We all know that typing speed matters, but being able to type quickly and accurately is a very rare skill and could be what makes you stand out between you and another equally qualified applicant.
The average typing speed is 60 words per minute, but how can you improve upon that and stay accurate?
Here are our five techniques that we know will help you increase your typing speed and beat the competition to secure that dream job.
Repeat, repeat, repeat– Touch typing is all about memory,training your brain to know where those keys are without having to consciously think about it. As with learning any new skill the best and quickest way to do this is through repetition. Start by doing the same exercise over and over so that your memory learns the movements and the keys.
Technique matters – The fact is touch typing is 80% technique, 10% accuracy and 10% speed. It is important to ensure that you are sat in the correct position and your hands are in the right place.
Strike a pose – Good posture can work wonders and is often overlooked. Poor posture can make you feel uncomfortable, affect your energy levels and improve accuracy. It is so important to allow your fingers to rest in the correct position as this will ensure that you type faster, more accurately and will help prevent injury.
Don’t look at the keyboard – It might sound crazy but it honestly works, try typing and avoid looking at the keyboard. Initially, you may make more mistakes, but you will learn the positions of the keys much more quickly, which in the long term will improve your typing speed.
Test yourself – There are lots of different typing speed testing software out there, so find one that you like and test yourself regularly to see how your are improving
Practice Makes Perfect
The old saying really is true, as with anything the only way to perfect something is to keep at it. Even if you practice typing for 30 minutes each day you will see an improvement in your speed and accuracy, which will make all the difference in standing out from the competition and landing your dream job.
Typing and transcription is not all about getting your fingers moving or your ears listening, it is also about using your eyes to focus on the content that you are typing
We all know that eye care is important, but we usually push it to the back of our mind or leave it until it becomes an issue.
The problem is leaving it until your eyes hurt, you get headaches or something else can mean that it is too late to do something about it.
I find myself daily spending more time focusing on my screen without taking a break to rest my eyes.
What are the symptoms of eye strain?
Sore, tired, burning or itchy eyes
Blurred or double vision
Increased sensitivity to light
So, how can we prevent eye strain?
Work in a well-lit environment ensuring that the room around you is well illuminated so that you aren’t staring at a super bright screen in a dark room
Take regular breaks to ensure that your eyes are focusing on something further away and not just at your screen
Regular eye tests are essential; the optometrist checks the health of your eyes and looks for signs of other medical conditions
Rest your eyes, regularly look away from your computer screen and focus on distant objects. This will relax the focusing muscle inside the eye and reduces eye fatigue
Reduce glare, glare and reflections can cause eye strain, using a anti-glare screen filter can help
Adjust your monitor’s settings, this can help reduce eye strain and fatigue. Make sure the brightness is the same as the surroundings. You can also adjust the monitor’s colour temperature, reducing the amount of blue colours on your screen. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain than longer-wavelength hues, such as orange and red
Wear lenses specifically for computers if you already use glasses or contact lenses, wearing specific prescription glasses/lenses will give you the most comfort whilst working on your computer
We spend more time in front of computers than ever before, but did you know that without correct posture and ergonomic equipment you could be putting yourself at risk of being diagnosed with Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). An estimated 9.5 million working days were lost due to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSDs)
Symptoms include intermittent shooting pains in the hands, wrists, forearms, and back. It is important to have a correct typing position to avoid the development of RSI or other pain related diseases. Very few of us type for less than 2-3 hours a week, but the majority of us who sit for prolonged hours in front of the computer should keep the following in mind.
Here are our top tips for improving your posture:
Head, Back & Shoulders Straight – STOP slouching! Keep your shoulders and back relaxed Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk. Remember sitting in any one position for an extended period is unhealthy. Remember to get up and move around.
Keyboard and Mouse – Your mouse and keyboard should be as close together as possible. Your upper arm should be straight and lower arm at 90 degree straight on the desk. Your wrists should be at same level as the keyboard keys such that the arm muscle share the typing pressure, not only your fingers. You may require a wrist rest to help use your keyboard and mouse correctly, reducing weight on your shoulders. Keep your legs straight down on the floor.
The right chair – Your chair also plays an important role. It should be non-sliding and have five point bases. Fully adjustable with height adjustments, tilts, backrest, and arm rest is ideal. You may also require a separate back rest which will further support your back, as well as a foot rest to ensure that your legs are at a 90 degree angle to your desk.
Monitor: Ensure that the top of your monitor is at eye level (or slightly below). It should be 16 to 28 inches away from the tip of your nose.
Take Regular Breaks – RSA Action advises that you take a 5 minute break after every 30 minutes of continuous activity. Always sit up straight and get some exercise everyday. Be especially mindful of your weight.
Our simple checklist
Check your body position – straighten up and don’t forget to move!
Is your chair at the right height?
Is your desk height suitable and comfortable?
Do you need a footrest?
Is your monitor at the right height and viewing distance?
Is there enough desk space for your keyboard and space for your hands and forearms to rest?
Lets’ get physical
Just because you are sat down, doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise, plus this really isn’t even strenuous!
Eyes – Close your eyes tightly and then open them widely and repeat several times. Remember the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to look away from your screen at something 20 feet away from you.
Hands: Spread your fingers as far apart as you can for ten seconds and then make a tight fist and hold it and repeat.
Neck: Remember that warm up and cool down technique at the gym, slowly turn your head to the side and hold for ten seconds, then turn to the other side and hold. Slowly tilt your head to the side and hold it for ten seconds, then slowly tilt to the other side and hold. Repeat.
