4 Tips for Improving Your Typing Accuracy and Speed

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 13, 2022 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated June 13, 2022

Published December 12, 2019

Person sitting at a table types on a laptop, with a smart phone device seen laying to the left of the laptop.

Being able to type quickly and accurately is a skill that will serve you well no matter where your career takes you. Producing quality work with few typos or missing words will help ensure that the focus remains on the message of your content. Improving your typing skills may also help strengthen your written communication skills and allow you to advance in your career.

In this article, we offer four tips to help you improve your typing accuracy and speed, and we suggest typing exercises for beginner and advanced typists.

How to improve your typing speed and accuracy

Demonstrating efficient typing skills can help boost your communication skills and avoid misundertandings. Here are four tips to improve your typing skills:

1. Start slowly

Familiarize yourself with the proper hand position on the keyboard and start with typing some common words. This will help you focus on reducing errors. Resist looking at your hands and eventually, you’ll train your brain to send your fingers flying over the keys.

2. Learn proper typing position

You probably know roughly where the keys are located on the keyboard, but the goal of improving your typing skills is to do it without looking at the keys. Set yourself up for success by putting your body in the proper position for comfort and avoiding injury. Follow these seven steps to improve your typing posture and positioning:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with the keyboard or laptop at a comfortable height on the table or desk.

  2. Put your feet flat on the floor.

  3. Place the screen so it’s 15 to 25 inches from your eyes, and in a position where you are looking down slightly.

  4. Keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and try to expose your shoulders, arms, wrists and elbows to as little strain as possible. You want to avoid developing any habits that would cause repetitive stress injury long-term.

  5. Before you start, examine the keys. For standard English-language keyboards, the layout is called "QWERTY"—a non-alphabetical arrangement that’s been around since the 1800s. Some keyboards might have some of the function keys in different places or might be slightly curved in the middle or on the edges for ergonomics, but the alphabet and punctuation keys will be in the same place.

  6. Place your left and right pointer fingers on the F and the J keys. Many keyboards have a little raised tab on those letters so you can orient your fingers without looking. Let the rest of your fingers on each hand fall on the remaining keys in the home row (D, S, and A for the left hand; K, L, and the ";" symbol for the right hand). Both thumbs rest on the space bar.

  7. With your fingers positioned on the home row, you’ll train your hands to reach all the other keys without having to look. This is called "touch typing." Essentially, each finger is responsible for the keys just above and below the home row key it sits on. Try to imagine vertical dividers around each finger. The right pinky is responsible for the return, shift, and delete keys, and the left pinky is for the shift, caps lock, and tab keys. It may feel awkward at first since our pinky fingers aren’t always strong, but with practice, it will feel more natural.

3. Start by typing slowly to avoid mistakes

Typing speed is measured in words per minute (WPM). The fastest recorded typist was a woman named Stella Pajunas who typed 216 wpm on an IBM electronic typing machine in 1946. However, 60 to 80 wpm is good for the average person. Some typing jobs might require something faster, but this would be clearly listed in the job description.

When WPM is calculated, uncorrected mistakes count against you. On a computer, it’s easy to go back. Typewriters are more unforgiving. Starting to practice slowly will teach you to type accurately first, then increase your speed as you learn. Typing the document correctly the first time eliminates the need for excessive copyediting and proofreading. It’s easier to avoid the mistake in the first place than to have to find and correct it later.

Many word processing programs offer auto-correct or a bright red underline for mistakes, but they can’t catch everything. Truly wanting to improve your typing skills means seeking improvement without the aid of correcting technology.

4. Practice, practice, practice

People often quote Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas on how to make something a habit. In his book Outliers, he says “It takes 10,000 hours to master anything.” 10,000 hours translates into 416 days, or over a year of your life—if you practice 24 hours a day!

While that amount of time applied to typing practice might seem much too daunting, neuroscience research suggests that our brains don’t develop based on an inherent set of preprogrammed patterns. In other words, our brains are always ready for new skills. Practice leads to learning in the developing and the mature brain, and the resulting structural changes to the brain encode that learning.

Once you learn the basics of finger placement and where they move on the keyboard, practicing with intention gives you lifetime mastery that will make every instance of typing easier.

For practice sessions, make sure you create a hospitable environment. Don’t lie on a bed with a laptop on your legs, for example, or slump on the couch watching television. Find a chair with proper lumbar support for your back, and maintain good posture while you type. When you’re serious about any kind of practice, a set-up that’s comfortable will encourage consistency.

When you decide to pursue improving your typing skills, make a schedule to practice, as you would when learning a musical instrument or making art. It’s easy to keep a commitment to a friend; apply the same principle and keep your commitments to yourself.

Beginner exercises to improve typing skills

You can use the exercises below once you’re sitting in the proper position. Follow these directions:

  1. Type the words in the exercises below with a single space between them and after punctuation. Type the passage as you see it with the line breaks.

  2. Go slow and be deliberate.

  3. See how many words you can type in a row without looking at your hands.

  4. See how many words you can type without making any mistakes.

  5. Note which fingers, letter keys, or words give you any trouble.

  6. Pay attention to your form so you don’t get fatigued or hurt yourself, and take breaks where you stand and stretch.

Exercise 1:

the be to of and a in that have I it for not on with he as you do at this but his by from they we say her she or an will my one all would there their what so up out if about who

Exercise 2:

be call line your show consider people those give all late general then most here seem world because strange thing change again even during use and for real come in set place some about know end coming me against another number would my between around of good on by will write us between also

Exercise 3:

The Hare & the Tortoise by Aesop

A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.

“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.

“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”

The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.

The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.

The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.

The race is not always to the swift.

Advanced typing practice activities

If you’re ready to take your typing practice to the next level, here are some activities to make your sessions more interesting or fun:

Cover your hands

Lay a cloth napkin or dishtowel over your hands so you can’t see the keyboard at all. This will help you not even be tempted to look down at the keys. It’s a helpful exercise to show you how often you might be peeking.

Create timing drills

Use a timer for specific kinds of drills. Using the exercises above or a passage from your favorite writer, type as many words as you can in 30 seconds, for example, focusing on speed rather than accuracy. Or give yourself a set amount of time to type slowly and see if you can type a passage without a single mistake.

Seek practice material from others

Ask a friend or family member to choose passages for you to practice with. If they’re not texts you’ve typed before, you’re less likely to be bored with the same passages over and over.

Get out of your comfort zone

Find some text with words outside your field of expertise, like a scientific publication, legal document, or a white paper filled with technical or unfamiliar vocabulary. Try to type these documents without making mistakes. You might be surprised how hard it is to type unfamiliar long words quickly and with precision, but it will help you develop a different kind of focus.

Put your typing skills to the test

Now that you’ve learned the basics and practiced, take a typing test to see how you’re doing. The internet is full of free online tests that calculate your words per minute and show you when you’re making mistakes. Set intervals at which you’ll take the online tests so you can see how you’re improving. And set goals to motivate yourself to practice regularly.

If you’re feeling competitive, you could set up a typing skills game with friends. Have everyone type the same passage at the same time and award points for accuracy and speed. If you have enough friends present, you could have a bracket-style single-elimination tournament with the winner taking home a fantastic prize. Choose passages that are funny or interesting to make the exercise more fun.

Learning to be proficient at typing might not take 10,000 hours, but you’ll greatly improve your typing skills by adhering to a practice schedule. Whether you’re searching for a typing-focused job or you want future employers to know you can work hard at developing a skill, typing practice is a great way to improve your job prospects.

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