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Input Devices

Correcting Poor Typing Technique? 425

Posted by kdawson
from the quick-brown-fix dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When beginning to use keyboards I did not pay much attention to touch typing technique. Instead, I eventually achieved decent rates by simply doing what felt natural to me. These days my qwerty typing speed is in the range of 90-110 WPM, probably more toward the lower end. While this isn't too shabby, I feel some awkwardness in my technique (such as not using my little and ring fingers when I really should). Has anyone been in a similar situation, wanted to fix it, and actually done so? What do you reckon is the best way to fix half-broken typing? Touch training sessions? Should I switch to Dvorak and pretty much learn typing from scratch, but properly this time?"
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Correcting Poor Typing Technique?

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  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:03PM (#31394168)

    Is this a medical concern, or are you trying to improve speed?

    If you work in a data entry job, I guess it makes sense, but if you're actually spewing out so much code or documentation that typing speed is becoming an issue.. you're either a mad genius or producing some very poor quality code!

    I honestly think when it comes to most non-data entry jobs.. quality is generally better than quantity. A few slowly typed but well thought out lines are always going to be better than a page of garbage.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:05PM (#31394192)

    Eventually you'll hit a wall with your non-standard typing, and have to switch. Or start with proper typing, and work your way back up to speed that way.

  • Dvorak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:05PM (#31394194)

    Should I switch to Dvorak

    No. Even if you gain speed on your keyboard, the ability not to suck on other people's laptops is totally worth the 20 WPM decrement or whatever.

  • Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:06PM (#31394210) Homepage Journal
    My opinion: if you can achieve over 80 wpm with your version of hunt and peck, you're not making many errors, and you don't need to look at the keyboard to keep up with live (typed) chat conversations, then that's really all you need. Higher speeds is just going to stress the tendons. If you are truly held back in pouring your ideas into the computer at this speed, then you should have employees.
  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:08PM (#31394236)

    If you believe the marketing folks, touch typing has never been less important now, than in the entire history of computing.

    Everything is going to touch screen non-tactile smartphones, tablets, etc. Touch typing doesn't help much on ipods/iphones.

    The idea of typing anything other than "english prose" using a keyboard is dead. All "commands" are given via mice and menus/ribbons. The concept of a "command line" is dead to 99% of the population.

    Even worse, "leet txt sms speak" is the wave of the future. If it doesn't fit in 160 characters or whatever it is, then it is literally unthinkable.

    Also the tools are dying. I can type pretty well on a clicky Model-M keyboard. Not so well on a mushboard.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Slack0ff (590042) <{matbrady} {at} {bored.com}> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:09PM (#31394258)
    They also don't mention whether or not they have to look down to find keys? 90-110 using only a few fingers sounds fast. At least to me, as a touch typer who hovers around 85wmp.
  • by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:11PM (#31394270) Homepage

    Don't bother with Dvorak. The studies that showed Dvorak to be superior were methodologically suspect [straightdope.com], and the reams of anecdotal evidence that Dvorak is superior is largely due to confirmation bias--the people who consciously switched improved largely because they were switching consciously (and trying to improve), and the people who don't see an improvement rarely brag about that.

    Instead, a touch-typing program or other class will probably benefit you. A lot of the myths about qwerty keyboards are bogus, and you should see an improvement in your speed because you're spreading the typing load across more fingers and having to move your hands and forearms less than a fast, blind hunt and peck. A little practice on activating your pinkies will probably dovetail nicely with your existing skills, so the improvement will be quick.

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:17PM (#31394358)

    Probably the only real difference between a touch typist and someone whose "natural" technique gets them the same speed (and accuracy) as a touch typist is physical comfort.

    I use at most two fingers of my right hand which is at a very sharp angle coming into the keyboard because it's centered with WESD pretty much directly in front of my straight left wrist. I type just as fast as any touchtypist, the difference is that this is far less painful to my post-break right hand.

    The key part of "Repetitive Strain Injury" is "Repetitive". I'm pretty sure spending hours learning to touch type by typing ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again from the traditional centered-keyboard home-row position is going to give you carpel tunnel a LOT faster than "normal" typing.

  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:25PM (#31394448)
    This is why I found. As my skill with hunt-and-peck typing increased, my fingers would naturally linger over the middle of the keyboard and I could just hit the right key without looking. One day I just realised that I could touch-type without ever actually explicitly training myself to. It was simply an evolution of the muscle memory I'd developed.

