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How to Touch Type: A Complete Guide for Beginners

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I have worked in a variety of job fields. In every job, touch typing has been of immense help.

This is the Olivetti Lettera 32 a mechanical typewriter made in 1963.

This is the Olivetti Lettera 32 a mechanical typewriter made in 1963.

How to Touch Type: Everything You Need to Know

Today when computers are omnipresent, the need to be fast on a keyboard is a necessity. Typing on the computer without looking at the keyboard, also known as touch typing, is a skill required in many different situations. Maybe you are in a job that is computer-based, or perhaps you are in college; in either scenario, touch typing would indeed make life faster and easier.

So, here I present a simple one-page guide to learn to touch type. Consider this article as a crash course to learn to touch type for free.

In this article, you'll learn how to use all ten fingers to type and which finger to use when pressing a letter, along with detailed and simple instructions.

Basics of Touch Typing

Touch typing basically means using all ten fingers to type. Each key on the keyboard is associated with a specific finger. It might be difficult at the start to use all fingers, but as you spend more time practicing, it becomes easier and faster.

Some of you already may have good typing speed, but you do not use all of your fingers. This means you are not utilizing the full potential of your typing capabilities. The process of learning to type is boring, but when it comes to the benefits, they are quite immense.

Each key is associated with a finger which is color coded for easy reference.

Each key is associated with a finger which is color coded for easy reference.

Explanation of the Image

The above image represents the correct finger position for typing. Don't try to do this too fast and without memorizing the keyboard layout first. It will make the process even more difficult, and you might get discouraged. You'll come to know all the positions only by daily practice.

  • Red - Keys to be pressed by the left hand with your pinky finger/little finger.
  • Orange - Keys to be pressed by the left hand with your ring finger.
  • Yellow - Keys to be pressed by the left hand with your middle finger.
  • Green - Keys to be pressed by the left hand with your index finger/forefinger.
  • Light Blue - Keys to be pressed by the right hand with your index finger/forefinger.
  • Dark Blue - Keys to be pressed by the right hand with your middle finger.
  • Violet - Keys to be pressed by the right hand with your ring finger.
  • Purple - Keys to be pressed by the right hand with your pinky finger/little finger.
  • Gray - You should use your thumb for pressing the Spacebar which is shown in gray color.

Which Finger to Use When Pressing a Key

LetterFinger Hand

q, a, z, Tab, Shift, and Caps Lock

Pinky

Left

w, s, and x

Ring

Left

e, d, and c

Middle

Left

r, f, v, b, g, and t

Index

Left

p, ; (Semicolon) , : (Colon), ' (Apostrophe), "" (Quotation Mark), / (Slash), ? (Question Mark), { } (Curly Braces), [ ] (Brackets), \ (Backslash), | (Vertical Bar), Shift, Backspace, and Enter

Pinky

Right

o,l, ". (Full Stop)", and > (Greater than)

Ring

Right

i, k, ", (Comma)", and < (Greater Than)

Middle

Right

u, j, n, m, h, and y

Index

Right

Space Bar

Thumb

Right and Left

Remembering Letter-Finger Association Is Very Important

how-to-learn-typing

Typing Numbers

The number-finger association

The number-finger association

Home Position of Your Hands

Touch typing has a starting position (known as home position) for your hands.

Below is an explanation on how you should place your fingers on the keyboard.

The position of the left hand:

  • Little finger on the letter 'a'.
  • Ring finger on the letter 's'.
  • Middle finger on the letter 'd'.
  • Index finger on the letter 'f'.

The position of the right hand:

  • Little finger on the letter ';'.
  • Ring finger on the letter 'l'.
  • Middle finger on the letter 'k'.
  • Index finger on the letter 'j'.
This is the way you should place your fingers

This is the way you should place your fingers

How to Remember the Keys

  • QWERTY: If you haven't noticed yet all the keyboards will have a similar layout. The design is known as the QWERTY layout. It is an industry standard for keyboard design. Even your smartphone's touch key will use QWERTY.
Standard layout for any keyboard may it be Macbook or any other

Standard layout for any keyboard may it be Macbook or any other

  • F and J Indication: Place your left hand on a, s, d, f and right on j, k, l, ;. There are small little markers on keys F and L. Every keyboard will have it. The purpose of having those markers is to place your hands on them without looking at it.
Notice the markers

Notice the markers

Using Mnemonics and Almena Jingle

  • Mnemonics: One of the most popular methods to remember key location is to create your own mnemonics or rhymes. So far example, for A, S, D, F it could be All Said and Done Finally (middle row, left-hand)

Let me try some more:

  • J, K, L - Just Keep Loving (Middle row, right-hand)
  • Q, W, E, R, T, Y - For a new learner, this is the easiest to remember. Right? QWERTY layout (Top row, left-hand except the letter Y)
  • P, O, I, U, Y - Park Over In Upper Yard (Top row, right-hand)
  • Z, X, C, V - Zoology eXercise Completed (Last row, left hand)
  • M, N, B - Monika Never Bores (Last row, right-hand)
  • G, H - Go Home (Middle row, centre keys)

The above is only an example. The idea is to create your own mnemonics so that it becomes much easier to remember.

