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Touch Typing Is Alive and Well

An old Compaq keyboard

An old Compaq keyboard

A Kindle keyboard

A Kindle keyboard

You don’t know what touch-typing is?

Please remember that you only have to click on a photograph to magnify it.

At one time it was essential that all would-be typists were taught how to touch-type. Touch-typing was a way of watching what you were typing on paper, instead of always looking down at the typewriter keys. In the modern world, touch-pads and touch-screens have replaced touch-typing, but it still has a place – a vital place.

Consider your own situation; do your friends deem you to be archaic because you still use a desktop computer? Do you still use a QWERTY keyboard?

And, more importantly, do you still use the hunt- and- peck method of typing? If you answered ‘yes’ to all three questions, think about streamlining your input by learning to touch-type. Imagine the masses of time you will save by looking at the monitor all of the time instead of nodding your head up and down like a scratching chicken as you try to find the right key.

Think of the oodles of time you could save for creativity instead of key finding.

Touch- typing isn’t difficult; it is simply a matter of memorizing keys – and having flexible fingers. The younger you are, the more flexible your fingers will be, but trust me when I tell you that even arthritic fingers can learn how to touch-type. By learning how to touch-type, you will be exercising your mental and physical agility. Once you have mastered the skill, you will enter text much more accurately and not spend so much time correcting errors.

The raised bars on the 'F' and 'J' keys.

The raised bars on the 'F' and 'J' keys.

Red markers on the Home Keys

Red markers on the Home Keys

The fingers on the Home Keys

The fingers on the Home Keys

The Home Keys

Have a look at your keyboard.

Can you see the tiny raised bar or dot on the ‘F’ or ‘J’ key? These slight elevations mark where your index fingers go on the ‘home keys’ in the ‘home row’.

Your left hand will rest lightly on the A, S, D, and F keys. Your right hand will rest lightly on the J, K, L and a punctuation key.

In the old days, when typewriters were mechanical or electrical, these keys were not marked; it was considered unnecessary. Even a novice typist knew that if they placed their left pinkie on the extreme left key – the ‘A’, the ring finger had to rest on the ‘S’, the middle finger had to rest on the ‘D’ and therefore the index finger had to rest on the ‘F’.

And being aware that there was always a two key gap (the G & H) between the left index finger and the right index finger, meant that the right index finger HAD to rest on the ‘J’, the middle finger had to rest on the ‘K’, the ring finger had to rest on the ‘L’ and the pinkie had to rest on the next key, which could be either a colon or some other punctuation mark. The thumb, or thumbs, would rest on the space bar.

‘Touch Typing’ as a description, has to be viewed with caution. According to Wikipaedia, it was the name given to the system in 1888 by its inventor, Frank E. McGurrin, a court stenographer. It doesn’t imply that the keys can be depressed by touch; it means the keys can be found by touch. In the days of mechanical typewriters, the 3 or 4 rows of keys were stepped vertically, and took a fair amount of pressure to operate.

The keys your Left Hand has to operate

The keys your Left Hand has to operate

Your Left Hand

After satisfying yourself on locating the home keys, the other keys are logical.

The left pinkie would operate 1, Q, A, Z. (the green keys)

(antique typewriters didn’t have the 1, so the small finger would only operate the Q, A, Z. As there was no Zero either, the right hand pinkie only had to operate the P and another two punctuation mark keys, however, the right hand had to operate the carriage return, so it didn’t have an easier time of it than the left hand. Nowadays, of course it has to operate the mouse or touch pad.)