    Ironically, the real catalyst for increasing my typing speed was arguing with people online. As you need to type both quickly and correctly, you soon develop a great deal of proficiency. It's also a great way to train yourself to avoid typos - nothing ruins your argument like typing like a 14 year old... well... except maybe on Youtube.
  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:28PM (#31394472)
    ... does technique really matter? I've had three kinds of experiences as far as typing.

    School
    Teacher: Here's a typing test.
    Me: OK. (Types.)
    Teacher: Your technique is absolutely horrible, you'll never be able to progress like that. If you're going to take typing you'll have to start in the beginner class and relearn from scratch.
    Me: No, thanks.

    Clerical job interview
    Interviewer: Here's a typing test.
    Me: OK. (Types.)
    Interviewer: 90 WPM, only one error. You pass.

    Technical job interview
    Interviewer: You've been using computers since the Commodore 64 days and remember DOS. Yeah, we're not going to bother with a typing test. I'm sure you're fine.

    My uncle was a journalist who typed with two fingers his entire career. His editor didn't care if he typed them by slamming his face on the keys, as long as the reports were on time and well-written.

    So, unless you need to do something for ergonomic reasons or just a mad fit of self-improvement, probably not worth it. Your ring finger will get over the neglect.:)

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrclisdue (1321513) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:29PM (#31394478)

    I'm a touch typist, and I can type 150wpm.

    Bear in mind that *everyone* greatly embellishes their wpm.

    No citation needed, just leave the room and ask a few people...then test them if you really feel it would be necessary.

    cheers,

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:42PM (#31394606) Homepage Journal

    Yep. I'm a touch typist. In high school, I was tested at 60 wpm, with some number of mistakes that the teacher found acceptable. In real life, I get 35 to 45 wpm, with few mistakes - usually spelling mistakes because I type on the fly. But, then, I've never worked as a typist, and only on rare occasions do I have to produce a document without errors. My skills have been adequate to my needs.

    A hunt and peck typist who gets over 100 wpm sounds, like the guy who submitted the question, sounds like a load of crap to me. I've seen people who can type in the neighborhood of 150 wpm, and they DON'T hunt and peck with two or four fingers. They make full use of their fingers, no matter how large or small their hands are.

    If I typed 100 wpm, I'd be proud of it, and not try to change anything, LMAO

  • by SLi (132609) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:46PM (#31394636)

    I agree. The comfort is the reason why I use dvorak, and I hate it when I need to use qwerty. OTOH I still prefer the physical keys in qwerty layout for the occasional case when I need to use qwerty (I don't need to look at the keyboard when typing with dvorak). The only case where this is not optimal is where I'd like to type with only one hand, so I'm considering getting some stickers to show also the dvorak layout.

    As to speed, I haven't done any measurements, but my general feeling is that I type perhaps a little bit faster with dvorak, but nothing significant. But it's definitely worth for the comfort.

    It's funny though how the people who are so eager to say there's no advantage to dvorak are invariably those that never tried it. (I do think that dvorak is not optimal either, it might make sense to choose some even better layout.)

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:59PM (#31394754) Journal
    My corrected speed is 65wpm according to typingtest.com calculating for speed and deducting for errors. Every job I've applied for has been very impressed with just 65, so I'd be very happy with a corrected 90wpm and I wouldn't bother fixing anything. Like the saying goes, ain't broke don't fix it.
  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:01PM (#31394764) Journal
    So he's using 4 fingers instead of 2...
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Simon80 (874052) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:12PM (#31394828)
    The why is irrelevant - if there's some obvious improvement to make, the question is why not? As for the OP, I suggest typing "improvement" repeatedly, until the habit is broken and your pinky types the p when you're not paying attention. Whenever you catch your ring finger typing e.g. a p or q, just type that word in a few times using the right technique, to reinforce the habit. I wouldn't know though, my ring fingers are still out in force - they're an inch longer than my pinkies, so it's hard to quit using them for things like backspace, at the very least. After looking at what my wrist does in both cases, I think I probably should make more of an effort.
  • by gumbi west (610122) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:32PM (#31394984) Journal
    When you quote your wpm you are quoting your speed at copying text printed on a page. I can type at about 50 if I think of what I am typing as words and 80 if I don't (just tested it), so I can probably only think around 50 wpm, adding in creating the text while they type, I think 30 wpm is reasonable. BTW, I thought I typed at 30 wpm, and when I was typing, it sounded very slow to me (with many pauses, and backspaces to correct mistakes), so you might want to check what 60 wpm sounds like again.
  • by value_added (719364) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:59PM (#31395216)

    The key part of "Repetitive Strain Injury" is "Repetitive". I'm pretty sure spending hours learning to touch type by typing ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again from the traditional centered-keyboard home-row position is going to give you carpel tunnel a LOT faster than "normal" typing.

