Complete Guide to Typing on QWERTY Keyboards

Typing is an art that can be mastered with some practice. Dedicate some time on it, and you can master touch-typing (typing without looking at the keyboard) quite fast. As a writer or blogger, ability to type faster places you at a great advantage, as we will see. Here is your complete guide to typing on a QWERTY keyboard (our normal keyboard).

Advantages of Typing Fast

1. Do you have the experience of typing something into a text box (blog entry or comment for instance), while poring over the keyboard to find the appropriate keys, all to find at last that you actually didn’t type anything at all since the caret was off the text box? When you type looking at the keyboard trying to find keys, your attention is wholly on that, wasting a lot of time. What if you can type without looking at the keyboard at all?

2. Typing without looking at the keyboard saves a lot of time, since you can concentrate on what you are typing rather than take trouble finding the correct keys. Moreover, looking at the keyboard, you may never go above 20 wpm (Words Per Minute), while touch-typing can get you above 100 wpm.

3. An average person’s typing speed ranges from 20–30 wpm. But a professional typist stays above fifty and is in a constant path of increase of the speed. While a non-typist may require one hour to type a thousand-word article, a fast typist takes only fifteen minutes, excluding the time for research and thought process, which is the same for both. Imagine how much time you can really save this way.

4. When you learn typing, you automatically improve on your spelling. Since touch-typing practice requires you to type the correct letters each time, your practice on it will improve your spelling a lot. And being able to spell correctly is a big step in vocabulary building.

These are the main advantages of being able to type faster. The most important advantage, still, is the improvement in time, and I don’t need to stress the importance of time.

My Story

During the first days of my blogging, when I had a less popular blog, writing an article was a torture to me, since most of the time I had to pore over the keyboard to find the correct keys. I used to work in the nights with only my computer turned on. The dim light of the monitor helped me find the keys; you can imagine the kind of trouble I had at that time, and I think most of you undergo a similar trouble.

Those days were highly unproductive to me. I could never finish a decent article in a reasonable time, and the editing would be double cumbersome. At a meager speed of 20 to 30 WPM, I took almost one hour or more just to type the complete article, while now it takes a meager ten minutes.

When I first learned typing, my speed was at first minimal, and then it rose to a whopping 70 wpm within two months from my original 30.

Typing Software

There are several typing programs available to you to download free. They come packed with the lessons and practice text you can use to practice your typing. While you are typing, the program will alert you of any mistakes and will guide you through the steps to be a faster typist.

When I decided to learn typing, I downloaded Typing Master, which is available as a free download. It’s a wonderful piece of software that can get you to type really well. It’s free version itself is quite powerful. If you pay for the full version, you will get lessons and practice material for numbers, special keys, and a more practice material for the lessons available in the free version. However, you can be a great typist with its free version itself, if you practice well.

Touch-typing Lessons

Though typing software can teach you the art quite fast, it’s not a requirement. If you just follow the rules and practice enough, you can be a great typist.

Rules of Typing

Here are the basic rules of typing.

1. Home row: The row in the middle of the keyboard, with characters A to " is the home row. You start your typing from this row, and move the fingers to the rows above and below to type a particular letter. Place your index fingers on keys F and J; noticed a projection on both of them? I am sure you are surprised that you have never noticed it before. These projections are your guides—letting you come back to the home row after each keystroke.

Place your small fingers on keys A and "; place ring fingers on S and L; place middle fingers on D and K; and both the thumbs on the space bar. That’s it, the configuration is over. Every time you type a new key, your fingers should come back to this configuration.

2. Type the letters above the home row with respective fingers. That is, type Q and P with your left small finger, E and I with your middle fingers, and so on. R and T should be typed with the left index finger, and Y and U with the right.

3. Type the letters below the home row with the respective fingers, just as above. Z and / with your small fingers, . (period) and X with your ring fingers, and so on. V and B are typed with left index finger, and N and M with right.

4. The keys, P, [, ], \, and ? are reached by right small finger.

5. The left and right index fingers type G and H respectively.

6. Numbers: On left hand, 1 with small, 2 with ring, 3 with middle, and 4 and 5 with index. On the right hand, 6 and 7 with index, 8 with middle, 9 with ring, and 0 with small. However, if you find it inconvenient to type 6 with right index finger, you can use the left for that.

7. You should use only one thumb to type the space key all the time. Choose whichever is convenient to you.

8. When you type capital letters, both hands should contribute to it. You have to type the letter and hold down the shift key. When doing this, type the letter with the finger assigned to it, and hold the shift key with the small finger on the other hand. For instance when typing capital A, hold shift key with right index finger and type as you would do normally.