The left ring finger operates the 2, W, S, X (the yellow keys)

The middle finger operates the 3, E, D, C. (the blue keys)

The index finger operates the 4, R, F, and V. (the red keys)

But it also has to cover half of the gap between it and the right index finger, so it also operates 5, T, G, B. (the red keys)

The keys your Right Hand has to operate

The keys your Right Hand has to operate

Your Right hand

The index finger has to work the 7, U, J, M, (the red keys)

But it also has to cover half of the gap between it and the left index finger so it also operates the 6, Y, H, N. (the red keys)

The middle finger does the 8, I, K. (the blue keys)

The ring finger does 9, O, L, and . (the yellow keys)

And the pinkie covers 0, P, ; and / (the green keys)

(The punctuation marks can be different on different makes of keyboard, and modern keyboards have peripheral keys that couldn’t have been envisaged even a quarter of a century ago, resulting in extra work for your poor appendages. But at least the keys are a whole lot easier to work.)

If you can’t already touch-type, I suggest you give it a try; there are courses online, either inexpensive or free.

I’m sitting here at my desktop watching my wife at her computer as her head goes up as she looks at the monitor and down and sideways as she looks for the correct keys - one of these days her head is going to come loose. Talk about one finger typing! The irony is that she has been working with computers most of her life and she thinks touch typing is just for typists – duh!

If all you ever seem to do is tweet - give your thumb a rest, folks. Make the other digits work for a change.


John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on August 10, 2013:

You could be right Alexey. In fact you probably are right. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Alexey on August 09, 2013:

You need to invest some time to online typing lessons at http://www.ratatype.com/ and http://www.sense-lang.org/

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on May 06, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Nell. I don't know if my fingers would be flexible enough to use an old manual typewriter now. I remember the ecstasy of my first 'golf ball' typewriter (and my first use of a punch-card). And this week we acquired 3 laptops at a storage locker sale - the touch-pad I don't like, but the keys!!!! All you have to do is breathe on them. Heaven.

Nell Rose from England on May 06, 2012:

Hi John, yes I remember learning in school, and it came in really handy for working in an office for years. In fact I was told to slow down by my boss because I was too fast! lol! I actually wrote a book back in the eighties, never got it published and its still sitting in the drawer! but I did it all on an old electric typewriter! my first one was an old manual one and it was so difficult going back using it recently as a joke, my fingers would not push down those keys! lol!

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on May 01, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting drbj. You probably just took the raised bars for granted, and being a touch typist you wouldn't need to know about the bumps. Thanks for the pat on the back re swimming - THAT was terrifying.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 01, 2012:

Since I learned touch typing in the Pleistocene Era, John, I was amazed by the fact you supplied that the f and j keys have a little raised ridge to identify them by touch. Never noticed before. Thanks for this interesting info. And congrats for learning to swim in your 70s.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on April 30, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting bearnmom. Snap! Although I'm ever so slightly older than you by about a thousand years, I took a touch typing course in the 50's. I don't understand why it isn't compulsary, except nowadays teenagers will be growing larger thumbs and will be confused by the word 'typing'. Thank you again.

Laura L Scotty from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 30, 2012:

Okay, I'm a throw back from the 50's and a manual typing course. I still type by the touch method and I'm still working in an office scenario at the ripe old age of 67. Comments have been made about the speed of my typing and it all comes from the touch method.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on April 29, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by and commenting LPogue. I'm in complete agreement with you LPogue. I learned how to touch-type in my teens, and I think it should be a necessity at school. A friend of mine who is a computer programmer, got fed up with me nagging him about touch typing, and he finally took lessons - since then he has been the one raving about how much time it's saved him. Thank you again.

John MacNab (author) from the banks of the St. Lawrence on April 29, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting mckbirdbks. I learned how to swim in my 70's auld yin, and I was s**t scared of water. So....there is nothing at all to prevent your fingers learning a new skill. All is well, and I trust all is well with you? Thank you again. (Only 13 typos - wow, you are good.)

LPogue from Missouri on April 29, 2012:

There is lots of software that will help you learn to touch-type. Touch-typing is a skill I think everyone that uses a keyboard should learn. It saves tons of time.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on April 29, 2012:

So you think it is possible at this stage to teach each of my fingers where thy belong on a keyboard. You sir are an optomist. Hope all is well. (Only thirteen typos needed to be corrected.)