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Tips to Improve Typing Speed

I am always trying to do everything work-related faster, and somehow over the years, I've become a pretty fast typist. Every once in a while, I'll get a little obsessed about my typing, wondering how fast I am and whether it's pretty accurate. There are tons of testing sites around the web that assess you based on raw words within a minute, the completion of an essay excerpt, or a block of text within a certain block of time. You may find that you're better at one than the other: Succeeding at a raw-word method or flailing on an essay may indicate that you tend to comprehend copy while you type, rather than just serve as a technician--not necessarily a bad thing.

As I've gone through this latest jag of evaluating my typing skills, I've tried to figure out what has made me excel at it. Beside a mandatory sixth-grade class (taught by a horribly mean teacher who whispered into a microphone that was broadcast on a portable amplifier), I never had lessons, and I haven't worked as a secretary, daty entry person, or other type-heavy profession. I'm just a regular joe who types upwards (upwords?) of 80wpm.

Here are some things I think contribute to improved typing. Try them out to speed yourself up... even if they don't work, they're find improvements to anyone's life.

1. Read a lot. The more you read, the faster you read. If you trust the human-edited dictionary (Wikipedia... AKA makeitupedia), the faster you, the faster you type; there's a direct correlation between reading speed and typing speed. I read fast too (700wpm), so it's true in my case anyway.

2. Write a lot. Just like reading, writing immerses you in vocabulary. The broader your vocabulary, the less likely you will be to stumble over a word for not having recognized it during typing. 

3. Type everyday. Obviously, something done everyday will become more natural and more easily performed.

4. Type while listening to music, watching television, or in the presence of others. If you're specifically trying to increase typing speed, I think it helps to be in a "zone" of slight distraction. Complete silence and focus on the typing may slow you down as you tense up -- kind of like how you must relax a bit to ride a bike. Try your lessons with the TV on or at Starbucks, where there's plenty of outside noise. 

5. Quarterly, take a few typing tests (some are listed below) to see where you stand and where you need work.

• 10-Fast-Fingers.com: This is a raw-words speed test, during which you are given one minute to complete as many words as possible. Pros: It uses the most common English words, so it's simultaneously giving you practice that will benefit your real-world typing. Cons: It only tests based on one-minute increments.

• TypingTest.com: This is one that allows you to select an essay and the amount of time you'd like to type. Pros: No "start" button... timing begins when you start typing. Cons: There are only a few essays to choose from, and you can only select one-, two-, or three-minute increments. Also, the essays tend to contain a lot of quotation marks and proper nouns.

• TypeOnline.co.uk: This one is based on essays, too. Pros: You can test your word-typing or number-typing skills. Pros: The site includes free lessons and practice runs, and it puts equal weight on number-typing. Cons: You have to press "start" and "stop" buttons to complete a test; there aren't very many essays.

6. If you're competitive like me, consider joining others in a typing race. At TypeRacer.com, it's a piece of cake to join in the fun... and you don't even have to register to compete. Races range from a single sentence to a short paragraph, and there may be one competitor or five. Likewise, there are plenty of sloooow typists and super-fast typists, so you don't have to be embarrassed by where you stand. I type a little faster than usual when I am up against others, but I still get my butt kicked too.