Original article posted on MTWorld.com
Typing speed and efficiency is one of the most crucial aspects of many careers such as medical transcription – where every keystroke counts – literally. It turns out that typing form can be one of the most important determinants of ultimate typing speed and efficiency. Most of us are aware that the most effective method of typing is referred to as “touch” typing. With touch typing, the hands are placed over the keyboard with the fingers in a specific formation. The position of each key on the keyboard is memorized and typing occurs fluidly and without the requirement to continuously look at the keyboard. Typing keyboards have become standardized so that the keys are always organized in a specific way – arguably allowing for maximum efficiency. I say arguably because there are schools of thought that insist that there are actually more efficient ways of organizing a keyboard. Nevertheless, these schools of thought have not prevailed and the current keyboard arrangement that you see on almost all keyboards today in one variation or another has taken hold and become a ubiquitous standard.
Standardization has occurred for a very important reason. Consider the vast amount of information available in books, libraries and on the internet. All of that information has been hand typed by an army of skilled typists. Standardized computer keyboards have allowed a mechanization of the typing process resulting in incredible advances in typing speed and efficiency.
Touch Typing Technique
The old method of typing (and sadly, a method still in widespread use) is the “hunt and peck” methodology of keyboarding. This is an extremely tedious and inefficient method of typing. People who use this style of typing are either incapable, unwilling, or possibly have just never considered that it was worth their time to memorize the position of the keys on a keyboard and to adopt standard finger positioning techniques. Unless you are a person who truly only interacts with a keyboard once or twice a year you will profit from the efficiency that can be generated through keyboard memorization and touch typing techniques.
Speed Typing Checklist
In addition to learning to “touch” type, many people find that they can incrementally increase their typing speed through a combination of:
1. Maintaining a correct typing posture: this means sitting erect with elbows to your sides and fingers neither hovering above nor pressing down, but rather resting gently on the keys in a standard finger position – more about this below.
2. Ensuring that the keyboard is at the proper height. Most desks and keyboard trays are set at a standard height. Be aware that if you are shorter or taller than average you will need to adjust your chair to establish comfortable positioning. Speaking of chairs, if you make your living interfacing with a keyboard as medical transcriptionists, data entry specialists and computer programmers do, then a chair is simply not a place to skimp. You need a chair that will provide excellent support and facilitate a healthy typing posture. Additionally, your chair selection should consider the maneuverability – both in terms of vertical adjustment to set the chair to the exact height and the ability to move from side to side or swivel depending on the need. Further, you should not forget about comfort and circulation. I have personally had seats that restrict the flow of blood to my legs because of the way they were designed. You need to be careful and pay attention to the chair you select. Realize that it can have a measurable and long term impact on your health. If you type a lot, you need to care for your spine, your arms,wrists, and fingers, and pay attention to ensure that you get adequate circulation through your legs.
3. Typing with finesse – type fluidly with fingers resting gently on the keyboard. Every ounce of extra effort will add up. Poor technique can contribute to carpal tunnel and other repetitive injuries.
4. Refraining from overworking yourself. Take periodic respites from your typing routine. Gluing yourself to a keyboard for hours of uninterrupted typing will lead to problems and fatigue and render you less productive in the long run. It will also jeopardize your health, possibly taking you permanently from your career.
5. Monitoring your typing speed and accuracy by returning frequently to the free speed typing test available at MTWorld.com can motivate you toward higher levels of speed and accuracy as you see the results of your efforts.
6. Making proper and generous use of macros and keyboard efficiency tools. With a modest amount of setup and a relatively minor investment, you can increase your typing speed, efficiency and productivity substantially by taking advantage of productivity software. Macros basically allow you to substitute words, word strings, or even entire repetitive paragraphs with a few keystrokes. Again, even if you feel that the typing macros don’t speed up your typing significantly, it may still make sense to utilize them as much as possible to minimize the volume of repetitive physical keystroke activity you are subjecting your body to on a daily basis. At the very least it will result in less repetitive stress on your fingers and wrists.
7. Fixing typing errors in real time. Taking the time to stop and correct each mistake at the moment that you notice it is one of the biggest time drags on your overall keyboarding speed and efficiency. By continuing past a mistake even when you realize you have made it you will maintain a continuous uninterrupted typing rhythm, yielding huge benefits over the course of a typing session. Correcting errors at the conclusion of a completed report with the assistance of automated spell and grammar check software will in the long run be far more efficient. Don’t underestimate the need for a final proof read to catch mistakes that are not caught by spell check software, which is notorious for missing obvious contextual problems.
8. Determining the proper auto-correct setting for your circumstances. Depending on the sophistication of your auto-correct software capability, you may want to avail yourself of an auto-correct feature, which basically corrects problems as they happen. However, this can also become your worst productivity nightmare as auto-correct programs are notorious for thinking they have you outsmarted and correcting a lot of things that do not need correcting – requiring you to go back and fix the problems. What is worse, these problems will not be caught by spell check and will have to be discovered manually. The right option for your specific circumstance will likely be discovered after one or two typing sessions.Often out of sheer frustration you will turn the silly feature off after a paragraph or two. Use your judgment on this one.
9. Practicing short bursts of high-speed typing. By typing as fast as you can for relatively short periods of time you will begin to acclimate your fingers and your mind to the notion that you can type faster than you believed possible. This is important and will eventually result in a higher rate of average typing speed for most people. Your brain and fingers will typically cooperate to allow you to type at a comfort level rate of typing speed. Most people are capable of typing much faster than this comfort level rate. It requires practice and effort and a basic mind adjustment to accomplish it – but it will pay big dividends if you keep after it.
With proper attention to some of these details you will be surprised at how quickly you can improve your typing speed and efficiency. The MTWorld.com speed typing test will allow you to monitor your typing speed and efficiency and measure your progress toward your goals.