How to Learn How to Type

Instructor: Lucinda Stanley

Lucinda has taught business and information technology and has a PhD in Education.

This is an introductory lesson to help you learn to type. We will discuss posture, understanding your keyboard, finding the home row, and which fingers are responsible for each of the keys on the keyboard.

Become a Better Typist

Do you find you can text message using a finger or your thumbs on a virtual keyboard faster than you can type on a physical keyboard? Do you want to increase your speed and look professional while you key? One way to increase your speed and productivity is to learn how to type or key properly.

Posture

Keying properly starts with good posture (yes, your mother was right in getting on you about sitting up or standing up straight!). If you are going to be typing for long periods of time, you need to get in the habit of doing the following:

  • Adjust the monitor and table height - these ease the strain on your eyes and back muscles. If you can't adjust the table, make sure you have a chair that you can adjust!
  • Feet flat on the floor - this distributes the work load to the larger muscles of your legs and your gluteus maximus (your butt). Your thighs should be parallel with the floor. This prevents lower back pain.
  • Sit all the way back in the chair - again, this helps in the distribution of the work load and strain on your lower back muscles when sitting for long periods of time.
  • Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle so that your hands (fingers splayed) can comfortably reach the keys.
  • Position the keyboard so the B key is right in front of your belly button (think B = belly button)

See the following diagram to help you position yourself correctly:

Keyboard Posture

Keyboard

Now that you are in the correct position, the next step is to become familiar with the keyboard.

While there are a variety of keyboards available, most of us will use what is called the QWERTY keyboard. It is named after the first 6 alphabet keys on the upper left of the keyboard. The following is an image of an ergonomic keyboard - ergonomic means it is a machine designed to put as little physical strain as possible on a human user.

Ergonomic Keyboard

Take a look at your keyboard now and find the QWERTY keys. While you are doing that, is your keyboard's 'B' key lined up with your belly button? If not, adjust your keyboard!

Just below that row you will find what is known as the home row. The home row is where your hands should hover as you prepare to type. Your home row should look like this:

Keyboard Home Row

To type more efficiently, you should learn to key without looking at the keys on the keyboard. To help with this, you will notice on the F and J keys a tiny bump - go ahead and run your finger lightly over those keys on your keyboard - did you notice the little bump? It is there to help you align your hands over the home row without having to look down at the keys. Those bumps indicate where the index finger on each hand should be by touch.

With your hand hovered over the home row, you can easily (with practice) reach each of the keys on the keyboard. Each finger is responsible for striking specific keys.

The keyboard is broken into 2 parts - the left side are keys that should be accessed by your left hand, the right side are keys that should be accessed by your right hand. Notice that your right hand will move over to access the special keys (arrow keys, delete, home, end, etc.) and the keypad when it is necessary to use those keys.

The following diagram shows you which fingers you should use to strike each key:

Keying Fingers

Practice, Practice, Practice

Now that you know about proper posture, and have become familiar with your keyboard, the next step is to practice, then practice again, and then practice some more! The object is to build up what is called muscle memory - the more you practice, the more you will remember where each key is and the correct finger will begin to automatically go there as you key.

It is best to start by learning the home row - so beginning with left hand index finger strike the F key, then with your left middle finger strike the D key. With your left ring finger strike the S key and with your left pinky strike the A key. Use your right or left thumb to strike the space bar between letters. Do that again and again until you can do it without thinking and without looking!

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