Is it worth learning how to type properly?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Amin Sabet, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I've literally grown up using computers but sadly never took the time to learn to type properly. With my mutated 6-finger technique, I can consistently touch type (no looking at the keyboard except for special keys) 50 wpm with infrequent mistakes, which isn't all that bad.

    However, I spend so much time typing, I wonder whether it's time to bite the bullet and learn to type properly. Am I too far gone to make the transition? Anyone here learn to type properly after decades of typing with some random mishmash technique?
  2. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I keep hoping by the time I really need to learn good typing that speech interfaces will be finally good enough to use instead!

    (mutated 4 finger typer here-I still have to watch my fingers on the keys but hit 40 wpm easy).

    Gotta say coming up with creative worthwhile things to write takes way more time than actually typing them out.
  3. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Real Name:
    Promit Roy
    So a quick bit of background on myself: I'm a computer programmer and a computer addict. I type enormous amounts of time and material all day, every day. Weekdays, weekends, and the like. I have lots of friends who do the same. RSI (repetitive stress injury) is a familiar ailment for many. I am not a doctor or an orthopedic therapist or any kind of officially qualified person, but it's a topic that I and my industry are intimately familiar with. I am a strong believer that the traditional method of typing, with two hands placed at the home row (ASDF/JKL;) WILL cause RSI and carpel tunnel syndrome on a traditional keyboard. This is a random image I googled but it illustrates my point:
    Note the deeply unnatural curvature of the wrists. This is a recipe for injury, in some cases almost immediately.

    IMO, there are two things you can do. A lot of us simply type 'improperly', using cobbled together muscle memory from years of typing from a very early age. I can hit 120 WPM without looking down at the keyboard and without my hands positioned in any particular place. But that's not something you can really train to very easily. The other option, which is probably the only reasonable option for you:

    Buy an ergonomic keyboard. The best ones are produced by Microsoft and Logitech. Do not under any circumstances spend time typing 'properly' on a laptop keyboard if you value your wrists -- I've seen elbow and nerve damage in one case by doing this. There are a variety of ergonomic shapes available, some subtle and some dramatic. Posture is important, from your lower back down to the wrists. As far as the keyboard goes, find one where your wrists are naturally inline with your forearm and relaxed while sitting at the home row. I recommend you try some in stores to get a feel for what's right. Make sure your desk and chair are adjusted suitably so that all your muscles are completely relaxed when you're ready to begin typing. Many of the keyboards include adjustable gel pads to help support your wrists. The home position should be a complete zero stress position, like you could fall asleep right there.

    There's a neat added bonus of an ergonomic keyboard, which is that the sharp center division generally renders most mish-mash techniques completely ineffective.

    PS This should be obvious but it bears repeating. Stop immediately at the first sign of discomfort. It's one thing to bounce back in your teens and twenties, but you're going to wind up with chronic ailments if you push it too hard and your body's repair systems are not what they used to be.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Bokeaji

    Bokeaji Gonzo's Dad O.*

    Aug 6, 2011
    Austin, TX

    Stop reading and go practice!

    - Eliot
  5. turbodieselvw

    turbodieselvw Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2010
    I've never formally learned to type - did it all on my own without knowing if I was doing it right or wrong with an old typing tutor programme (on a 5.25 in floppy) on an old IBM XT clones in the early '80s. I still suck at typing numbers as I've never played around with them when learning to type. I do a lot of typing at work and type fairly decently for not having done any formal training. I think if you're used to the way you type and it's sufficiently fast enough for what you're doing, you're good to go.

    I work with a couple of 60+ yr old guys who type very slowly with four fingers but it seems to work for them.
  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    typin iz over8ed.
    • Like Like x 3
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila

    I had just typed out a long diatribe about how good an idea it would be to learn to type. But then I just read Rob's comment about speech recognition, voice recognition. And so I decided to try to dictate this response instead of typing it. And lo and behold, to my great surprise, voice recognition seems to be at a point now, where I would have to change my mind and say you can probably get by without learning how to type better. Speech recognition has never been this easy or accurate as it is on my iPhone. I'm dictating this in a very natural tone of voice and all I have to do is say (period) at the end of the sentence, Ir to say (comma) when I want to pause. And it catches all of it.

    I did have to go through and clean up this dictated entry a little bit by hand. But it was so close to right that it took very little effort to clean it up.

