How to learn touch typing and use the home row

As a kid, I started typing by entering cheats on 90s PC games like Downfall and Rise of the Triadbut it wasn’t until the covid pandemic that i finally ditched my awkward hunt-and-pick technique and taught myself to write.

If you don’t know how to tap, there are very accessible ways to learn on your own. You might think you’re fine with ham-fisting your way through the keys, but with a little effort, you can learn to type faster, use your fingers more ergonomically, and rarely need to take your eyes off the screen while typing. -clack-clack with.

If you’ve been relying on just a few fingers to type, it will take some time to adjust and get those empty digits cracking. At first, you may type as slowly as molasses while learning which fingers are responsible for which keys, but that’s okay. Even if you start with 20 words per minute, the key is to focus on accuracy and build that new muscle memory from the ground up. Just like playing a musical instrument, hit the right notes first – thereafter make it faster.

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Touch typing begins by anchoring your fingers on the home row. On a QWERTY layout keyboard, this involves resting the left fingers on A, S, D and F while the right digits are on J, K, L and semicolon. Both thumbs should hover over / rest on the space bar. Do you feel a small raised bump, zero or other designation on the F and J keys? Most of the keys have a tactile accent that makes these two keys feel different. That’s how you find those important keys to anchor your index fingers and let the rest fall into place, even without looking.

It’s easy to get started with various types of training apps (most are free) that simplify the typing experience and even make it fun. In this article, I’ll first walk you through a number of options for you to try and then add some dos and don’ts that should get you relearning finger muscle memory to make you much, much faster.

When it comes to free resources for learning how to type, I highly recommend using Keybr on a desktop browser. This site automatically builds typing lessons for you by measuring your initial skills (accuracy and speed) and generates practice lessons that first focus on the most used letters. It then slowly ramps up with more letters to type and fingers to use. You’ll be writing a mix of real words and fake words that follow familiar phonetic structures, so it works with your fingers without abstracting away any impression of language.

By creating an account with Keybr (via email, Google or Facebook logins), you can save your progress and pick up where you left off. Keybr also offers a premium account for a one-time purchase of $10 that removes ads and disables ad trackers, although the ads on the site aren’t very invasive.

The key to using Keybr, just like any writing tool, is consistency. Keep practicing daily and the program will work you through all the keys before you know it. Once you’ve “unlocked” all the keys, keep moving forward and focus on accuracy. Your speed will slowly increase over time.

I don’t like that Keybr capitalizes and punctuates every single word when you enable these settings, but you can always turn it off when you want to swing back to focusing on character speed. Plus, when you start to feel generally comfortable typing without looking, you can always switch from Keybr to another program that includes more real-world use of caps and symbols.

Really, there’s a lot of fun to mess around with at Monkeytype, from the color scheme to weird graphical effects that can test your threshold for motion sickness as much as your typing.

Want to practice writing while reading classics by George Orwell, Dante Alighieri, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more? has dozens of books you can practice typing with, such as War of the Worlds or Reason and feelings. There’s even William Strunk Jr.’s The elements of styleso you can learn 1920s American English writing style as you type.

This may be a bit of a novelty, but it is a charming impression of writing practice. It offers thousands of pages of actual literary text, which makes for some great practice.

Prepare yourself for some old-fashioned design and graphics. Typing Trainer may look like the flimsy programs we used as kids, but it’s still an effective learning tool. You can work your way through a series of courses from the very beginning or jump into some timed tests.

Typing Trainer also has some browser games you can play where you can race a car or blow up spaceships by typing, you guessed it. They’re pretty basic, with an early 2000s flash game aesthetic, but they’re a fun distraction to practice with.

Many of us old timers may remember the DOS classic from 1992 Mario learns to write, made for Nintendo by Interplay. You can now play the entire game for free in your browser courtesy of the Internet Archive. It is very dated and probably not the best way to learn today as it’s stuck in the old ways of grueling and relentless repetition using lots of individual letters and repeated sequences, but it’s worth it for a laugh and the nostalgia trip. Fun fact: this was the first game where Mario spoke, and the voice lines are hilariously bad, sounding like they’re trying their Italian-American accent way too hard.

In addition, there is a writing prompt about the American Civil War that seems to downplay the importance of slavery in the cause of the war. So, yeah, be prepared for some problematic stuff buried in there.

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Epistory – Writing Chronicles is a charming Steam-based action-adventure game with an aesthetic that uses typing to activate your fox protagonist’s powers and fight monsters as you explore a fantasy world. I find Epistory to be a little dry at times, but it’s a neat game and I admire the fun twist on the writing genre. It’s a new way to practice when you’re first getting the hang of touch typing, and if you like it, there’s even a sequel coming soon.

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This is an on-rail shooter spinoff of House of the dead game, where writing words shoots bullets at zombies. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is a visceral experience that’s good for a cheap thrill while you’re writing, even if it shows some of the 2010s-era creep with campy jokes and characters that lean on tired stereotypes. It’s like a C-movie video game with B-level writing, but I can’t help but enjoy it and recommend it.

Having gone through this learning process myself and being a bit of a mechanical keyboard geek (the two often go hand in hand), here are some more tips and best practices for developing your touch typing expertise.

  • Exercise regularly. Ideally once a day.
  • Make exercise a regular routine or habit, like starting your day with it while drinking your morning coffee.
  • Test yourself with capital letters, punctuation and even numbers. Writing in the real world isn’t all about lowercase letters!
  • Look ahead to the next word in a text message. You write faster when you know what’s coming next. Think of it as Tetris.
  • Use the same methods to learn alternative keyboard layouts such as Dvorak and Colemak. Sites like Keybr and Monkeytype offer tutorials on all of them, although QWERTY is the default.
  • Use your newfound love of typing as an excuse to get into mechanical keyboards. Sure, they won’t help you type faster, but they sound and look cool, and it’s a fun rabbit hole to dive down.

  • Don’t get impatient to get faster.
  • Don’t ignore your typos. If a type trainer lets you go back and fix mistakes, you should do that to build the habit.
  • Do not overdo the exercise. Your fingers can be overworked, and practicing too much in one session has diminishing returns. Just like when you exercise, recovery and rest are also important. You will probably be a little faster when you pick it up the next day.
  • Don’t be elitist when it comes to writing. Just because you know how to type doesn’t mean you can judge others for not knowing or typing slowly. Sometimes people online use Words Per Minute (WPM) as a measure of people’s worth or as a way to keep up, and that’s just not cool. Instead, be welcoming and encourage others to enter it if they are interested.

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