  • Almena Jingle: Yet another way to remember is this jingle. A lady by the name of Almena King created this to teach keyboarding to elementary school kids. Surely, this can be used by people in any age group. Each sentence represents an alphabet starting from the top towards the bottom. The below is courtesy AlmenaTyping.com.

Quiet Aunt Zelda - Left-hand pinky finger

Want Something eXtra - Left-hand ring finger

Every Dollar Counts - Left-hand middle finger

Run From Vicky To Get Betty - Left-hand index finger

You Have Nothing Uncle Joe's Mad - Right-hand index finger

I'm King Comma - Right-hand middle finger

Over Longer Periods - Right-hand ring finger

Pretty - Left-hand pinky finger

Getting the Right Keyboard

The best thing to do is to get a good, ergonomic keyboard that feels comfortable as doing so will make the learning process much easier. The keyboard of I use is the IBM Model M keyboard. This is an old model, but the keys are properly spaced out. Modern-day keyboards use a rubber-switch beneath the buttons and are so soft that for a new learner it gets tough to know if you pressed the key or not. The benefit of the IBM is that it uses a buckling spring mechanism which makes it a little hard on fingers, but that helps users overcome the issue of not knowing if a key was pressed hard enough. The durability of this keyboard is unquestionable. The one I bought 10-12 years back is still consistent and functional. If you are unable to locate one, I suggest getting the Unicomp Ultra Classic Model M Keyboard. It has many of the same specs as the IBM, and it uses the same buckling spring mechanism.

Another important aspect is not to look at the keyboard while typing. Invariably, one does look at the keys in the learning stages. To avoid this, many people use a special type of keyboard cover which hides the alphabet. This helps in registering key positions in your subconscious mind, but I'm not a big fan of this as it slows down the process initially.

Video Tutorial on Typing

Practice Is the Key

In learning to type it all boils down to three points.

  1. Practice
  2. Some more practice
  3. And then some more practice

Now it's up to you to set a target time frame in which you'll learn this.

Free 30 Day Touch Typing Course

In my opinion, if you can devote about 45-60 minutes daily to practicing your typing skills, then you can learn how to touch type in 30 days. And for this goal, I'm outlining a daily training regimen with specific exercises for each day. But ultimately it is the practice, and the dedication that you put in that will show up on the screen, literally!!!

I have written this course with a single exercise for each day. If you want to, you can complete two exercises in a single day and finish this course in 15 days.

For all the exercises below, open the word program on your computer and type for an entire page or two. The more, the better. Save all the work that you've done in a specific folder so that you can evaluate it at a later stage.

If you have a printer, then print those pages and file it in a folder and identify your mistakes and if you are not satisfied with your effort then repeat the exercise once again. Doing that will help you tremendously.

Important Points to Keep in Mind Throughout the Tutorial

Keep your hands at the home position for all the exercise. Do not lift your hands completely away from the home position.

Another thing is if you make mistakes then don't use the backspace button, keep going. Just try not to repeat them.

Day 1 to 7: Basic Typing Lessons

Let's get started.

  • Day 1

Type the words keeping your hands at the home position.

asdf ;lkj

Start from 'a' and finish with 'j'

It's 'a' from left pinky, 's' from left ring finger, 'd' from left middle finger, and 'f' from the left index finger. Then hit the space bar with your thumb. After that semicolon from your right pinky, 'l' from right ring finger, 'k' from right mid-finger, and finally 'j' from the right index finger.

Then once again press the space bar with your thumb and continue the same sequence for the entire page.

  • Day 2

rtyu rtyu

Reminding one more time to keep your hands at the home position. Type the letters only with the fingers associated with them.

'r' from the left index, 't' from the left index, 'y' from the right index and 'u' from the right index. Space with your thumb. Then repeat the same for 2 pages.

Now for further exercises, I won't repeat the fingers associated with the letter. Kindly refer to the above table for reference.

  • Day 3

cvnm cvnm

  • Day 4

gfdsa hjkl;

  • Day 5

qpwo qpwo

  • Day 6

adgsf ;hljk

  • Day 7

zmxie zmxie

Day 8 to 15: Typing Words and More

  • Day 8

by so as to if an ex go in do it of on or up oh be at is

  • Day 9

Do Greater Larger Stronger Better Longer Easier

Type the above sentence as it is, by using shift keys to big alphabets. Use the shift with the correct finger. For example, when typing Stronger press the shift key with your right hand and for Better use your right hand for pressing the shift key.

