Teach myself to type "correctly"?
September 24, 2010 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I've always typed quickly but a bit "wrong" (only 6-8 fingers). Is it worth re-learning to type properly?

After many years of forming a bad habit, I somehow managed to end up typing not using my pinkies or ring fingers much at all. I type fairly quickly, but there's definitely room for improvement.

Also, like most of us computer folk, I have wrist issues from sitting at a computer for most of the day. Any ideas if typing "correctly" would help alleviate that? Or would it just be a marginal increase in speed?

And if your answer is yes - any suggestions for where to begin?
posted by razorfrog to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Mavis Beacon, man. All the way!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:28 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend getting an ergonomic keyboard--I have a Microsoft Naturals Ergonomic 4000. I've always touched typed pretty quickly, but had some issues (a few fingers on the wrong keys). My MS Naturals has cured me of those problems, and also lessened my wrist pain issues. Oh, and I type a bit faster, too. Only problem is that there's a bit of a learning curve (a few days), and now I'm incredibly slow on a normal keyboard. C'est la vie.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:31 PM on September 24, 2010

Anecdotally, I type using all 5 fingers on my left hand and only about three of my right. My "home row" is something like Shift-A-E-F-Space with my left hand and K-+-Shift with my right. No doubt typing teachers have aneurysms at the very thought.

But I type really, really quickly. Faster than the folks who tried to teach me to type correctly. And really that's all I care about. I've tried to learn the "right" way a few times and given up because it's an immense pain in the ass, and muscle memory is a powerful thing at this point.

So, I'd say don't bother with incredible frustration for a not-even-guaranteed speed boost.

On preview, I agree that keyboards make all the difference. Squishy dell things that come with institutional computers kill me. I have a nice firm Saitek that feels fantastic to type on and, as an added bonus, has survived countless spilled drinks, dropped books, etc.
posted by Rallon at 1:33 PM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: I survived college typing with maybe four fingers. In the downtime during my first post-college job, I taught myself to touch type by putting a color-coded diagram like this on my desk, looking at it every now and then, and practicing as I wrote work emails and such. That was all I needed, and it was a lot quicker and easier than I thought it would be. You already know the keyboard, so it's just a matter of retraining your fingers.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:40 PM on September 24, 2010

I type totally wrong, don't use my pinkies, reach for letters, etc. It's so bad that I can't use an ergonomic keyboard because it throws me off entirely. I also type at somewhere between 90 and 110 WPM. I don't see any way learning to type "correctly" would improve this situation.
posted by griphus at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2010

It's so bad that I can't use an ergonomic keyboard because it throws me off entirely. I also type at somewhere between 90 and 110 WPM. I don't see any way learning to type "correctly" would improve this situation.

FWIW, my initial typing speed was somewhere around yours, and now I'm edging closer to 120 WPM. And, like I said, I've felt a reduction of wrist/hand pain. So there's that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2010

I agree with Rallon. (My home row is generally shift-a-d-f-space, space-j-o-p-enter!)

But if you're going to retrain yourself, might as well have some fun and get into Dvorak.
posted by thejoshu at 1:52 PM on September 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all! I forgot how awesome (and quick) this place was. Off to go look at ergonomic keyboards!
posted by razorfrog at 1:52 PM on September 24, 2010

I somehow managed to end up typing not using my pinkies or ring fingers much at all

The main use of the pinky finger in humans is pressing the left control key.

Get an emacs, you will soon develop your pinky muscles to superhuman strength.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:55 PM on September 24, 2010

thejoshu: "But if you're going to retrain yourself, might as well have some fun and get into Dvorak."

