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So I've decided to try and work on getting my typing speed up much higher, since the way I type now creates many errors. The general consensus seems to be that the best way to type is with your fingers on the 'home' keys and using each finger to reach up and down to hit keys.

However, I've read that this positioning results in a lot of strings of letters with a single finger (such as spool), which is inefficient and awkward. I believe this was one of the bases that was used to setup the Dvorak key setup, but I'd rather not have to change the keyboard itself.

For working with the normal qwerty keyboard, is there a more efficient way to position your fingers, or anything that I should keep in mind before I teach myself the "traditional" way of typing?

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Accuracy is far more important than typing speed. One small mistake might take a lot longer to correct than you gain by being faster. –  Georg Schölly Jan 15 '10 at 20:05
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closed as off-topic by Journeyman Geek, Tog, Mokubai, Breakthrough, Dave M Sep 25 '13 at 19:48

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2 Answers

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You don't mention what your current typing speed is, or what your goal is.

"Much higher" has entirely different connotations to a(n) secretary administrative assistant than it does to a coder or even a network administrator.

At my best as a coder, I was hitting the 60-70 WPM range, and that was fine. Now that I'm back in network adminning, I've probably dropped to the mid 40's, and that's still plenty fast; I'm the poster boy for poor ergonomics, so if a lazy bum like me can do that, you should have no major difficulties hitting any speed you need, unless it's warp speed like the above-mentioned assistants and data-entry types need.

If you do need that warp speed, then you need to look into the whole ergonomics package: seating position, keyboard and monitor position, copyholder position, the keyboard itself. (I can't hit full speed on a "modern" keyboard, the feel is all wrong. I learned to type on a Selectric typewriter, and so, the only PC keyboards that have ever felt right (and therefore, the only keyboards that I can hit full throttle on) are buckling spring type (old-school AT keyboard, in other words).

Basically, to hit your maximum speed, get comfortable, in terms of seating, hand position, monitor position, keyboard, etc, and then start practicing.

Side note, as far as I know (I haven't looked it up recently to be able to cite), but there haven't been any definitive studies that show Dvorak, QWERTY or any given layout to be demonstrably faster/superior for a properly trained operator than any other layout. Pick the layout you like and learn it.

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While some early trails showed the Dvorak to be faster, later more extensive testing showed little if any difference. –  Jim C Jan 15 '10 at 19:41
    
Agreed, Jim; except some of those early trials used questionable methodology. The history of the early keyboard wars actually makes very interesting reading. –  Adrien Jan 15 '10 at 20:34
    
"Dvorak vs. Qwerty" is often misinterpreted to be about speed but it really is about comfort because Dvorak allows much less finger movement. The real downside of Dvorak is that it's non-standard, so most devices won't offer the layout. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 9 '10 at 7:21
    
I agree with the previous post, with error I can reach 70 or even 80 words pm however 10 words error rate is not allowed it ends up rounded down between 40 - 50. My best is 59 words 0 error. My average is 50 words and 1 error. It drops up and down depends on usage of the keyboard. Accuracy is the most important factor then speed comes with it. –  user108185 Dec 5 '11 at 5:27
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I'm not a great typist, but I'm a highly skilled piano player. To play the piano it is important to curve your fingers so as to use your fingertips for accuracy. Of course, it is easier if you keep your nails short.

I have found this greatly increases my accuracy when typing.

EDIT: also, we don't aim for "speed" until the last step. We aim for accuracy. The more accurate you are in terms of what it is you want to accomplish, the faster you'll get.

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Wow. I just looked at my own fingers; how could anyone be remotely effective typing with straight fingers? As for nails, I'm male and a nail-biter, so I have no personal experience, but I've seen women with dragon-lady nails trying to type, and, yeah, avoid the nails if speed and accuracy are important. –  Adrien Jan 15 '10 at 17:52
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