Wednesday 18 September 2002

How fast can you type?

The results are in. Your typing speed: 48 WPM.

As someone who types reasonably fast and very accurately, I’m always amazed that so many computer users can’t touch type, particularly since the relatively small amount time required to learn the skill offers such an enormous return on investment.

In 1987 I’d had a Macintosh for a couple of years and was writing reviews for Australian Macworld. When I dropped by the office one afternoon, the editor asked if I’d mind reviewing MacType since everyone he’d asked had knocked back the assignment. Great, I thought, I’ll learn to type. When I opened the package that evening, it contained the program floppy, a manual, and a sheet of blank white stickers to place over each key on the keyboard. No peeking! I practised for half an hour each day and within a couple of weeks was typing 25 words per minute with 98% accuracy.

Today, a Lockergnome item about TypingWeb pricked my curiosity. I zipped over, took the “quick free typing test,” and was surprised by my score of 48 words per minute—I didn’t realize my speed had nearly doubled over the years.

Though it only works with IE5 and over, at $19.99 for a one year single user licence TypingWeb is cheaper and more convenient than applications like TypeQuick.

Whenever I teach a Dreamweaver or JavaScript class, few of the students can type. I usually spend a minute or two trying to convince them that being able to type will not only save them time and improve their accuracy, but will totally alter their relationship with the computer, giving them control and confidence that they currently lack. I don’t know how a two-finger typist could even consider programming.

Yet I know that relatively few will invest a small amount of time and money to get the big payoff. The willingness of human beings to act contrary to their own best interests never ceases to amaze me.

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Comments

I never heard of a two-fingered typist with a repetitive stress injury.

There are days I wish I'd never learned. (I can hit 100 wpm with near-perfect accuracy on a good day, though I haven't ever tested myself on the Kinesis.)

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on 18 September 2002 at 10:57 PM

Ooh. 100 wpm. I'm actually jealous. Does that make me a geek?

That test pegged me at 84 wpm, but I did hit 91 wpm on a temp agency test about two years ago. I definitely think typing is a much-needed skill, because if you can type, you can *always* find a job.

Truth. I called up that temp agency one day out of desperation and said, "I don't have a lot of professional clothes, but I can type 75 wpm." They said, "Get down here. We'll find you something." And they did.

That, dear Jonathon, is my completely boring story of the day.

Posted by: Shannon on 18 September 2002 at 11:40 PM

Okay, Jonathon, admit it.

This is a feeble attempt to make your friends with Macs as jealous as you are of all the new software that will run on Macs only.

I'm sure that given the chance, especially since I can't be tested, that I could have beaten 48WPM.

Posted by: Loren on 19 September 2002 at 03:00 AM

Now a test that could proove more useful: how much code can one write per minute ? ;)

Posted by: michel v on 19 September 2002 at 03:29 AM

The results are in:
Your typing speed: 70 WPM
Hours a week typing: 8 hours per week

You already type exceedingly fast...


Close Window

Posted by: victor echo zulu on 19 September 2002 at 08:21 AM

I hadn't considered the RSI problem, Dorothea. I guess because I'm happy to putter along at around 50wpm.

Shannon, did you spend the money you earned from the temp job on professional clothes?

Loren, sorry but put up or shut up. Borrow a friend's PC or drop by an Internet cafe and take the test.

Is "lines per minute" a valid measure of coding efficiency, Michel?

Trust Victor, the Solitaire master, to top my score. How accurate though?

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 19 September 2002 at 02:14 PM

I am a two-finger now, but used to be ten-finger for only a few years after i got my typing diploma.. I was not very good and it gave me rsi.

I like my two-finger much better, with the acquired artificial instinct on where exact the keys are on a QWERTY keyboard (without looking).

Posted by: Kris on 19 September 2002 at 05:33 PM

Words per minute, Kris?

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 19 September 2002 at 06:52 PM

Jonathon: no, hookers. I never do learn.

Posted by: Shannon on 19 September 2002 at 11:40 PM

Ahem. 133 wpm. (gunslinger blows wisps of smoke from fingertips, walks out of saloon)

Posted by: Eric on 20 September 2002 at 09:22 AM

Screenshot, please Eric. Victor, you might like to provide one too...

Posted by: Jonathon Delacour on 20 September 2002 at 12:02 PM

For even more fun, I suggest installing Gabe's TypOmeter:

http://www.informatics.no/progvareTMLoc.htm

Posted by: Fredrik Lundh on 20 September 2002 at 11:22 PM

I'm 12 and I type 70wpm but i still think typequick is the best for typing

Posted by: Dave on 1 November 2002 at 09:47 PM

I can type from about 90-109 and the fastest i have ever gotten was 126 WPM. I was very surprised becasue I am only 15 years old and when I hit 126 I was 14 years old. Just thought I would share. Have a good day

Posted by: Ashley on 6 February 2003 at 05:02 AM

cool

Posted by: jamie on 19 June 2003 at 11:13 AM

I took a test for the job the other day. I got 85 wpm... Which is extreamly bad. My hands were shaking and worried...I usually type 100+

Posted by: Tim on 27 June 2003 at 12:28 PM

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

© Copyright 2002-2003 Jonathon Delacour