  • Day 10

Think of ten words and start typing that into two pages.

Type, "There are 30/31 days in a month" for half a page and "There are 7 days in a week" for the other half. "There are 12 months in a year" for the next page. And if you still have steam left, write "365 days make a year".

  • Day 11

Today is the day for testing your speed and accuracy.

http://10fastfingers.com/typing-test/english

Visit the above link and take the small 1-minute test to check your speed and accuracy.

At the end of the test, it will show you your speed in WPM (means words per minute) and your accuracy percentage. If your score is 15-20 WPM with 90% accuracy that is considered absolutely good.

  • Day 12

abcdefjhijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefjhijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Type this for as many pages as you like. After finishing one sequence press the space bar with your thumb and continue. One more point is that if you are right-handed then use your right thumb and left thumb if left-handed.

  • Day 13

zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihjfedcba zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihjfedcba

Type alphabets starting from z and ending and a.

  • Day 14

abcdefjhijklmnopqrstuvwxyz zyxwvutsrqponmlkjihjfedcba

Today's exercise is the most important. If you can do this with ease, then half the battle is done.

Side note: My recommendation is you spend more time practicing the exercises mentioned in the first 14 days. The crux of this tutorial is in the first two-weeks.

  • Day 15

Repeat the above exercise.

Also, type "1 feet equals 30.48 cm" and "1 kg is 2.205 lbs" for 2 pages each.

This is a self-learning tutorial, so you are the best judge of your progress. Rate yourself in the category of not good, okay, or good.

If you find yourself in the first two categories, then repeat this week's exercise for one more week, and I'm sure you will feel much more confident.

Day 16 to 23: Advanced Lessons and Ten Finger Typing

  • Day 16

Think of ten names and start typing for today's exercise. If you were able to do all the exercises until day 15, then today's exercise will be a cakewalk for you.

  • Day 17

Today's exercise is to type the below line for 5 pages. This phrase contains all the letters of the English alphabet.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

  • Day 18

Today is your reward day. Go to this website and pick any one of games and start playing it for as much time you want. After some time try a different game and then another.

http://www.rapidtyping.com/online-typing-games.html

There are many different games on this website which are a great addition to keep you going.

  • Day 19

Some sentences of the above nature (contains every alphabet). Type each sentence for at least 1 page.

Crazy Fredericka bought many very exquisite opal jewels

Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz. (Use the full stop too)

The five boxing wizards jump quickly.

A quick movement of the enemy will jeopardize six gunboats.

Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.

  • Day 20

Go to this page for more such examples and practice it.

http://www.rinkworks.com/words/pangrams.shtml

  • Day 21

Take the speed test once again from the link which I provided on Day 11. Compare your scores from Day 11. If you see your speed up at around 18-20 WPM, then you are on the right track.

If it still shows that your WPM is around 10-12 or even less, then you need to practice more.

  • Day 22

Take today's newspaper and start to type the front page news.

  • Day 23

Repeat yesterday's exercise with today's newspaper.

Day 24 to Day 30: Improving Accuracy and Final Speed Test

  • Day 24

Take that book you recently bought and type five chapters from that.

  • Day 25

Rest. Take a notebook and try to write down where are you going short, what needs to be done to make it better. Jog your thought process, and you will have answers to most of your questions. I have mentioned some websites at the end of this article.
Select one which you find interesting and spend some time on it.

  • Day 26 to Day 29

For the next three days practice as much as possible. Type anything and everything that you like.

  • Day 30

It's test time once again. I hope that this time your speed shows up as 35 WPM and accuracy as 95%.

What Is the General Acceptable Speed?

Typing speed is calculated by the measure known as WPM. WPM stands for words per minute and any word with 5 or more letters is counted a word. So for example, "I gave" is a counted as a single word and longer words like "friendship" are counted as two words.

The generally accepted WPM is around 35-40 with an accuracy above 90 percent. Some office positions won't even bother to ask your speed.

Jobs such as transcription specialist, secretary to the CEO, and receptionist require speed upwards of 60-70 WPM. For data entry jobs, more speed the better, but the asking speed is more in the range of 70-80 WPM. If you are considering the field of journalism, then touch typing will be of tremendous help. Freelance/online writers often have to adhere to deadlines so they should practice having speeds of over 50 WPM.

Did You Know?

The Guinness World Record of fastest realtime typing is held by Mark Kislingbury of Houston, Texas, USA with 360 wpm and accuracy of 97.23%.

