You might think from my admission, I'm a bad typist. Not really as I can type at a reasonable rate. OK, I don't use all 10 fingers and I look at the keyboard. This places me in the amateur category. Glancing around it's easy to see I'm not alone in my bad habits. What it boils down to is many of us are inefficient typists.
Some of you might be thinking what's the harm to being slow or inaccurate. In my case, I can think of several reasons:
1. I edit as a write. If I see a mistake, I go back and make the change. My concentration continually shifts from my writing to the keyboard to the monitor and so.
2. I waste time making corrections.
3. I spend a lot of time on a computer inputting data. Any efficiency I gain can be applied to something else.
To become efficient meant I needed to relearn touch-typing. I also decided I was going to do this in a way that fit my schedule. I didn't want to commit to classes or online registrations. After looking at a number of touch typing tutoring sites and typing programs, I found three I liked. Two are online websites and the third is a free software program you can download.
Type Online is a clean and well-structured site. One of the items that caught my eye was the description that read "a structured touch typing course for motivated individuals looking to develop their keyboard skills."
The site consists of a series of five lessons with 10 examples along with instructions on keyboard layouts. You choose the lesson and exercise and click the Start button. You're prompted to type a series of letters in the text box. One nice feature was the site indicated which finger I should be using to type the bolded letter or key.
Upon completion of each exercise, you see your words per minute and accuracy rate. You can also see where you made mistakes.
Peter's Online Typing Course
Peter's site offers more exercises as well as the ability to add your own based on pasted text. Instead of seeing a series of moving letters, you can see the entire test passage. As you type each letter correctly, it becomes dim on the screen. If you make a mistake, you see a message telling you to try again. You can't advance until you correct your mistake.
Like the previous site, you get a statistical summary of how many seconds you took to complete the exercise and how many typing errors.
MaxType LITE Typing Tutor
For people who prefer a standalone program that can record your learning progress, I suggest MaxType LITE. The company also offers a professional version for a nominal fee, but the LITE version includes many useful features.
The program is more complex than either of the websites and involves creating user settings. While this takes a some effort, it does offer some advantages. One feature I liked was the ability to test my skills against various song lyrics, articles or source code. Perhaps, if I had learned to type using Beatle lyrics during typing class, I might have practiced more.
The program provides more statistics than either website. For example, I was able to see that I'm a considerably more accurate with my left hand than with my right and about three times as fast. The program also flagged the keys that I repeatedly mistyped. Ah yes, those darn punctuation keys.
The program also has an "extreme typing" mode where you can compete against yourself or another by using a MTR file. This recorded keystroke file is played back as your opponent. I found the mode fun, but I think the speed element made me revert to my bad habits. The easy way around this character flaw is for me to delay this mode until later. Most programs stress that you go for accuracy and then speed.
Reader Suggestion - Sense-Lang
Update: 05/07 - I received a reader suggestion from M.A. I pulled this from the email.
One good turn, deserves another; I was reading your sections and came across the typing programs report. I too can't touch type, but type fast enough the wrong way to make learning to type a painful experience. My major frustration with the programs on-line was they were key based rather than word based. Half the time my fingers were just remembering the pattern, not even looking at the letters (not very helpful). I found a program which has a great "enter your own text" feature and displays a keyboard showing the right finger movements on screen. I liked it better than the Peter's link you mentioned. http://www.sense-lang.org/typing/ It's helped me a great deal and while I still have a ways to go, it's gotten me the farthest.
My guess is we all have room for improvement when it comes to touch typing. If you're not sure, any of these resources will provide statistics to rate yourself. You may be surprised to find out you're not as efficient as you think. The good news any of these typing resources can help you become a more proficient typist without the hassles of a high school class. It just takes a little bit of effort and time.
Typingsoft website listing other typing programs and tutorials
Last Updated (Monday, 14 September 2009 23:04)