Anyone can learn to type. The trick is to learn to type quickly and accurately. The faster you can type accurately, the more desirable that skill becomes. So you may ask, how do I speed up my typing? Read on and hopefully we can offer some thoughts on the matter.
What type of keyboard should I use?
That depends entirely on you. Do some research and some shopping around. If you have a local computer store, like a BestBuy or a TigerDirect, pay them a visit. Ask the staff which keyboards they would recommend for a beginner typist. They can offer some valuable insight. Also, many stores have keyboards on display, either by themselves or attached to their sample computers. Type a few lines on them to see which ones feel right under your fingers.
What typing program is the best?
Again, that depends on your preferences. There are plenty of programs available, of the free and not so free varieties. Websites such as TyperWeb, Ratatype, and 10FastFingers offer free typing tests and lessons. TyperWeb even offers advanced lessons such as Common Medical Terms, if you were planning on taking up Medical Transcription with your newly acquired typing prowess. You can also go with more traditional programs such as Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing which, while not free, has been a staple in typing classes since the late 1980s. Also, if you are more comfortable in a classroom setting, call around to your local community college. Many offer on-site typing courses for a small fee. The only drawback to this is you will not generally be learning on your own keyboard.
My hands feel weird when putting my fingers on the home keys. What should I do?
They will feel weird, for a while at least. Learning to touch type is just a series of repetitive motions to train the muscles in your fingers. Once you get that down, it’s all muscle memory. Your fingers will know where each key is without having to even set your eyes on the keyboard. It’s no different than learning to fence, or to throw a ball.
I can’t type without looking at the keyboard!
This is a common problem for beginning typists, because they simply do not know where the keys are. This is completely normal. Once you get the hang of the home row and the basic idea of the key locations, make a point of not looking down at the keyboard while you type. Focus on your cursor if you have to, or something else on your screen. If you can’t help but look down, cover your hands with a piece of printer paper or a tea towel. You need something light enough that it does not impede the movement of your fingers, but thick enough that you cannot see through it.
Any other advice you can offer?
Practice, practice, practice. The only thing that is going to improve your typing speed is practice. There are no short cuts in this, no easy ways to blinding fast typing speeds. If you’re new to typing, your hands will start to hurt after a while. If they do, take a break. Walk away from the computer for a few minutes and let your hands relax. You wouldn’t lift weights on a sore muscle, and you shouldn’t practice typing with sore hands.
Practice and repetition are the only things that are going to teach you how to speed up your typing. So what are you waiting for? Get typing!