Useful Websites and Software

There are scores of websites on the web which offer free lessons, games, free software, and many other ways to learn this. Read as much as possible. Apply the tips which you get from them. Make the process of learning as inclusive as possible.

Below are some of my recommendations:

  1. RataType.com - This requires signup to use all the features of this website. The learn section on the website has some neatly arranged information. You'll learn about the correct sitting posture, finger motion, and some awesome info-graphics.
  2. Typing.com - This is a veteran when it comes to such online resources. Here you'll find basic to advanced lessons, games, and a regularly updated blog which features helpful topics on all things typing.
  3. 10FastFingers.com - My choice of typing test website is this. Typing tests are divided into three sections: easy, advanced, and challenger. There is also an option of competing with other online users. I tried, and it shows a speed of 58 wpm with an accuracy of 98.81%, I'm impressed.
  4. TypeRacer.com - This is a bit advanced one out there. Visit this once you are through with using all your fingers to type. Unlike others, the primary focus here is increasing your typing speed. You can race with other users or invite your friends.
  5. TypingGames.zone - This website has a good collection of typing games. This has got a good blend of games like Typing Attack (shooting), Typing Racer (car racing), a remodeled snake game, Type and Jump and Run (like Super Mario).

I had fun writing this tutorial, and I believe that following this training will help you learn touch typing. If you have any doubts, then you can add a comment below, and I'd be happy to help.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Aarav

Comments

Kevin on November 14, 2019:

There are so a man advantages to being able to type quickly. With more and more work being taken online, the number of reasons to put some effort into typing faster is increasing more and more.

Let's say you need to type a 3,000 word article. If you type at 30 words per minute you'll spend 1 hour and 40 minutes of your time just typing. If you type 60 wpm you'll spend 50 minutes typing. At 100 wpm you'll spend just 30 mnutes. You just saved yourself over an hour of extra time.

This sort of payoff exists in email, search, research, writing, programming, chat, and all sorts of other online activities suddenly become significantly easier.

I usually use https://rankedtyping.com to continue to learn and also to maintain my typing speed as i find over time my typing speed drops. But just a few minutes each day on a site like this does wonders!

ojas on November 11, 2019:

good article

ivan on October 15, 2019:

Teaching And Practice typing online - https://www.practice-typing.com/

Preeti on September 01, 2019:

How to learn tipping an how can start basic keyboard

rakesh singh on March 10, 2019:

this was easy to start with and simple ,,,,,,,,

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on January 21, 2019:

@Andrea Thanks for the appreciation.

ANDREA FLOYD on January 21, 2019:

I was looking for help to teach my fiance to type with more than 1 finger & found yours via Pinterest. Thank You So Much, It is a Very Good article!

Namrata on December 14, 2018:

Great and very helpful article for Beginners!

Sety Sistee from China on March 26, 2018:

So detailed by heart article!

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on December 14, 2017:

@Brian Excellent suggestion!

Brian Rock from New Jersey on December 14, 2017:

Typing games are awesome for learning to type. I used to love playing Mavis Beacon when I was younger, and by the time I was in middle/high school I was more than proficient. The fundamentals are important, but the game really helps drive it home with practice.

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on November 14, 2017:

@Sunil Thanks for the encouraging word.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on November 14, 2017:

Really helpful and informative. Keep on writing such helping posts.

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on November 08, 2017:

@Eric Typing games are one sure way to practice having fun at the same time.

Eric Farmer from Rockford Illinois on November 08, 2017:

Nice guide. I myself took a online course and I play typing games every once and awhile. I went from not being to touch type at all to being able to do it pretty well.

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on February 24, 2015:

@devisree Happy that it helps. Good to know you!

devisree from India on February 24, 2015:

Very useful Hub.Voted up.

Aarav (author) from Mumbai on February 24, 2015:

@Sunil You are right there were so many typing institutes. All have disappeared or are on the verge of it. Just like you I also learned it at a nearby institute. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

Sunil Kumar Kunnoth from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India) on February 24, 2015:

Interesting topic. Once we all were so familiar with typing, but that was story before the arrival and spread of PCs and internet. I had learnt typing from an institute. But now it is difficult to find an institute teaching typing. You have written well and it is really helpful. Voted up and shared.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 09, 2015:

good tutorial, i still type with one finger on both hands

dr wahid pirzada from Ahmedabad, India on December 26, 2014:

Hmm I can ,I can.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on December 24, 2014:

Wow, you have worked hard on this hub, very useful fir beginners. Good job!!! Voted useful.

Adam Fort from Sydney, Australia on September 20, 2013:

What about tests? Why not to add these to the article http://www.ratatype.com/typing-test/

http://typingtest.com/

Firoz from India on July 07, 2013:

Useful hub to Learn Typing From Scratch. Voted up.