9. On the keypad on the right, you can type numbers easily. You can find a projection similar to the ones on F and J, on 5. Place your middle finger on five, index finger on 4 and ring on 6, and thumb on 0. Now just graze to the keys above and below this row with appropriate key and type it. For instance, 7 and 1 with index finger, and so on.

10. Special characters such as !, @, #, etc., should follow the rule of numbers, with the shift key held down with the other hand’s small finger.

Those were the rules of touch-typing. Read them allover again and keep them in your mind. You can start typing practice now. To practice typing, just take a magazine or piece of article and type the contents on to your favorite word processor or the notepad application.

Speed Building Tips

You may not see the results right away. You may even find it cumbersome to type with these rules when you first practice them. You may feel that they are difficult to follow and be inclined to come back to your poring-over-keyboard sort of typing. Hold yourselves; only when you follow these rules can you be a fast, comfortable typist. Practice, practice, and practice for the best results. Here are the tips to build your speed.

1. Devote time for typing practice every day. You may just allot two hours from your leisure time for this great investment, and in a month, you will be a fast typist. Type all your assignments with these rules and never even try to come back to your old style, even if you find your speed to be less.

2. Type accurately. Do not try to achieve great speed relinquishing your accuracy. If you have to go slower to type accurately, do so. Accuracy is more important than speed. I assure you, if you try irrationally to achieve speed, then both your accuracy and speed will not grow. So, first accuracy then speed. Remember, Haste makes it all waste! If you concentrate on accuracy, speed will come automatically and that will be far greater than your expectation.

I concentrated on my speed on the first days and couldn’t get my errors under control. This cost me a lot in speed itself, as I had to come back to the errors and correct them every time, losing many seconds in the process. That stuck my speed at 60 to 70 at 95 % accuracy; otherwise, I could have gone well beyond 80 wpm now.

3. Follow the rules carefully and try not to deviate from them. In particular, the rule for typing the capital letters and special characters using both your hands is a bit difficult to follow at first. But stick to it, and you would see that you did a great job.

4. Try not to look at the keyboard, and just remember the rules when you type. At first, you will feel it difficult. But persistence is the key!

5. Always come back to the home row after a keystroke, and remember to graze over the keyboard to type keys rather than keeping your fingers one inch above the keyboard and tap only the appropriate keys as you see in films. It’s touch-typing you do, so touch and graze over the keys to reach the appropriate key, without making loud tapping noise.

6. When you sit idle, try to imagine the key positions, and type A to Z mentally. This will improve your speed.

7. After finishing each practice, collect those words, which you typed wrongly. Collect a big list and practice each word in the list.

8. Your sitting posture when you type is very important. You have to sit erect, with enough support for the back, wrists, and elbows. Typing on ergonomic keyboard design is the best for your hands. Also, make sure to keep your eyes slightly above the level of the keyboard.

Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard Model

Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard ModelA Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard Model

A Little About Keyboard Layouts

The rules given here all apply to the popular keyboard layout, QWERTY. There is another keyboard layout, which helps you type far faster than QWERTY. It’s known as Dvorak, named after Dr. August Dvorak, who worked behind it. Dr. August Dvorak and William L Dealy created the Dvorak keyboard back in 1936.

If you don’t know the fact, QWERTY was originally created rather than increase it. Here the letters commonly used together are placed at distance from each other, so that the average typing speed of a person is lower. Dr. Dvorak researched the most frequently used letters and letters used together and designed the layout that makes typing fast and painless. You can type at double speed on Dvorak than on QWERTY. However, QWERTY was already very popular and it was difficult for Dvorak to sustain.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout
Dvorak Keyboard LayoutThe Dvorak Keyboard Layout

The fastest typist in the world, Barbara Blackburn, who averages at 150 wpm at 100 per cent accuracy, uses Dvorak layout for typing. Dvorak keyboards come in three versions—for left handed, right handed and suitable for both hands. The most accessed keys, E and T appear on the home row itself, giving us faster access to them. While QWERTY Keyboards average at 60 t0 80 wpm, the Dvorak keyboard can take you up to 100 wpm easily.

It is, however, not recommended that you try to learn both QWERTY and Dvorak at the same time. It’s extremely difficult if not impossible to master both. Learning both at the same time tricks your brain successfully.

