Many of us now spend hours every day typing at our computers. Have you ever thought to yourself that you wish you could type faster? Typing fast is now an essential skill and helps to improve productivity, and it can also be fun! If you are looking to improve your typing speed, you will need to spend time practicing. However, there are some ways that are better to practice than others. Continue reading to see my suggestions for improving your typing speed.
Note – If you have spent any time reading about typing online, you have most likely seen debates over what the best keyboard or keyboard layout is. In reality, there is no single best keyboard or keyboard layout. People have reached incredible speeds on cheap keyboards and expensive keyboards and also on all three of the main keyboard layouts (QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak). However, having a keyboard that you enjoy typing on can turn practicing into something you look forward to.
When you type less than 30 words per minute, this is the time to make sure that you have the fundamentals of typing down. While there are several typists who have reached incredible speeds typing while only using several fingers, it is recommended to type with a standard technique to begin with. This means learning to touch type (type without looking at the keyboard) with the home-row method (resting your left hand on asdf and your right hand on jkl;). There are many free online programs to help with this. Three great options are typing.com, Typing Club, and Key BR.
No matter which program you choose, be prepared to dedicate time and focus to learning to type. While it might seem tedious, it is essential that you master the basics, and it is much easier to learn the correct habits from scratch rather than replacing old ones. When learning, try your best to not let yourself cheat by either using the wrong finger for keys or looking at the keyboard.
You will spend many frustrating hours learning the basics and forming the muscle memory necessary to type accurately without looking at the keyboard. If you are dedicated to practicing every day, you most likely will be able to reach 30 WPM within a month of beginning.
Once you reach 30 WPM, you should have the muscle memory of where the keys are down. You should be able to type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (a phrase that contains every letter in the alphabet) without looking at the keyboard. Check out this website for more phrases that contain every letter to practice with.
If you can comfortably do this, it is time to start putting in some practice time on the different typing websites available. When you are just starting out, you should practice on Type Racer, Nitro Type, or TyprX. All three of these websites are great for improving at this stage, so playing on any of them will help you to improve. However, Nitro Type does not require you to backspace if you type an incorrect character, so make sure that you do not abuse this feature and let your accuracy drop. On Nitro Type, your accuracy should not drop below 96% at this typing speed. The higher your accuracy the better, as long as you are not too afraid of making a mistake every once in a while. It is crucial to form the habit of typing with good accuracy.
You will most likely be able to continue to improve just by putting in more practice time. Do not be frustrated if you go seemingly weeks without improvement, as progress is not linear. You will plateau at a certain speed, and then all of the sudden feel like you have unlocked speed that you have never reached before. Just make sure that you are typing with high accuracy and good technique.
If you get to the point where you can type over 60 WPM, you have achieved a very proficient typing speed. Most people will need to want to improve in order to improve past this point. Consider investing in a keyboard that you will enjoy typing on. Even though it will most likely not have a great effect on your typing speed, it can make practicing much less of a chore. Roughly half of surveyed top typists said that they primarily used a mechanical keyboard, and many of those who did not use a mechanical keyboard mentioned that they enjoyed typing on them more.
The majority of typists who type around 70-80 WPM fall into one of two traps. The first, which is much more common in the online typing community, is hitting keys as fast as possible while sacrificing accuracy. If you feel yourself doing this, slow down and type deliberately with as high of an accuracy as you can. It can be painful to spend time practicing where you feel like you are not hitting your top speed, but this sort of focused practice is what will help you improve faster.
The other trap that many typists around this speed fall into is typing too accurately and never increasing their speed. It is possible to type with nearly 100% accuracy, but preventing yourself from ever making mistakes will hold you back. If you feel like this describes you, try to relax more when typing and speed up your fingers, even if this means your accuracy drops slightly.
At this stage in typing improvement, typists should be starting to think about typing phrase by phrase instead of character by character. For example, when you see the word “around”, do not think of each individual character and type “a, r, o, u, n, d,” Instead, think of it as being like a piano chord. You should be able to drop your hands on the keyboard and see the word “around” appear on your screen.
Eventually, you should be able to do this for almost every word. It is easier to do this when you have typed a word before, so the more you practice, the more automatic it will be. One way to practice this is to type one word at a time. Type each word as fast as you can (while still typing it correctly), take a brief pause, and then continue to the next. You can gradually eliminate the pauses and still type the words as fast as you previously were.
You should also realize that you do not need to write every word at a continuous pace. Speed up on the easy ones and slow down if you need to on harder ones. This is a skill that takes practice.
Once you are able to type over 100 WPM, progress will most likely seem to stall for many months. While at this point there is not much you can do other than continue to dedicate months of hours of practice to typing, there are several things you can think about that might help.
The first of these is making sure you are reading ahead. This is important for several reasons. The first and most crucial is ensuring that you do not have a pause between each word which means you can type at a continuous pace. This means that you should not be looking at the word you are currently typing, but rather the next word or even several words ahead.
If you have only been playing on one typing website, consider using a different one for a little while, as every typing site has a different format that teaches different skills.
One method of practicing that I believe helped me progress past ~120 WPM is alternating practicing different skills. I would spend a week exclusively typing as calmly as I could with great accuracy. The next week, I would let myself type as fast as my fingers would carry me. When I am trying to type as fast as I can, I would use a mix of these two strategies, but spending time focusing on each extreme helps kickstart improvement. This is not something that you will do once and immediately notice the improvement, but after several cycles of working on accuracy and then speed, you will almost certainly notice that you are a better typist than before. Focused practice like this is what separates the great typists from the good ones.
At this point, it can seem like it is months before when you improve. If you continue to type with the intent to improve, you will eventually get faster.
140 WPM +
When you have reached an incredible typing speed of over 140 WPM, you most likely know most of the tricks of typing. One thing you can do if you haven’t already is optimize your typing style. The biggest movement you want to avoid is using the same finger twice in a row. For example, with words that contain “ed” (fed, bed, etc.), you will use your left middle finger for both the e and the d if you use a standard typing style. However, you could use your ring finger or index finger for one of the characters to avoid using your middle finger twice in a row. I personally type the e with my middle finger and the d with my index finger in cases like this, but what works for me might not work for you.
Using tricks like this of course require you to practice, read ahead, and process information quickly. You can get creative with tricks like this, as long as they work.
Everyone learns and improves in different ways, and this is true for typing too. At the end of the day, your improvement will be based on both your quantity of practice and the quality of practice. While typing mindlessly all day will help you to a certain extent, it is much less efficient and will not get you as far as spending some time every day dedicated to focused practice. I have suggested several methods of practicing and strategies to consider, what ultimately matters is that you find a way to practice that both is fun and works for you.