Learning to Touch Type

September 06, 2013

When I was in high school I took a typing class one semester. Each student had his or her own manual typewriter and we spent each class period learning how to type through a series of rote exercises. If I recall correctly we were allowed only two mistakes per page and we were not allowed to use erasable paper. I got to retype a lot of assignments as it was hard too keep up with the assignments and not make mistakes. My typing speed by the end of the 18 weeks was in the middle 20 range, perhaps 24 or 25 words per minute.

In college I first programmed on card punch machines and later on terminals. Card punch machines are even less forgiving than typing paper -- once you make a mistake the entire card is ruined and you have to re-punch it. I tended to punch slowly so as not to make costly mistakes.

After transitioning to terminals where it was possible to backspace and correct errors my keying speed increased but so did my mistakes. I simply learned to back up and fix them. What I should have done was slow down and learn to touch type. While that had been the goal of my high school class, years of bad habits left me with my own rather unique hunt-and-peck typing style.

I type using only the thumb, fore and middle fingers on my right hand and the fore and middle fingers on my left hand. When writing prose I am able to type without looking at the key board. However when I need to type symbols I sometimes need to look to see where the character is located.

Using a couple of different online typing tests, I tested my typing speed this morning. The average works out to 56 words per minute, usually with several errors.

My goal for the next 30 days is to practice typing at least 30 minutes a day using Peter's Online Typing Course. I like the breakdown of the lessons there. I am not so much interested in increasing my overall typing speed, but will happily take any increase that occurs. What I am interested in is improving my touch typing ability. I'd like to use all eight fingers properly and to be able to type without looking at the keyboard at all.

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.