Skip to comments.What makes a faster typist?
Posted on 04/15/2018 1:34:03 AM PDT by LibWhacker
The largest-ever dataset on typing speeds and styles, based on 136 million keystrokes from 168,000 volunteers, finds that the fastest typists not only make fewer errors, but they often type the next key before the previous one has been released.
Crowdsourcing experiments that allow us to analyse how people interact with computers on a large scale are instrumental for identifying solution principles for the design of next-generation user interfaces.Per Ola Kristensson
The data was collected by researchers from Aalto University in Finland and the University of Cambridge. Volunteers from over 200 countries took the typing test, which is freely available online. Participants were asked to transcribe randomised sentences, and their accuracy and speed were assessed by the researchers.
Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that faster typists make fewer mistakes. However, they also found that the fastest typists also performed between 40 and 70 percent of keystrokes using rollover typing, in which the next key is pressed down before the previous key is lifted. The strategy is well-known in the gaming community but has not been observed in a typing study. The results will be presented later this month at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montréal.
Crowdsourcing experiments that allow us to analyse how people interact with computers on a large scale are instrumental for identifying solution principles for the design of next-generation user interfaces, said study co-author Dr Per Ola Kristensson from Cambridges Department of Engineering.
Most of our knowledge of how people type is based on studies from the typewriter era. Now, decades after the typewriter was replaced by computers, people make different types of mistakes. For example, errors where one letter is replaced by another are now more common, whereas in the typewriter era typists often added or omitted characters.
Another difference is that modern users use their hands differently. Modern keyboards allow us to type keys with different fingers of the same hand with much less force than what was possible with typewriters, said co-author Anna Feit from Aalto University. This partially explains why self-taught typists using fewer than ten fingers can be as fast as touch typists, which was probably not the case in the typewriter era.
The average user in the study typed 52 words per minute, much slower than the professionally trained typists in the 70s and 80s, who typically reached 60-90 words per minute. However, performance varied largely. The fastest users in our study typed 120 words per minute, which is amazing given that this is a controlled study with randomised phrases, said co-author Dr Antti Oulasvirta, also from Aalto. Many informal tests allow users to practice the sentences, resulting in unrealistically high performance.
The researchers found that users who had previously taken a typing course actually had a similar typing behaviour as those who had never taken such a course, in terms of how fast they type, how they use their hands and the errors they make - even though they use fewer fingers.
The researchers found that users display different typing styles, characterised by how they use their hands and fingers, the use of rollover, tapping speeds, and typing accuracy.
For example, some users could be classified as careless typists who move their fingers quickly but have to correct many mistakes; and others as attentive error-free typists, who gain speed by moving hands and fingers in parallel, pressing the next key before the first one is released.
It is now possible to classify users typing behaviour based on the observed keystroke timings which does not require the storage of the text that users have typed. Such information can be useful for example for spell checkers, or to create new personalised training programmes for typing.
You do not need to change to the touch typing system if you want to type faster, said Feit. A few simple exercises can help you to improve your own typing technique.
The anonymised dataset is available at the project homepage: http://userinterfaces.aalto.fi/136Mkeystrokes/
Dhakal, V., Feit, A., Kristensson, P.O. and Oulasvirta, A. 2018. 'Observations on typing from 136 million keystrokes.' In Proceedings of the 36th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2018). ACM Press.
Adapted from an Aalto University press release.
That may be true if you are typing from a hand written letter, however I believe if you are creating your work on the computer I found it better to just keep typing and fix later.
1. The computer highlights mistakes and proposes corrections.
2. Your initial draft is far from final and will probably have 10’s of revisions.
3. I found it better to capture my thoughts as I have them rather than correct an error and lose the thought.
I never typed before buying my first personal computer at age forty five, in 1998. I soon found myself typing a lot, for business and for pleasure.
Almost immediately, I realized that my lack of typing skill was going to be a serious impediment to my ability to communicate rapidly with this new medium; so I set about training myself to blind type with all ten fingers.
Took awhile, but even without a standard tutorial, I got very fast at it.
One thing that helped me a lot, was switching from the standard flat keyboard to the slanted ergonomic keyboard made by Microsoft. To this day, it’s the only desktop keyboard I use.
I started that way, but soon went the other route, due to the amount of time it took me to go back and edit all my mistakes.
At some point, I just began taking the time to correct my mistakes on the fly. Forcing myself to blind type, made it easier, as I could see the mistakes as they occurred.
It slowed me down considerably at first, but it helped train my eye/hand coordination to the point where I could type with my eyes closed, nearly flawlessly.
Very often I’m glad that my mom made me take type-writing class back in High School(?) in the 70’s. I bet it was only last week I was thinking about it.
Of course - the fact that she typed all of my papers was surely a factor.
In college we would help people out with several of us typing while some guy was handwriting his paper. We figured out that if each of us took something like 1.5 pages of handwriting it would fit on one page typed. We would all be typing different sections at the same time and then combine the pages!!
Typing was the most useful course I took in High School. I learned on a Royal manual typewriter with blank keys that must have weighed 20 pounds.
