Among the first educational books and tools that DDE put together was an online typing course and book. The typing textbook that accompanies the course (Keyboarding Coach) is full of exercises and tips to help anyone, from beginner to experienced typists, fine tune and grow their skills. The following tips are excerpted from the DDE textbook, Keyboarding Coach: Typing in the Modern Day.
If you’ve found yourself at this plateau or your speed has not been increasing with the more that you practice, here are some things to consider that could help you further advance your typing skills.
1. Watch people that type very quickly
One easy thing that you can do is watch someone that you know that can use a keyboard very well. There may be some things that you didn’t realize that you were doing wrong, and it may introduce you to some movements that you could integrate into your own typing. Doing this may even motivate you to want to reach a faster pace with your own typing!
2. Learn how to type words, not just letters
As your speed builds up you may notice that you are no longer actually thinking about what letters you are pushing, but you are thinking about the words that you are typing and your fingers are doing the rest. This is because your brain isn’t actually remembering where the keys are but instead, your memory is recalling the movements of your fingers to create those specific words. This becomes apparent when you try to type a word that you seldom use or see; you will slow down because you are thinking about the individual letters in that word.
3. Learn parsing
Parsing involves looking at a word and breaking it down into its components. When we type, we type in “bursts”. These “bursts” are the combinations of letters that we know because we have typed them over and over again until they have become second nature. Parsing allows us to use the combinations and “bursts” of letters that we know to speed up our keyboarding. For example, when you look at the sentence:
“Jumping elephants are dangerous around sleeping infants.”
“Jump-ing ele-ph-ants are dan-ge-rous ar-ound sl-eep-ing in-f-ants”
You will notice that each section broken by the dashes is easier to type that trying to think about typing out the whole word. This technique may have come naturally to you but, if not, this may be something that may be worthwhile to spend some time thinking about when you are typing.
4. Keyboarding calisthenics
An effective method to increase your speed quickly is to practice your typing in a focused manner. This can be done with exercises focused on the movements that are most commonly used. Common words (this, the, then) as well as common prefixes (in-, pre- im-, re-, be-, etc…) and suffixes (-ing, -ed, -er, -est, etc…) could be repeated until they can be typed quickly without having to think about the individual letters.
5. Become aware of your mistakes
Most of the time, when you make a mistake it is a mistake that you will likely make again so be sure to treat it as a learning experience. When you are trying to type quickly you need to be able to trust your fingers so If you find that you are consistently hitting a wrong key (i.e. you constantly type a b instead of an n) take the time to practice those areas where you are experiencing inaccuracies. Jot down specific words that give you trouble and then use that list as a practice sheet for your keyboard calisthenics (as described in the previous point).
6. Don’t tense up
One thing that you may notice with skilled keyboardists is how easy and non-strained that they appear when typing quickly. Some individuals may tense up more than others so if you find yourself with tight fingers and wrists, give your fingers a wiggle and remember to relax! Tensing up while trying to type quickly may make you overthink your finger positions, slow down your overall WPM, and place unhealthy strain on joints and muscles. Common relaxation techniques like visualization, deep breathing, and meditation may help, but do what works best for you. Keyboarding should not be stressful so learning to enjoy it will actually help to boost your speed!
The root of what is holding back your typing speed is likely one of these sources so be sure to analyze and identify the specifics of what you need to work on. It is easy to reach a workable typing speed and stop pushing yourself to type faster but in order to turn that useful skill into an impressive asset, you need to continually strive to reach higher goals. Keep the above pointers in mind and aim to reach those keyboarding speeds that you never thought were possible!