with your feet on the floor
Your feet need to be lined up with your shoulders and your legs parallel
Your wrists need to be at the same height as the keyboard so that you can bend your fingers easily
Make sure you’re breathing well and pushing out your rib cage
Push your head and shoulders back so that your back isn’t arched
Tense your abs when breathing out so that your stomach remains flat
Make sure your chair is at the right height
To type more quickly, you’ll have to get used to your keyboard. English computers use the popular “qwerty” layout (named after the first 5 characters on the top row). Since there are no accents in English (except a few loanwords like café, cliché, etc.), there are no accent keys on our keyboards.
If you're English, then you're probably using a qwerty keyboard without accents. This means that if you have to type in other languages, you’ll have to get a different keyboard or learn some shortcuts. This is more difficult than having a dedicated key. Of course, if you only type in English, then your keyboard layout will be fine and you can always use the shortcut.
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You’ll need to firstly be able to type without looking at your hands.
A music teacher will tell beginners the same thing when playing the piano: you need to focus on the sheet music rather than looking at your hands. Learning how to type is the same; your typing will improve by correcting the mistakes you make on the screen.
Before you’re able to do that, you’ll need to get used to the keyboard and where to place your fingers.
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Position Your Fingers and Memorise the Locations of the Keys
As we said before, English keyboards have the “qwerty” layout.
Did you learn that at school?
The reason this layout exists is because when typewriters were first being developed, they needed to keep the metal arms from jamming with one another by keeping regularly used letters apart from one another. While this is no longer a problem, the layout stuck and people are very unwilling to try other layouts.
The letters were therefore placed in this order rather than in alphabetical order. If you want to learn to type quickly, you’ll need to improve your dexterity and “lock” your hands since your fingers are going to find the keys, your hands shouldn’t move.
Your fingers will sit over the home row keys (from the a to ; keys).
Here are the rules for where your fingers should be:
Left index finger on F
Left middle finger on D
Left ring finger on S
Left pinky on A.
Right index on J
Right middle finger on K
Right ring finger on L
Right pinky on ;
Both thumbs should be on the Space Bar.
As soon as you start, you should already have 8 letters memorised.
Each finger has an area where it operates:
Left pinky: 1, q, a, z, \, ctrl, shift, caps lock, tab, and `
Left ring finger: 2, w, s, x, and the Windows button
Left middle finger: 3, e, d, c
Left index: 4, r, f, v, 5, t, g, b
Left thumb: Space Bar and Alt
The right hand operates as follows:
Right pinky: Enter, backspace, =, ], #, -, [, ‘, 0, p, ;, /
Right ring finger: 9, o, l, .
Right middle finger: 8, i, k, comma.
Left index: 7, u, j, m, 6, y, h, n
Left thumb: Space Bar and AltGr
Start by writing words without looking at the keyboard and saying the letters aloud as you type them. This will help your memory.
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Learn to Type Quickly without Looking at the Keyboard
Typing without looking and using the keyboard shortcuts can help you save a lot of time. You’ll soon be typing faster and faster.
Start by quickly glancing at the letters in a word and then start typing while looking at the screen. The rest should come naturally if your hands are in the right place. There’s not much more to it than that when it comes to typing as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve memorised where the keyboard’s keys are and feel comfortable typing, you should make sure that you practise frequently. It’s just like learning to play an instrument or speaking another language.
Any activity, no matter what it is, can be learnt quicker by using a method known as spaced repetition. You need to practice the difficult parts more often than the easy parts.
Once you’re comfortable with your keyboard and can type at a reasonable pace, you should start looking around. For example, you could close your eyes or look away and find the raised bar on the J and F keys. You can then start copying a text to practise.
Typing “blindly” will quickly help you to memorise the position of the keys and speed up the whole process. As you type more and more, the locations of the keys will become second nature to you. Without even looking at the keyboard, your fingers will naturally gravitate to the right place.
This isn’t the time to rest on your laurels. If you speak more than one language, it might be the time to familiarise yourself with other keyboard layouts. Try different games to type more quickly.
Or, you could sign up for programming courses to build dexterity in using numbers and symbols!
Would you like to learn touch typing and other methods and become an expert typist?
You can look for sites with free typing activities.
Here are a few free typing games and online typing activities you can do in order to practise your typing:
Listen to the radio and type out everything you hear.
Go to the site typingstudy.com: there are touch typing lessons with a digital keyboard, finger positioning, and statistics for keeping track of your progress.
Sense-lang.org: this site is dedicated to teaching you how to type fast with games.
Keybr: you can use this site to do a typing test and evaluate your speed.
Do you feel comfortable typing using both PCs and Macs now? If not, you can also learn to touch type with the help of a typing tutor.
Why not test yourself: copy a newspaper article into a word processor and time yourself.
How many words per minute did you manage? Keep doing your typing practice and you'll soon learn to type faster and more accurately.