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Is Touchscreen Typing as Fast as Using a Manual Keyboard?

The internet and smartphone technology are key to the way I connect with others.

Results of a 2019 Speed Typing Study of 37,000 Volunteers

  • With only 1 or 2 fingers, people type about 70% as fast on mobile devices as on full desktop keyboards. The average performance is only around 36 WPM.
  • The best touchscreen users reached 85 WPM.
  • Over 74% of people used both thumbs for typing which is significantly faster than using one thumb or index finger.
  • Younger people aged between 10-19 years typed fastest, although they spent less time on their mobile compared to those aged 20-39.
  • On average, young people between 10 and 19 years achieved ten words per minute more than their elders.
  • People using auto-correction typed faster. In contrast, people who manually chose words suggested by the keyboard typed slower.
  • The average typing speed on smartphones was 38 WPM compared to 52 on a standard PC keyboard.
Touch-typing means you can look at the screen and not your fingers as you type.

Touch-typing means you can look at the screen and not your fingers as you type.

Speed Typing, Smartphones, Computers, and Manual Typewriters

Speed typing is a faster version of touch typing. Some jobs require extremely fast typing speeds. For example, Court proceedings are recorded by a stenographer typist at speeds of around 120 WPM. However, most jobs do not require this level of skill and dexterity. Many people who work at increasing their typing speeds do so for either personal satisfaction or for competitive purposes. I learned to touch type using this app. It’s helped me get faster on my PC and phone. The app includes games as well as typing tests, so it’s good at encouraging you to practice.

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Touch Type?

To learn the basics of touch typing should take no longer than 8 to 10 hours of lesson time. However, this is only the first stage, and only enables a student to locate the keys without looking at the keyboard. A beginner typist only types only around 10 to 15 words per minute, as they struggle to maintain accuracy. To build up to the speeds required for commercial use (50-70 wpm) many more hours of practice will be required.

Some people achieve speedy typing using just two fingers on their touchscreen.

Some people achieve speedy typing using just two fingers on their touchscreen.

What Does WPM or Words Per Minute Mean?

Adverts for admin or call center roles often require applicants to be able to demonstrate minimum typing speeds. These differ according to the requirements of each job; 40 WPM (words per minute) may be adequate for a general administrator, 80 WPM would be more likely for a personal secretary’s role.

Employers use an automated test to measure typing speeds. An applicant is asked to either copy-type or audio-type a letter or prose passage. The software times the exercise, counts the keystrokes and deducts seconds for spelling mistakes. The resulting score reveals the accuracy and number of words per minute achieved by the touch typist. An average ability touch-typist achieves around 40 WPM. Someone who uses a computer keyboard regularly using one or two fingers to “hunt and peck” may type at around 30WPM.

Who Holds the World Record as the Fastest Touch Typist?

There is no international agreement on the equipment to be used when competing for a speed typing record. This has led several different people to claim they hold the world record. A key bone of contention is the type of keyboard used by competitors.Qwerty keyboards are the standard layout found on most smartphones and PCs. They are so named because the first five letters on the top row of the keyboard spell QWERTY. It was designed based on the frequency of letters used in the English language. It was supposed to be a pattern that would cause the least stretch for the fingers of typists using manual typewriters.

Some people say that the layout of letters on the Qwerty keyboard is a contributory factor to repetitive strain injury (RSI.) They prefer an older layout called the Simplified American Keyboard which was patented in 1936 by Dr. Dvorak. The Dvorak keyboard claims to reduce finger motion and enables typists to increase their speed without losing accuracy.

USA Ultimate Typing Championship 2010

The first (and only) USA Ultimate Typing Championship was held in Texas in 2010. There was a 1st prize of $2,000 for the winner and the glory of being a record holder. The competition was held using Qwerty keyboards and the two finalists battled it out in front of a world-wide audience. The winner and current champion is American, Sean Wrona. He beat Nate Bowen in a best-of-three rounds speed typing exercise. In the final Sean reached speeds of 163 WPM although he achieved greater speeds than this in earlier rounds of the competition.

Guinness World Record Holders and Speed Typing

The Guinness Book of World Records has a number of speed typing record categories to allow for the wide variety of devices now available. These include smartphones and different keyboards layouts. The table below names the current world record holders in the different speed typing classes.

QWERTY vs Dvorak: Which Is Better?

Typing Achievements of Each Record Holder

Each record holder above completed different tests on dissimilar equipment. So, you will have to make up your own mind as to who is the current overall typing speed record holder.

Typing Fastest on a Dvorak Keyboard

1985 Barbara Blackburn of Salem, Oregon maintained a speed of 150 wpm for 50 min (37,500 key strokes) and attained a speed of 170 wpm using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) system. Her top speed was recorded at 212 wpm. Guinness Book of World Records

Typing Fastest Over Knockout Rounds on a QWERTY Keyboard

2010 Sean Wrona typed a 574-word text at 163 words-per-minute in the final round of the Das Keyboard Ultimate Typing Championships held in Texas USA. Das Keyboard

Typing Fastest on a Smartphone

2011 Grace Pak (USA) typed a prescribed 264-character text on a QWERTY mobile phone in 56.57 seconds at Abington Junior High School in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, USA. Guinness Book of World Records

Should You Look at a Keyboard When Typing?

If you want to achieve really fast typing speeds, then you need to be able to type without looking at the keyboard. People who literally type by touch, don't need to glance back and fore from their fingers to the paper or screen that they are copying. Each glance not needed saves milliseconds of time, and over several pages increases the word-per-minute score substantially. They can concentrate on the document being produced and not the keys under their fingers.

Is It Possible to Type 300 WPM?

Yes it is physically possible to type at 300 WPM, but only for short periods of a few minutes or less. Typing speed is determined by the dexterity and speed of your fingers, and the type of keyboard used. In world-class typing competitions, one or two individuals may achieve these high speeds. However, the strain on their fingers means that even expert typists can only average around 175 WPM over periods longer than 5 minutes.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.