Touch Typing In Ten Hours
Before beginning to touch type you will need suitable equipment. Today this will usually be either a desktop or laptop computer and a word processing package such as Microsoft Word. You will also need a good sized desk and adjustable chair with a supporting backrest.
How you position yourself at your desk will determine your comfort whilst touch typing.
In particular, take heed of the following:
- HEAD. This should be erect. If you tilt your head forwards it puts a strain on your neck. So does watching your fingers. A poor head position can result in headaches.
- SHOULDERS. These should be relaxed.
- ELBOWS. Keep them close to your body.
- FINGERS. Curve your fingers, but not unnaturally so. You may need to raise your fingers more if you are using a laptop computer rather than a traditional keyboard. This is because the keys on a laptop are closer together and the keyboard itself is flatter.
- WRISTS. Your wrists should be flat. Aim for a straight line from the knuckles of your middle fingers to your elbows.
- FEET. Keep your feet flat on the floor and do not cross your legs.
Specific points for using a laptop computer
Typing on a laptop is not as easy as using a conventional keyboard. You will need to raise your fingers, rather like typing on an old-fashioned manual typewriter, in order to compensate for the keys being closer together and the flatter board. You might find it preferable to plug in an external keyboard whilst you are learning to touch type or to use a cordless keyboard, although if you plan to use your laptop all the time it could be best to learn on it from the beginning.
Most laptops come with a touchpad and at least two buttons underneath it. When you move your fingers over the touchpad it moves the cursor on your screen. The left and right buttons underneath it are similar to the left and right buttons on a mouse. Some laptops also have a centre button which acts as a 4-way scroll, to scroll up or down and move left or right on a page. If you are not happy with this arrangement it is a simple job to plug in an external mouse, or use a cordless mouse.
General points to bear in mind whatever type of computer you use
- Use a copy holder whenever possible. They can be purchased cheaply and either stand on the desk or are attached to the monitor. At first it will be best to place the hand chart on this holder, but eventually your work can go there, thus reducing the chance of any eye strain.
- Make sure the room lighting is correct. If you are working in an office various rules and regulations will dictate where your equipment is positioned. If you are at home make sure you have the window behind your monitor. There should be no glare, either from lighting or sunshine. It is possible to buy a filter to place on the front of your monitor screen.
- Move about frequently so that you don't stiffen up. Take regular breaks – at least ten minutes every hour.
- Have regular eye checks – at least every two years.
And off we go . . .
Use the Courier New font, 12 point size for all the drills. (See Reference Guide page 109.) This is what we call a fixed font so that each letter takes up the same amount of space, and your lines will all finish at the same point. It is also a good idea to use double line spacing (see Reference Guide page 108), so that you can see your work more clearly.
There are eight keys on the keyboard known as the ‘Home Keys’. They are situated in the middle of the keyboard, and from left to right they are a, s, d, f, j, k, l, ;. The four fingers of your left hand go over the a s d f and the four fingers of your right hand go over the j k l and ;. Most computer keyboards have raised points on the f and j to help you locate the right keys without looking. Your fingers should always hover over these eight keys and from this position you reach up and down to every letter, figure and symbol on the keyboard. (See the hand chart for guidance.)
Type each line until it is perfect and, most importantly, until it can be typed without looking at the keys or your fingers. This is what is known as ‘touch typing’. At first each line may take many attempts but this does not matter.
- Keep your fingers on the Home Keys.
- Say the letters to yourself as you type them.
- Make sure you do not get into bad habits by using the wrong finger for the letter you are typing.
- Glance at the hand chart whenever necessary – do not look at the keys or your fingers.
- Go slowly – work at your own pace. Speed and accuracy need to come together.
- Watch your posture.
Above all, remember that successful touch typing takes time and effort. There is nothing clever about it – determination and hard work singles out the good from the bad – as in most things. If you are tired, something starts to ache or everything starts to go wrong, leave it for another time. You will be surprised just how quickly your speed and accuracy will build up if you work hard enough.