Learning to Type
By Shlomo Perets, MicroType
If you regard touch-typing as a secretarial
skill, and not an essential writing skill, consider the following:
- How much time do you waste looking backwards
and forwards from the screen to your paper, and locating your
place on both screen and paper each time? Even if it is only
a few seconds, it can add up.
- How does this split concentration affect
your work? Glancing at the keyboard disrupts your flow of thoughts
and ideas -- affecting your writing and efficiency.
- How many typing errors do you make? How
much energy goes into finding and correcting them (not to mention
those that slip through unnoticed and end up in print!). Some
typos are unique to two-finger typing.
Touch-typing eliminates most typing errors.
Touch-typing should not be confused with typing fast. Even if
you do the two-finger jig fairly well, the above points remain
Keyboarding should be as "transparent"
as walking. Most walk without regarding it as an activity, doing
other activities simultaneously. I personally think that typing
should be taught as a basic skill at all elementary/high schools
(as is already done in several countries). More and more professionals
in all fields use computers and E-mail as part of their everyday
activities, so why not do it efficiently?
How many of you who started off with a
different profession and worked your way into technical writing
know how to touch type? And, if you don't, how do you go about
learning this skill?
On the average, it takes 10-14 hours (in
3-15 consecutive days) to learn how to touch-type at a rate of
about 15 words per minute. Success and improvement depend on
your determination to stick with ten fingers after you have finished
learning. For those who might hesitate, consider that you will
more than recover the learning time in a few weeks.
Even if you have been two-finger typing
for years, you can make the shift to touch-typing! You can learn
to touch-type using a computer program or an old fashioned book.
Both have lessons providing concentrated practice on a few keys.
New keys are added after mastering previous keys (i.e. typing
them without having to think about where they are located on
Most touch-typing books are very similar,
and you don't have to find one written specifically for computer
people. Books which teach how to touch-type on a typewriter are
equally suitable, as you mainly need to concentrate on the 40
main keys (together with shift key) that are used most frequently,
and these are common to typewriters and keyboards.
Note that when using a computer, you should
also learn to use the main keys together with the Ctrl and Alt
keys -- this is very useful for keyboard shortcuts. Some special
keys (like the backslash) are placed differently in various keyboard,
and can be chosen by sight. You may want to learn to touch-type
a few of the special keys if you use them frequently.
Touch-typing programs can be more efficient
than learning from typing books. There are a number of simple
programs which provide the same type of training as a book does,
with the advantage of being available on your computer. There
are also number first-class (and more expensive) programs which
gather information to create a learner profile and modify themselves
in real time according to actual performance. Lessons and drills
are automatically adjusted so that no time is wasted on keys
already mastered while the program makes you concentrate on weak
learning touch-typing can be boring. It is argued that some people
are more receptive to learning touch-typing when they are listening
to classical music.
Originally published in i-Contact,
publication of the Society for Technical Communication, Israel
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