The Beginner’s Guide to Touch Typing

Touch typing, i.e. the skill of typing with all ten fingers without the need to look at the keyboard as you go, is a valuable skill, if you want to drastically increase your typing speed. If you are new to touch typing, here is a beginner’s guide to help you get started.

Touch typing has nothing to do with a touch screen. Basically, touch typing is the ability to type with all your fingers without the need to look at the letters on the keyboard. You achieve this not only by memorizing the placement of each letter, number, and sign on the keyboard, but by also memorizing which finger controls which keys.

In the beginning it might look as if by using touch typing you will never be able to type as fast and accurately as you do with your present two-finger system (also called hunt and peck), but this isn’t so. The time you waste to move your two fingers cuts your speed drastically and even if you are an ultra-fast hunt and peck, the number of words per minute you will be able to type is two, even three times lower than with touch typing.

In other words, the investment to learn touch typing is worth it, unless you plan to use the keyboard only occasionally. This a relatively rare scenario, unless your tasks can be completed with the mouse only. In all other cases, even for emails alone, it makes sense to ditch the -finger approach for something more advanced.

While the basic principles of touch typing are not rocket science, there are thick textbooks devoted to it – they are mostly exercises, though, and not complex theory. Basically, you need to remember which finger which keys services, as shown in the image below, for the standard QWERTY keyboard.

touch-typing-01-qwerty-keyboard-layout

It’s also important to remember the home position of your fingers – the keys and fingers are shown in green. Here is the list:

  • Left pinky finger- On button A
  • Left ring finger – On button S
  • Left middle finger – On button D
  • Left index finger – On button F
  • Right index finger – On button J
  • Right middle finger – On button K
  • Right ring finger – On button L
  • Right pinky finger – On button ;
  • Both thumbs – On the Spacebar

You might have noticed that the letters F and J are marked (on any keyboard, not on learning ones only). The idea is that thanks to these little markers you will feel the keys, and if you accidentally move your fingers from the correct position, you will be able to place them back without having to look at the keyboard.

During typing, here are the movements of the fingers:

  • Left pinky finger – for typing button Q, A, Z and left Shift
  • Left ring finger – for typing button W, S and X
  • Left middle finger – for typing button E, D and C
  • Left index finger – for typing button R, F, V, T, G and B
  • Right index finger – for typing button Y, H, N, U, J and M
  • Right middle finger – for typing button I, K and ,
  • Right ring finger – for typing button O, L and .
  • Right pinky finger – for typing button P, ;, ?, {, }, ', Enter and right Shift
  • Both thumbs – for pressing the Spacebar

You will notice that you will need to stretch your index fingers (both left and right) to cover the buttons T and Y.

In a nutshell, this is the essence of touch typing. The rest is practice, and lots of it to get your fingers to memorize the movements.

In the days of typewriters, your only resource was the touch typing textbook with the exercises in it. Today there are more choices. Here are some useful resources for touch typing beginners.

Blank keyboard

If you are unable to resist the temptation to look at the letters, get a blank keyboard. This is a keyboard where the letters are not printed and the keys look exactly the same. You can do without a blank keyboard, but it could help.

touch-typing-02-blank-keyboard

Join the Typing Club

While you can get a tutorial/textbook and practice on your own now and then, better results can be expected if you do it systematically. There are lots of software programs online, but Typing Club is the best for both newbies and more advanced touch typists. It’s a free site. Just choose your language (and the keyboard layout you prefer if there are multiple layouts for the your language), and be persistent in your endeavors.

Other online tools

There are also several other typing websites that you can use to master touch typing and improve your typing speed.

When you are a beginner, touch typing looks clumsy and counterproductive, but believe me, this isn’t so. The long-term benefits of acquiring this skill are worth the effort. Don’t get discouraged quickly, and don’t give up simply because the beginning is rough. You do need a lot of practice, but once you get the knack of touch typing, you will wonder how you managed to live without it.

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