There are no secret tips or tricks to becoming a faster typist. That might seem disappointing at first, but what it actually means is that anybody can get fast at typing with time and practice.
Once you can type without looking down at keys you will find your speed going up. It’s not complicated, but you need a good body position and to know where to position your fingers on the key. With some patience and persistence, you’ll find yourself touch-typing at a very respectable speed.
Get to know the keyboard.
Most keyboards use the same layout, called the QWERTY layout because of the letters that make up the left side of the top row of letter keys. Many keyboards also have various other buttons around them that do different things.
Most keys on the keyboard are used to type their corresponding character into a text area. Open up a text file and try pressing all of the keys to see what they do.
Practice memorising the positions of the letter keys and common punctuation marks.
You will need to know where these are without looking at the keyboard if you ever hope to become a fast typist.
Learn the correct hand position.
To type quickly, you must hold your hands and fingers in a certain position over the keys, and let them return to that position when at rest.
- Your hands should also be slightly angled, i.e. Your right hand should be angled to the left (at about 145 degrees), whereas your left hand should be angled to the right, or at a 45-degree angle.
- In brief, your hands should arch up slightly from the wrists, and your fingers should rest lightly on the “home row” section of the keyboard.
- The home row keys along with the fingers that you should hit each letter with are as follows:
- Your left index finger should rest on the letter F and should hit the characters: F, C, V, G, T, and 6.
- Your left middle finger should rest on the letter D and should hit the characters: D, R, 5, and X.
- Your left ring finger should rest on the letter S and should hit the characters: Z, E, 4, and 3.
- Your left pinkie should rest on the letter A, and should hit the characters: A, \, Caps Lock, 2, 1, W, Q, Tab. Shift, and Ctrl.
- Your right index finger should rest on the letter J and should hit the characters: 6, 7, U, J, N, M, H, Y, and B
- Your right middle finger should rest on the letter K and should hit the characters: K, I, 8, and the comma key.
- Your right ring finger should rest on the letter L and should hit the characters: L, the full stop key, O, and 9.
- Your right pinkie finger should rest on the semi-colon (;) key, and should hit the characters: semi-colon, P, /, 0, ‘, -, =, [, ], #, Shift, Enter, Backspace, and the Ctrl key.
- Left and right thumbs should rest on and press the space bar.
Close your eyes and say the keys out loud as you press them.
One good way to help you get to know the positions of the keys without looking at them is to look away from the keys, and directly at the screen, and pronounce the keys as you press them. This will help you with the process of memorising the key positions. Keep doing it until you no longer need to say the letters as you press them.
Gauge your speed to start with.
There are many ways to estimate your typing speed, which is usually measured in WPM (words per minute).
The easiest is to simply type “what’s my WPM” into an Internet search and click one of the top links for a simple test. This will give you a starting point for your efforts.
Having a score as a benchmark will help to measure your progress over time.
Sometimes you will see your score presented in WAM (words a minute), rather than WPM.
There is no difference between these terms. Remember that WPM is best gauged over a set period of time. Typing for more or less time can change your WPM, so be consistent with the test you choose when you come back later to check your progress.
Start slowly with touch-typing.
Getting faster at typing is a matter of steadily developing your skill, and touch-typing (typing without looking at the keyboard) is generally the quickest way to type once you have mastered it.
If you’ve never touch-typed before, that means you’ll be spending quite a bit of time on this step. But once you can type without looking at keys you’ll get much faster.
It can be frustrating to start typing in this way and it may feel alien to you, but with some work and patience, you will improve.
Try to limit your finger movement only to what is needed to reach the keys.
Stick with it and don’t look at your hands.
It’s important to avoid looking at the keyboard as you type so that your fingers are forced to learn where the keys are through physical repetition. If you can’t look away from the keyboard, try typing with a light cloth, such as a hand towel, draped over your hands instead.
You might even find you are slower than before at the start, but stick with it. Once you touch-type you will reach much higher speeds than with your original technique.
Practicing and Improving
Practice, practice, practice. Touch-typing is a tricky skill to master, but once you have got you fingers in the correct position on the keys and have your posture lined up nicely, the only way to improve is through practice.
Take some time every day to practice touch typing and work on your speed and accuracy. Over time, your WPM will steadily increase.
If you can set aside just ten minutes a day where you open a document and type without stopping, you will notice you make fewer and fewer errors each time.
Practice with some online games.
There are a whole bunch of websites which have free typing games that you can practice on. They will normally give you a score and record your WPM too, so you can try to beat your record and compete with others doing the tests and games online.
Practice with dictation.
If you don’t know what to type, one good way to practice is by listening to something and typing it out as you go.
There is no end to sort of thing you could type, and this could be a good way to make practising more fun if you listen to something interesting, like an ebook, a lecture online, or a radio talk show.
Even a TV show could work, so be imaginative and try to make practice fun.
Monitor your progress.
Re-test yourself and keep track of your score for each week. You’ll soon notice a gratifying upward trend. But don’t get too obsessed with your WPM score, think about how comfortable you are and how much easier you are finding it to type quicker.
Consider more formal training.
There are a number of specially designed programs that can help you learn to touch type quickly. Most of these are either simple guided sessions or games whose outcomes are controlled by your typing speed and accuracy. If you’re in a hurry to improve your typing, consider investing in one.
These programs come in all varieties. Free Internet typing tutors are widely available, but there are also free programs you can download, and a wide range of programs that cost money. Some are more fun than others, but all will help you improve your typing.