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Touch Typing Basics

When you can type accurately without looking at the keyboard, and you use the correct finger for each key, your typing speed (WPM) will increase dramatically. If you want to increase your productivity and save time, touch typing is one of the most effective ways to do this. With some patience and practice, anyone can learn to type correctly.

After you have learned the correct typing posture, the next step is to learn the basics of typing correctly. The fundamentals of touch typing are placing your fingers on the 'home row' keys, using the correct finger to type each key, and returning your fingers back to the home row. With practice, you will be able to type without looking at the keyboard. You won't have to even think about where each key is, your fingers will know the way.

Home Row

The 'home row' is the foundation of touch typing. Putting your fingers in the same place every time allows you to learn where the keys are without having to look at the keyboard. The correct way to position your fingers is to place your left hand on the A, S, D, and F keys; and your right hand on the J, K, L and semicolon. One or both of your thumbs should rest on the spacebar. Most keyboards will have two little bumps on the keyboard to help you line your fingers up without looking.
Place your fingers on the home row keys. A, S, D, and F for your left hand, and J, K, L, and semicolon with your right hand.

Use the Correct Fingers For Each Key

Each key on your keyboard is assigned to a specific finger, and you should use the correct finger every time. The picture below shows which keys are assigned to each finger. You shouldn't have to memorize this, just keep it in mind as you are practicing your typing. When you need to use the 'shift' key, (to capitalize a letter or use a secondary character,) you should be using one hand for the letter, and the other hand for the shift key.
Use the correct finger for each key

Return Your Fingers to the Home Row

It almost goes without saying. After each letter you type, make sure that your finger finds it's way back to the home row as quickly as possible. Of course, there are times when the same finger types two letters in a row. You should practice the common combinations without bringing your finger home, but the key to learning to touch type is training your fingers to instinctively move from the home row to the correct key.

The average typing job will require you to type over 40 WPM, while more advanced jobs may require 80 WPM. Even if you do not plan on typing full time for your job, typing faster and more accurately is a very valuable skill that is worth taking time to learn.

Special Keys

There are many other keys on your keyboard which can come in handy. Some of these keys are made almost obsolete with the invention of the mouse, but in many ways it is quicker and easier to use the keyboard. I am only familiar with American keyboards, so I apologize if this does not apply.

The 'shift' key is for capitalizing letters, or using the secondary character of a key. (Example - On the number 1 key, you should see an exclamation mark.) It is also used with the arrow keys to highlight text.

Caps Lock
This key is used if you want to type in all capital letters. Use 'shift' to make a letter lowercase. Using the caps lock is not the same as holding the shift key down, it only affects letters.

The 'tab' key indents your paragraph. Many word processing programs allow you to adjust the indent. Tab is also very useful when you are filling out forms on the internet. Press it to move your cursor to the next item on the form instead of using your mouse.

Erases the character to the left of the cursor.

Erases the character to the right of the cursor.

Moves cursor to the beginning of the current line.

Moves cursor to the end of the current line.

Ctrl (Control)
Used in many computer commands beyond the scope of this article.

Also used in many computer commands.

Prt Scr (Print Screen)
This will not actually print anything. This key is for taking a screenshot - a picture of your entire screen, not just the program your are using. When you want / need a screenshot : Insert
Allows you to type over existing words. This is useful in special situations, but not used very often.

Page Up / Page Down
Pretty self explanatory. If these keys don't seem to work, try using your mouse to click on the contents that you want to scroll and try the keys again.

Learning these keys will also help you increase efficiency at your computer. There are also other uses for some keys depending on which programs that you use. For example, on most spreadsheets 'tab' will act as a right arrow key.

Ready For Some Practice? Try our free Typing Tests.