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The Importance of Technique

Does proper typing form exist?  Does it matter?

Here’s what I believe: A foundation of good typing technique allows you to reach your greatest potential speed.

No matter how experienced you are with touch typing, there is room to refine your technique to allow you to type faster.  Increasing your speed will come from two things:

  1. Learning good technique, which may involve unlearning some parts of your current technique
  2. Doing what you do, faster

Just about everyone who tries to get faster puts all their effort into #2, without realizing the importance of #1.  This post will be about #1, and a future post will cover #2. If you think about it, it has to be done in this order, because we need to first establish a foundation of technique before discussing how to do that quickly.  We have to know how to run before trying to run fast.

Now, if you don’t feel familiar enough with the keyboard to touch type, your words per minute is likely around 70 or less — that’s fine!  This is a good place to be, because you likely haven’t developed major bad habits, and you can spend some time learning and practicing good fundamentals.

I recommend sites like Keybr and Ratatype, for learning good fundamentals.  (Note: I am in no way affiliated with these sites.)  This site will teach home row technique, which I highly recommend learning.  Even as a proficient typist, I found the site to be a helpful tool that showed me which areas of the keyboard I was less familiar with.

On the topic of proper typing form, don’t think of it as something you must emulate perfectly.  Instead, see it as a strong foundation that will dependably get you to a fast speed, which you will continue to build on over time with your own unique deviations.  If you’ve been a proficient typist for a while, you may have already noticed particular habits and techniques you have.

With that said, no matter how fast of a typist you are, it’s worth taking a look at your typing form.  Take some time now to type some text while watching your fingers, to see if there are things you do that slow you down because of inefficiency, discomfort, or not fully utilizing your fingers.  This might be a bit difficult to do on your own, especially if observing your fingers while typing changes how you type. You could record a video of your hands and play it back, perhaps watching it in slow motion.  You could ask a friend to watch how you type and note any outstanding observations.

Did you notice anything unexpected?  What little oddities do you do?

Here are a few broad principles I encourage for good, efficient typing:

  1. Use at least 4 to 5 fingers of each hand.  This increases efficiency by allowing you to type more letters, at a quicker pace, with less effort, because you already are covering more of the board and reducing finger travel distance in doing so.

  2. Use a thumb for the spacebar, not fingers.  The thumb naturally rests on the spacebar and is the perfect (I would say ‘only’) candidate for hitting the spacebar.

  3. Similar to the above point, use fingers to type keys that are close to that finger’s resting position on home row.  There is some flexibility in which fingers you use to type which keys, but this is a good principle to follow.  (For example, using your right index finger to type the ‘V’ key is probably not as efficient as a finger of the left hand.)

In addition to the broad principles I listed, there is also wiggle room for small habits and idiosyncrasies that deviate from the homerow typing form.  These are personal judgment calls based on comfort, efficiency, and familiarity, and I encourage carefully evaluating them to determine whether to keep them or revise them.  I offer personal typing evaluation services, free of charge!  Inquire at the contact page if interested.

As always, let me know thoughts and questions, and tell me what you find helpful.  Happy typing!

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