Teaching Yourself Keyboarding and Health Precautions

Methods of Typing

There are two ways to keyboard: “hen-pecking” with 2, 4, or 6 fingers, and “touch-typing”, where you keep your head up, and type with all ten of your fingers, based on memory of the location of the keys.  Each method can be effective, but you’ll get ultimately much faster speeds with proper touch-typing.

Health Pre-caution

But, and this is a big But, improperly touch-typing can actually be much more un-healthy to your hands than hen-pecking.  This is particularly true for the back of your hands at your wrist joint.  It is common for people to keep their wrist in contact with the desk, and so arch back their hands in an un-natural position, which can lead to a repetitive stress injury.  The key, therefore, is to keep your wrists up, maintaining a flat plain from your forearms across the back of your hands.

In the beginning, as you are learning, keeping your hands in the proper position can be quite difficult.  This is because you have not built up the strength necessary to maintain the position.  But, over time, and with practice, you will build the strength needed.  Though taking regular rests is always important.  

So the following points are intended to give you merely an introduction to (or review of) proper keyboarding technique. 

1.  Speed is not what it’s about; it’s about accuracy, 100% accuracy.  Only once you achieve accuracy will speed increase.  Never, ever, ever try for speed; let it come naturally.

2.  It’s 100% accuracy, not 99% or less you’re trying to achieve, because it is the learning and reinforcing of mistakes that is so hard to extinguish from your brain, which causes problems.  The mantra needs to be: Slow, Slow, Slow.

3.  Obtain a typing tutorial which allows you to customize the lessons.  You want to be able to repeat lessons until you achieve 100% accuracy.

4.  It’s better to learn the proper placement of all of the alphabet and number keys first, before attempting strings of words.  Note that there are only 26 things to learn in order to be able to type any word; that’s not a whole lot, so take your time learning the basics perfectly.

5.  To make better muscle memory connections as you learn, I think it’s better to learn finger groups together; for example, practicing the left pinky’s aqaz together, rather than the traditional focus on home keys.

6.  Learning and using numbers initially will help, as it forces you to keep your wrists up.

7.  Main points regarding proper posture:  Bum back, straight back, slight lean forward, feet on the floor, G & H in the middle, shoulders relaxed, fingers on the home keys, Wrists Up, don’t look down.

8.  Main points regarding key pressing: It’s a press, (as in a move to the key, and a gentle press down) not a hit or a strike, always bring your fingers back to the home keys, left pinkie for right hand capital keys, and the converse, try to learn to use both thumbs for the space bar, alternating accordingly, and, once again: Wrists Up.

9.  As you increase your speed you should be typing in bursts, not at a steady rhythm; diphthongs and other common letter combinations will naturally be typed more quickly.  But the important implication of this is to Slow Down for all other key combinations - it’s not a matter of speeding up for the common combinations, it’s a matter of slowing down for the less common combinations.

10.  As you get better, continue to work only at accuracy.  When you make a mistake it means you’re going to fast, so you should slow down.

11.  To initially learn, and then for warming-up, try the following individual finger combinations in a word processing document:

aq1 aqaz sw2 swsx de3 dedc fr4 frfv frft ftfg fgfv fvb fvfb ju7 ju76 jujm juy jujy jyjh jhjn jnjm ki8 kik, lo9 lol. ;p0 ;p;/  And then you could type the alphabet in order to warm up.