I began high school in 1969. Back in that time, very few young guys could foresee a future in which they'd need that skill. I wasn't any different, and never thought twice about learning to type.
I don't think any of us ever imagined a day would come when everyone on the planet typed.
That’s interesting. I was watching someone use one of those ergonomic keyboards the other day and wondering how she could type on it.
I learned touch typing decades ago. I do not think I could type using anything other than the regular keyboard. But I suppose if you learned using the ergonomic keyboard, it’s use would be natural to you.
What ever happened to the QWERTY alternative keyboard that put the most frequently used letters on the home row?
It was supposed to dramatically increase typing speed.
I DO recall the time of when I was just learning to read, and we would have “circle time” reading a character's part in a book.
Well - I got “Nancy” or something. And I did NOT want to play a girl's roll. The teacher insisted though as there just weren't enough girl's in the class.
Well, when reading circle time came I went to go get the book out of my bag. I also took out the bra that I had swiped from my mom's dresser. Put it on over my shirt and walked back to the reading circle! (Told the teacher that if I was going to play a girl, I might as well act the part!)
Of course after that I was marched right down to the Principal's office. That wasn't the first time, or the last, but my mom said it was her most embarrassing time when she had to go in for a chat with me and the Principal.
My dad always said “Only secretaries use keyboards.” But then he made me take typing in 1968 and bought me a Smith Corona typewriter for college.
These days I don’t think typing speed is as critical as in the as the old days when you had “typing pools.” Young people today would be better served learning the difference between “loose” and “lose.” The crappy “whole word” system has resulted in two generations of near-illiterates. What’s the point of typing an incomprehensible word salad 10% faster?
I would never, ever, ever have taken a typing class in high school. Typing was for girls. Then I dropped out. A year later I returned and since I needed a few more credits to graduate, and one of the courses could be a throwaway, I signed up for ... typing!
It wasn’t as easy as I thought; I was so ham-fisted I only got up to 40 wpm in one semester. Later, when I was in the Army, they made me a clerk typist and made me practice endless hours every day for an additional four or five weeks. I only got up to 55 wpm at my speediest, and if I didn’t type a lot every day, I’d start slipping back down into the 40s. But it was good enough for government work and I’ve never regretted “knowing how to type” for a minute since (especially after they came out with home computers!).
It was interesting what they said in this article about “rollover” typing. I’d never heard of it. I’m too old of a dog to be taught new tricks, and it sounds way too complicated anyway. They only taught touch typing to us back in the day. That’s what I know and I’m sticking to it. But if I were a young whippersnapper, I’d give it a try because it sounds like it’s the way to go if you want to type at a respectable speed.
>>finds that the fastest typists not only make fewer errors, but they often type the next key before the previous one has been released.
On a typewriter, that results in key “clashing”. Even in a computer, 2 keys at once won’t always give you what you wanted.
As a general rule of life: “Slow down; you’ll go faster.”
The fastest I ever tested was 110 words / minute with no errors.
I was in high school in the ‘60s, in NY Regents program, and advanced placement. I assumed Typing class was for the girls who were just getting by, so pooh-poohed it.
Bit I needed one elective so decided to take Personal Typing. It was the most valuable class I took, besides Latin. Being fast and accurate got my foot in the door at some top companies, and I was able to advance into management positions from there. (No college degree.)
One thing I noticed in class: My teacher would make us test to music sometimes (Leroy Anderson’s “Typewriter” song). With music, my speed improved quickly. I’d played piano since I was three, and when in the music-typing groove, I got in a zone. I don’t know if that’s typical or has any scientific meaning, but I thought it was interesting.
>>One thing that helped me a lot, was switching from the standard flat keyboard to the slanted ergonomic keyboard made by Microsoft. To this day, its the only desktop keyboard I use.
I could see a new keyboard layout being designed. We’ll be told that this layout is “improved” but as with so many “better mousetraps” we’ve been sold, it won’t necessarily be better (different isn’t automatically “better”).
And the differences (even subtle, like a fatter Enter key where the backslash key used to be) will hamstring older typers (putting them out to pasture in offices).
Not only would you have to learn a new keyboard layout, you’d have to UNLEARN the old keyboard layout (wired in memory over a lifetime).
Not so difficult!
Learned to type on a U.S. typewriter in my early teens, back in the 1970s. Have since mastered both the standard German keyboard and Russian keyboard.
My dad always said that he wished he knew how to type after the first few days of basic training with the Marines in 1942. Instead of raising his hand when the drill sgt. asked for any men who could type, He raised his hand when he asked for truck drivers... Most of the guys who could type, didn't have to island hop.
I’ve seen a few keyboards from other countries (including Japan and England) but typically the letter layout is fairly consistent.
There has been talk of putting the vowels all together and doing other things to radically change where each letter is.
And that “L-shaped” enter key in the 1990s slowed us down typing network paths (the “\” key moved and where it was had been swallowed up by the Enter key). Mistype the keystroke and you’ve entered only a partial path.
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