    I'm afraid you don't understand the concept of technique. The idea is to be able to type ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again without effort, strain, or injury, while developing the desired speed. If you can't do that, then, as any music instructor will tell you, you're not doing it right.

    Musicians, incidentally, typically practise more hours in a day than anyone spends typing, and more hours than most of us spend at work (unless your a sysadmin). None of them require "ergonomic" fretboards or keyboards, and would balk at the idea of gel-filled rests for their arms, writs, or hands. What they do require is ideal technique and the dedication to endless hours of careful (and possibly boring) practice.

    Then again, most people are lazy. Why exercise the weakest fingers? Why play scales? Why hold your wrists up? Why learn to sit with your back straight, when it takes more effort? Why indeed. Better to sit back in that bean-bag chair with a drink nearby and call it a day.

    As for the article submitter, I'd suggest that if he wants to improve his technique, he'll have to "unlearn" his current one. That means learning (or re-learning) the rules so that he can break them, and then onnly if needed or desired. Stopping and going backwards so that he can move forward again, if you will. Musicians that deviate or otherwise use their own uniquely-inspired variations of standard techniques typically do so after years of pedagogic instruction and careful supervision. The ones that don't are one in a million. Everyone else is forever stuck at some level of mediocre proficiency (impressing friends and family, no doubt) and is talking out their ass.

    If you can type anywhere near 100wpm with "non-standard" technique AND your typing is accurate AND your typing is effortless, then you're a one in a million. Changing your technique may offer improvements, but I suspect those improvements will be subtle, and the gains relatively minor. Me, I can probably learn to do a consistent 120wpm. Practically spekaing, though, it's not worth the dedication or the effort, so I generally coast along at 80-90. Laziness and comfort is not something to aspire to (or advocate), but in measured doses, can be a good thing.

  • Re:Dvorak (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xonial (1207678) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:17PM (#31395336)
    The first couple months after I swapped to Dvorak, QWERTY was a real pain. I'm now (3.5 years in) competent with QWERTY, though, obviously, not as competent as I am with Dvorak. QWERTY requires a little more looking at the keyboard. Long story short, continued practice does help -- having to log into public machines on campus has ensured my QWERTY skills are in decent shape.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amRadioHed (463061) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:19PM (#31395928)

    So you're saying you use your ring finger for shift, control and enter? How is it stupider using the pinky which is closer and which requires much less wrist movement to reach with?

  • by sam0737 (648914) <sam.chowchi@com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:38AM (#31398688)

    I do Dvorak too, for 7+ years.

    As someone who uses dvorak, it's a great deterrent to people who frequently need to borrow other keyboards for a moment...

    Not to mention the amusement of watching them type something, look confused, repeat a few times before they say something.

    So do I. In addition, I also have CTRL and CAPS LOCK swapped (which makes a lot of sense when you copy and paste code a lot, ctrl is way lot more useful. Oh, don't tell my boss I just do copy and paste). Plus, I also do Chinese typing but again not using the mainstream IME, 3 things together creates lot of confusion to the others and that's really fun to watch.

    In terms of speed, I don't know about that, but dvorak does leave me a bit more comfy as I leave the home row less.

    Agree. Especially you know the fingers are really home-sick.

    Though, I don't think I have lost any QWERTY speed. I could still do QWERTY well at the speed before I am converted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:14AM (#31400758)

    it was designed to prevent jams

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QWERTY

    Dvorak studied letter frequencies and the physiology of people’s hands and created a layout to adhere to these principles

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard

    So qwerty was designed to prevent typing jams (I haven't had a typing jam in over 15 years) while dvorak was designed to match work to tools. Seems highly likely that the tool designed for ease of use would be easier to use than the one designed so that fast users wouldn't break it.

    Full disclosure: I have never tried dvorak, but I find it likely that it is better than qwerty based solely on these design principles.

  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mdielmann (514750) on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:20PM (#31403058) Homepage Journal

    Comprehension fail. He didn't say he uses hunt-and-peck. He said he doesn't use formal touch-typing technique. Now try to imagine, just for a moment, all the vast possibilities in between those two styles.
    For instance, I commonly use my index fingers on neighboring keys where they shouldn't go, I rarely use my pinkies for anything but home row, shift, and enter, and I often shift my hand one key left or right, depending on what I'm typing. It's not hunt-and-peck, but it isn't formal touch-typing, either.
    Oh, and error rates are implied in wpm. Kind of like the adjusted time scores in downhill skiing.

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