typing score per word
October 23, 2013 9:56 AM   Subscribe

Given a word, is there anyone who has come up with a metric for type-ability? Like "feed" is easier to type than "quit"? Is there some term I should be googling?
posted by mgogol to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Workman Keyboard Layout page uses several metrics of typing effort, though the author uses them to compare keyboard layouts rather than words. The metrics include:
  • finger travel distance (lower is better). For a QWERTY keyboard, "feed" has lower distance than "quit" because you don't need to move your fingers as far to reach all its letters.
  • same-finger utilization (lower is better). Here, "feed" is worse because you have to type three letters in a row with the same finger, which limits speed.
  • same-hand utilization (lower is better?). It's often claimed that alternating right-hand letters with left-hand letters is better than having multiple letters in a row with a single hand. The Workman layout author disputes this; see the link for his reasoning.
  • usage of keys in the middle columns (lower is better). Basically a subset of finger travel distance.

posted by mbrubeck at 10:08 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Different types of keyboards (QWERTY & Dvorak for example) are a factor.

If you use the QWERTY keyboard, check out this link, around the words "QWERTY KEYBOARD WORD RATINGS: An article in Discover magazine (“Typecasting” by Scott Kim, Discover) suggests that you can measure the ease of typing by using [...] ".

You can contact the author for more details.
posted by rada at 10:14 AM on October 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whoah, that explains why "hipbones" always seems to trip me up. It's a same-hand nightmare.

Slightly related: In Morse code, some letters are shorter than others (in terms of code units, dit-equivalent units of time), so there's a strong preference among ham radio operators, particularly those who participate in contests, for "faster" vanity callsigns.
posted by Myself at 11:54 AM on October 23, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the pointers, very interesting. I was thinking about it in terms of picking easy to type server names. They're going with tree names here and maple, aspen, hickory have varying ease of typing.

I wish someone would develop a formal scoring system so you could enter two words and score them based on QWERTY keyboard difficulty of typing. Or it would be an interesting way to come up with or choose between internet monikers or websites or something.

What would also be cool is if you actually had an experiment where you could time people typing lots of words and gather data on how long different words took. Eh, probably none of this will happen, but I enjoyed thinking about it.
posted by mgogol at 9:04 AM on October 24, 2013

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