    Here's what I typed before I decided to try to dictate and came up with the above - so here are two separate opinions, both mine, but the one above is more recent:

    I learned to type "properly" in my mid-20s on an Apple IIc using some game called typemaster, or typeblaster or something. Basically a video game that sent missiles at you from each of four corners and you had to type the letters or combinations of letters to shoot them down before they got you. It started you off with easy home-row stuff, one letter at a time, slowly taught you the whole keyboard with one and two letter combinations, and eventually took you into full words and programming symbols, using the whole keyboard. It was a great way to learn to type - I just thought I was playing a video game and did it in my spare time while not working. I'd say I got pretty competent within 2-3 months, probably less, and then over the next six months did a lot of drafting on the computer instead of longhand for my job and I'd say I was typing as well within six months as I do now. I'm not sure how many words per minute I do, but its pretty fast and its totally happening in my subconscious - I don't have to think about it at all. When I type on my ipad or iphone now, I'm reminded of what it was like to type before I really knew how and its quite frustrating relative to really being able to type on a real keyboard.

    I'd say bite the bullet and learn - you're still reasonably young, right? Young kids and all? I'd say go for it. It'll be a short term PIA for a fairly substantial long term gain.
    Or not...

  8. meyerweb

    meyerweb Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 5, 2011
  9. ZephyrZ33

    ZephyrZ33 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 18, 2010
    Southern California
    Like most kids who grew up in the eighties, I learned how to type on an Apple IIG. The speed didn't come until the early nineties when AOL Instant Messenger came on the scene.

    Now I'm using mostly an IPAD so back to hunt-n-peck, but with thumbs. :2thumbs:
  10. Kingsfan

    Kingsfan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 22, 2010
    highland park, CA
    Real Name:
    i wonder if there are any laptops available with curved keyboards, somebody should jump on that
  11. wattseee

    wattseee Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 14, 2011
    this is all I remember from learning to type at school.

    the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
    the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
    the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
    the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

    I'd be happy with the respectable 50wpm you manage now. It's not easy for a lazy dog to learn new tricks!

    those were the days. I still remember our first home computer with an 8" floppy. unfortunately mum did a clean up a few years ago and binned it.
  12. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    I use the Hunt & Peck method. :biggrin:
  13. MajorMagee

    MajorMagee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2011
    Dayton, OH
    I started typing in quantity on an IBM Keypunch machine with a similar but slightly different key layout than the manual typewriters of the day.


    It took some relearning when my work changed and I starting using an IBM Selectric all day. Then came along the Wang Word Processor, and I started getting lazy because it had a spell checker, and typing mistakes started to matter less. After that it's been a steady succession of computers and all different keyboards including a flirtation with Dvorak (better than QWERTY but was just too different as I wasn't using it exclusively and going back and forth was a nightmare).

    Dvorak Simplified Keyboard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    If I was seriously considering relearning to type, I might be tempted to give Dvorak another try as it's both faster and safer.
  14. Canonista

    Canonista Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 3, 2011
    Why would you want to learn to type differently now? Is it to gain speed?

    For me, it's not how fast I type, but what I type; i.e., it takes me longer to organize my thoughts and form logical, succinct sentences than to type them out (perhaps I need a new processor in the old noggin).

    I wouldn't bother to relearn something if it works, but then, I'm an old dog. :smile:
  15. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    I actually learned how to type properly on a regular computer keyboard. I learned when using a 2400 baud modem connecting to BBS type things if folks know what those were. I took typing in HS but we were using electric type writer machines, and those were hard to use IMHO. The keyboard sat way too high off the ground to type naturally.

    I'm a computer engineer and I spend a ton of time writing code. My boss hunts and pecks and it takes him forever to write code. To each his own I guess.
  16. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Thanks all! I'm going to give it a try. Already it hurts my wrist a bit to type this way, and I always want to use my right hand for the "B" key :rolleyes:. It's taking me forever to type this post :biggrin:.
  17. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Yes, to gain speed. I type a lot for work, and if I can get to 80 wpm it will be a big help. I've got no problem thinking about what I'm trying to say. It's just a matter of how fast I can get it typed out.
  18. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I spent a lot of money on an expensive voice recognition program, and I'm impressed with how good it is, but it's not good enough. By the time I learn to type properly at a speed exceeding my current capability with "bad" technique, speech recognition will probably be much better :rolleyes:.
  19. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    I am still learning how to photograph properly...

    The qwerty keyboard was designed to slow you down. This was to prevent trying to strike with two keys on a typewriter.
  20. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Besides, why do you need to type when you can just cut and paste from Wikipedia?