Conclusion

Work on your typing skills and it can really be a great investment in your work life. Let me know your current typing speed through comments here. If you are not a typist, try to learn the basics of the art and let me know by comments, if you have made improvements.

Image Credits: www.chimoosoft.com; www.microsoft.com

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

12 Opinions:

  1. thanks a lot for this, I can't believe peopele have slept on this post. You really gave me the motivation to learn how to touch type and now after about three weeks of practice i average around 50wpm on typing tests. although it didn't come easy, my hands would be hurting me by the end of the day. One question i need to ask you, how did you build up to that speed, it seems now that the maximum i can achieve is a lousy 50wpm so are there any techniques so i would be able to type as fast as you. please answer this question although it's a little late.

    ReplyDelete
  2. HI Humza, thanks a lot for the comment.

    Indeed, fifty wpm is great within three weeks. It took me almost a little more than a month to achieve above 60. Now I am above 70. However, as I always said, accuracy is the most important thing. Go real slow if you are not 100 per cent accurate. Try this. If you have low accuracy, go real slow, and build accuracy first. Then you will see that your speed will build further. I suggest using software like typingmaster for practice. It's what I use.

    There is no secret whatever. If there was, I would have shared it. I only practice and practice building my typing. If you have Orkut account, there is a little application I use, typeracer, in which you can race with actual orkut members in real time. It is a great way to practice. However, as I always say, ACCURACY!!!! first and speed next.

    Lenin

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  3. actually, i'm surprised you mentioned that typing racing game, I use all the time, it's so addictive that I have to play with it every single day. Actually my accuracy isn't bad it's like 95% percent or so but like every other person i have good days and bad days.

    thanks once again for the advices, i always practice like you said maybe a little too much, like somedays i would type for an hour straight, and i'm beginning to feel that i'm passing that road block.
    and for another time thank you so much, although i'm only 16 and i don't need this skill much in high school in my country, but i'm postive that it will give me a great advantage in college and in the jobs i'll apply to.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow that's good to know. but your typing accuracy of 95 is not really commendable. You should try your level best to reach 100 and it's a must. In fact, if you stay at 95 and try to build speed, you are most likely to go astray and get your accuracy down ten points. So, first accuracy, and then the speed will automatically come, trust me.
    Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I am at my wits end to improve my typing speed and accuracy. I have tried everything and nothing works. I just recently bought a blank keyboard and that did not help. I have been a word processor for the last 15 years and recently lost my job. I need to type 70 wpm with less than two errors. I am currently only typing 56 wpm with 10 errors. When testing my typing becomes erratic and my fingers go all over the keyboard. I cannot consistently typed without making numerous errors. I sometimes hesistate instead of tapping with a constant flow. I know the lay-out of the keyboard so that is not the problem. Any ideas on how I can imporove?

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  6. Ingrid, first try to get rid of all your errors. In fact, if you retain those five errors, it will double within a few days. And then the speed will get again lower. So, the most important thing is practice with 100 per cent accuracy. Speed will come automatically, and it will be higher than you expect. I suggest using some typing games and typing software as well. Read my tips again and follow. You will type above 70 within a month's time. All the best.

    Lenin

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  7. here, after another three weeks or so, i'm typing at around 60 to 70 wpm, with near perfect accuracy. it really pays off, now that i'm able to type my homework so much faster and don't have to think about the act of typing anymore, everything just flows.
    i feel very grateful for you, and without you i don't know if i would ever have the motivation to learn this life essential skill.

    it really does make your life that much better.

    after reading this, i hope you realise the impact you had on another human being's life.

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  8. Wow, Hamza, that's really great news. Wonderful to know you crossed sixty. It's indeed an encouragement for the likes of me to see such comments. I will spotlight this comment on my toda's special widget as well.

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  9. I have a unique typing style that has just developed over the years. It's not quite touch-typing, nothing to do with homekeys - but hey, it works for me. Pretty quick and accurate.

    I'll try some of your tips but it's hard to break lifelong habits :(

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  10. I was searching for finger assignment in touch typing for so many days. I got several posts.. I got several utilities... I am using Ktouch in debian to attain a good typing speed. I am also using gnutypist both in Debian and in windows... But I could not find such a detailed article which clearly specify each finger assignment in touch typing.. Thank you very much for the post....

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  11. Thanks for the comment, Thomas.

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  12. Awesome tutor. The ease with which you guide is commendable. Many touch typing softwares just download and then you have no idea what to do but this post is really honing my typing skills.

    ReplyDelete

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