Shoulders: It is good to shrug! Slowly shrug shoulders in a circular forward motion, then reverse the motion in a backwards motion and repeat. Spread your arms apart and make slow circles forward and then backwards.
All of these techniques, together with ensuring your work space and equipment is correct will enhance your posture and help prevent RSI occurring.
Words per Minute, commonly abbreviated to WPM is used as a measurement of typing speed or reading speed. Typically each word is standardised to five characters (keystrokes) including spaces and punctuation typed in one minute, divided by five.
The famous sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs.” contains 46 characters. If it takes you one minute to type this sentence, we can calculate your WPM:
Characters Typed in One Minute / 5 = WPM
46 / 5 = 9.2 WPM
What about accuracy?
It is important to try and maintain 100% accuracy, however realistically this is not always possible, but accuracy can be measured. In the quick brown fox example, if you mistyped one letter you would have still typed 9.2 WPM, but with a 98% accuracy.
Gross WPM vs Net WPM
Net Words per Minute is your WPM x your accuracy percentage, however measuring by NetWords can lead to greater mistakes and inaccuracies. As a transcriber or typist it is much better to slow down and be more accurate as ultimately it will lead you to be faster in the long run as you will not need to go back and fix your mistakes.
Accuracy and speed all boils down to the content
With any piece of work, if you know the subject matter or are familiar with the content then it will be easier for you to type quickly and accurately. Simple vocabulary is easier than typing technical or long words such as “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis” (which out of interest is a lung disease and the longest word in the English dictionary!), words such as these require more though processing to establish the correct spelling to ensure higher accuracy.
Here is what you should look out for to get the most accurate gauge for your typing speed:
Length of Test – 3 and 5 minute tests tend to be the most accurate gauge of overall typing speed, they are long enough to produce a repeatable average speed and accuracy
Familiarity of Content – The less familiar you are with the content the better as it will be most accurate, repetition and familiar content is likely to give you an elevated score because simply if you type the same sentence over and over and you will get faster and faster, as you will remember the content and sentence structure.
How do I increase my WPM?
It is like any kind of exam revision, practice, practice, practice!
Find an article that is interesting to you and get typing, start off fast, then slow down to improve your accuracy, you will quickly pick up your speed and accuracy.
Test yourself, there are many typing test sites out there so find one and test yourself with content that you are not familiar with to continue to improve your ability.
The first typewriter recognised as being “commercially successful” is one invented in 1868 by Christopher Latham Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
The patent was sold for $12,000 to a company called Densmore and Yost, who tried to manufacture the machine. The company made an agreement with E. Remington and Sons to produce the machine. In 1874, the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer went on sale. It had a QWERTY keyboard, and was a blind writer, as the keys struck upwards. It meant that the typist couldn’t see the characters as they were being typed. 
Learning to Type
Children these days learn the keyboard very quickly without ever having a typing lesson. Because they navigate the keyboard using one hand or just two fingers, does that make it wrong because they are not using the tried and tested methods?
Teaching children to type
Colour Coded Keyboard
Learning to Touch Type
Learning to type, in the traditional way, is about learning which fingers type which letters, lots of repetition, and then the development of typing by touch or touch typing, by muscle memory. It was believed that this was the most efficient way of typing. Once the individual has mastered touch typing, the development of speed is crucial.
Children today can learn to type by games that teach them whilst having fun. It becomes second nature very quickly as they are using mobile devices with keyboards from a very young age.
Typing speeds used to be the benchmark, along with accuracy, for administrative jobs. The job adverts used to state how many words per minute the individual needed to be able to type in order to be considered for the job. A typing test, at interview, was standard to check speed. Check your typing speed here.
Here are some best practice pointers for safe and efficient typing. You can view the web page here for full details.
Posture – sit straight, elbows at right angles, face the screen with head tilted slightly forward
Home keys – ensure you always return your fingers to the home keys between typing bouts
Take a break – ensure you take regular breaks, to rest your eyes and your hands, wrists and shoulders
Evolution of the Typewriter
Since the invention of the typewriter, the keyboard, as it has become known, has evolved hugely.
The concept of the modern keyboard has also changed, with the invention of mobile technology.
Typing Then and Now
When I learned to type, it was on the old fashioned manual keyboards, in a cold hut, whilst at sixth form college. Having mastered the basics, I then progressed to an electronic word processor that took on another learning journey. The keyboard was more reactive and faster, the keys required less pressure and what had been manual calculations before for tabs or centering were now a more automated process.
Typewriters and word processors gave way to computers, with small screens, small memory capacity and large keyboards. As technology progressed, screens got larger and so did the memory, and keyboards became more streamlined.
Eventually, the computers got smaller in physical size, massive in capacity and screen and keyboard condensed into one device. Typing can still be done manually on touchscreen with fingers or a stylus. But you can now dictate to your device and it is clever enough to recognise what it is you want to say.
The documentation produced has also changed. Letters used to be the only
way to communicate, and these were typewritten or handwritten. Emails became another way to stay in touch, followed by text messaging.
Social media followed, allowing words to reach their recipient in a flash.
Technology exists to allow a user with a disability to type by having their eye movements tracked on a keyboard… Stephen Hawking.
The future is here – you can now buy a virtual keyboard, which a small bluetooth device projects on to a flat surface, offering the user a full keyboard experience. 
Transcription and Typing
Whatever you need typing, Fingertips Typing Services can help. We have years of experience of typing and transcribing a variety of projects, for example, but not limited to:
Property/lettings/estate agents reports
Visit the Fingertips Typing website to see how we can help you work effectively, by providing a friendly, professional and personal service.
Written by: Debbie Rowe, typist for Fingertips Typing Services