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Increase Your Speed, Not Your Typos
Typing used to be a skill reserved for secretaries, clerks and writers, but it's now required for anyone wishing to function effectively in this century. It's not a difficult skill to learn, but typing both fast and accurately can be difficult. Practice may not make perfect, but it―along with a few simple tricks―can help you increase your speed without increasing your typos.
On an Old-School Typewriter
The main thing that will startle and challenge you about using an old-fashioned typewriter keyboard is how hard you have to punch the keys. When you hit a typewriter key, you are leveraging a metal arm to come up and strike a piece of inked tape between it and the paper. This requires a solid tap. A really solid tap. The only way to get faster on this type of keyboard is to use it all day long, every day, until you develop the finger strength you need to get that arm to smack the inked tape hard enough to leave a clear mark on the paper. Women used to type 160 words per minute and even more on these machines, through two pieces of paper and a sheet of carbon paper. They were superheroes.
On a Desktop Keyboard
Desktop keyboards are probably the easiest to type on. The keys are far enough apart that you have a bit of margin for error, and they don't require a heavy hand. Learning to touch type is your best bet for getting faster without sacrificing accuracy. Lessons, either in-person or online, are incredibly helpful, and they can also be a lot of fun. The main thing is to train your hands to find the start keys and use each finger only for certain keys. This allows you to avoid looking at the keyboard, which should increase your speed a little all on its own, because you don't have to keep looking back and forth.
On a Laptop
Laptops require an even lighter touch than a desktop keyboard, because tapping laptop keys too hard can burn out the connectors beneath the keys. But, laptop keys are closer together than typewriter or desktop keys, which increases the challenge for new typists. The more proficient you are as a touch typist, the faster and more accurately you will be able to type on a laptop, so lessons and practice can be helpful.
On a Tablet
The best way to increase your speed and accuracy on a tablet is to find your own personal style. Some people can type perfectly well by placing the tablet on a flat surface. Others hold it in one hand and type with the other, or brace it on their lap and use either two forefingers or two thumbs. The more comfortable and familiar you are with your particular tablet, the faster and more accurately you will be able to type on it.
On Your Phone
Smartphones are another device that require you to find and accommodate your particular style and preference. Most smartphone keyboards are so small that it's only possible to use your thumbs. Turning your phone sideways makes the electronic keyboard a little larger, so this might help you type faster and more accurately with your thumbs.
The best way to increase your typing speed is to practice. Set a timer for 3 to 5 minutes, force yourself to look only at the screen or back and forth from that to the document you're typing in, and go. Do this several times a day, and your speed and accuracy will most likely improve.
Do not apply any sort of hand cream or lotion just before typing on a desktop or laptop keyboard, because if you do it every day, it will eventually erase the letters from the keys.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.