Second! Here's some amusing help in that pursuit:
posted by Cogito at 2:03 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had surgery on my right hand in my early 20s and as a result, I developed the habit of using all 4 fingers of my left hand and pretty much just my middle finger on my right hand and sometimes my index finger. I type as fast as anyone else I know so I don't consider a big deal/problem. I sure as hell am not going to spend time learning to type "right".
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:04 PM on September 24, 2010

It depends on how fast you are. If you are below 70, look for instruction. If you're above 90, focus on equipment. My sister's technique keeps her stuck at 45wpm by her own admission. A second "this time I will actually do this because I want to get better" go with Mavis Beacon took me from 60ish to 90ish, which was vital to me while seeking secretarial work.
posted by SMPA at 2:25 PM on September 24, 2010

Yeah, an ergonomic keyboard taught me to touch-type over the course of a couple of months, so Nthing that it works, but honestly, if you type fast, and aren't havening any kind of repetitive stress injury issues, there is nothing wrong with typing in a non-standard way.

Whatever works for you.
posted by quin at 2:51 PM on September 24, 2010

Best answer: It is all muscle memory, and muscles can relearn, so yes, it is worth it. You will still be fast, but more accurate.

My carpal tunnel issues, by the way, went away for good after I visited my doctor, lived for awhile with a cast and rest, and then when the cast came off, picked up this type of wrist rest for all my computers.
posted by bearwife at 4:39 PM on September 24, 2010

I was there, once. If you learn how to type properly, you will see an initial reduction in speed. A fairly steep one. How long this lasts will depend on how much time you spend typing. The more you type, the faster you'll get through it.

Then you will type faster and faster. Before long, you will be typing at a much greater speed than you did before. This is true no matter how fast you originally typed.

Touch typing the "real" way is always faster. Just watch a touch typist, watch the economy of movement. The fact that some made-it-up-myself typists type faster than some touch typists reflects only the variation in typing speed. Not all touch typists type 110WPM. But all touch typists type faster than the non-touch-typing versions of themselves, if you follow.
posted by ErikaB at 4:40 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

What do you do at the keyboard? Would typing faster make you more productive?

I write software and test scripts, and type at probably something less than 25 WPM, but I've never felt like it's a handicap, because it's already faster than I can think.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:40 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Asking those who currently type improperly whether they believe they need to learn how to type properly is fraught, because A) those people may not be in any position to judge, given that they have not tried the alternative; and B) there may be natural inertia or defensiveness.

Ask a few people (if you can find them) who initially typed improperly and then learned to type properly whether that time and effort was worth it.

For what it's worth, I used to type incorrectly and managed about 95wpm. Now I type correctly (or almost, anyway) and manage 115-120wpm with better ergonomics. It was worth it for me. For others who do not use the keyboard enough to worry about speed or whose ergonomics are ok, it may not be worth it.
posted by kid A at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2010

Voice recognition software? I use Dragon professional, 110+ wpm, the more you use it (correctly), the better it gets ...
posted by GeeEmm at 6:45 PM on September 24, 2010

If you have wrist issues, you not only need an ergonomic keyboard, you also need to make sure your desk/chair are set up properly. Many companies will pay to have an ergonomics specialist come and arrange your workstation properly - it keeps you healthy and lowers the medical bills.
posted by kenliu at 8:47 PM on September 24, 2010

You have the "wristpain" tag on this question. Yes, some nonstandard typing methods will absolutely increase strain on your wrists.
posted by grouse at 8:47 PM on September 24, 2010

It's not for everyone, but I drastically reduced my wrist pain and increased my typing speed by switching to the Dvorak keyboard layout. It took me about 1-2 weeks to retrain and I hit something like 50% increase in typing speed (110 -> 170 wpm).

These days, Dvorak is built in as a keyboard option to both Windows and Linux, or I can hunt-and-peck in Qwerty.

It feels like you're thinking sideways for the first couple of days, then the patterns click and it's amazing. If you don't switch the keycaps, you will become a touch-typist! I kept the layout schematic handy but tried to find each key before checking it.
posted by bookdragoness at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2010

« Older Progammable thermostat for heat pump with timer   |   Quercetin Questions Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.