Welcome to my comprehensive guide on how to improve your typing speed. As of writing this, my record is 167 words per minute (wpm), with a consistent average typing speed of 140wpm. I will share with you some techniques and other resources to help you increase your speed.
To preface this guide, at the time of writing this I am 26 years old and have been using a computer since I was around 8 years old. A large portion of my childhood was spent playing RuneScape where I would type the same line over and over again to sell my items to other players. Being young, this was a time when you think you would be able to learn quicker than you would as an adult. By the age of 15, my typing speed was only around 90 words per minute.
I am mentioning this because I believe anybody can improve their typing speed, regardless of age. The period when my speed increased dramatically was during the last two years and I will share how I achieved this.
The most important point to make is that, as cliché as it sounds, practice makes perfect. The more you practice anything in life, the better you will become at it, and typing is no exception. If I hadn’t spent free time practicing on the websites mentioned later, I would not be anywhere near as fast as I currently am. I cannot stress this enough. If you really do want to improve, practice, practice, practice.
What Is ‘WPM’ And How Is it Calculated?
Words per minute is the measurement used for words typed in a minute. Officially, WPM is used by taking the total number of characters typed and dividing it by five, and then dividing it by the elapsed time (usually one minute for tests). So if you type ‘excitement’, this would count as two words as it is ten characters long. Spaces, numbers and punctuation each count as a character press, whilst capital letters count as two (as you are holding Shift and pressing the letter, essentially performing two keypresses).
Accuracy is the percentage of correctly pressed keys out of the total number of keys pressed. So you would divide the number of correct keys by the total number of keypresses, and then multiply it by 100 to get your accuracy.
AWPM stands for ‘Adjusted Words Per Minute’ and is used to account for the number of errors made when typing during a test. To get this figure, you multiple the words per minute by the accuracy (as a percentage) and round the final figure down.
Fortunately, typing test websites and competitions will do all of this calculation behind the scenes for you, so you won’t need to worry about having to perform mathematics alongside your typing!
What is the average WPM?
The average words-per-minute varies depending on which source you use, but generally it is around 40 wpm. The average for those in typist or secretarial roles can be around 65 words per minute.
Table of Contents
Use this list to skip to the desired section:
- Typing Techniques
- Choosing Your Keyboard
- Keyboard Layouts
- Typing Speed Tests
- Beginner Guide
- Intermediate Guide
- Advanced Guide
- Expert Guide
- Additional Information
I’ll detail the three methods of typing, from least effective to most effective, as well as including some personal examples of when I used these throughout my life.
Hunt and Peck
This is the most common typing technique, also known as the two finger method. It generally involves only using two fingers – the index and middle fingers. The user will type one character at a time, looking at the keyboard as they do so. You can expect to see this typing method from the older population and those who rarely use a keyboard.
I believe I would have used this method very early on, likely when I first started using a computer. If you currently use this method, you are severely limiting your potential to type faster.
This is a combination of the ‘hunt and peck’ method and ‘touch typing’. Usually the typist will be familiar with the keyboard layout but will only use a few fingers to type.
It is more efficient than the hunt and peck method but is still lacking the potential for an increased typing speed. I used this method during my teenage years and refused to even consider touch typing with all of my fingers as I believed I could not increase my speed further.
This the most effective and efficient typing technique and is the one you should be aiming to adopt. It eliminates the need to move your hands all over the keyboard as you will have a set position for your hands (the home row, which I will elaborate on later in this post) and has the highest potential for a fast typing speed. All of your fingers are used which is why it is also known as ten finger typing.
This method involves not looking at the keyboard to type, allowing the typist to look directly at what they are typing on the screen and type continuously. The typist knows where all of the keys are and will not need to look at the keyboard, except maybe for keys which they are less familiar with (such as symbols or numbers).
I currently use this typing technique and have done so for a number of years. I gradually begun to add more fingers when typing, even though it felt awkward at first, and it eventually became second nature.
Choosing Your Keyboard
The tool you use for any craft can make all the difference to the outcome of the work – typing is no exception. There are two main types of keyboards available to buy online and I will do my best to summarise them as concisely as possible.
It is worth noting that there are wired and wireless versions of either type of keyboard. This is usually down to personal preference. In my experience, wired keyboards are generally more reliable and present less issues, such as the requirement to plug it in to charge every few days (depending on usage). Wireless keyboards also cost more than their wired counterpart.
If you were to choose a wireless keyboard, I would recommend choosing a 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard instead of Bluetooth as it is superior in terms of connectivity, latency and range. Click these links for a wireless value rubber dome keyboard or a more expensive wireless mechanical keyboard.
You must also consider whether you want a full-sized keyboard or one with less keys, such as those without the numpad (tenkeyless) or an even more compact one without dedicated function keys (60% keyboards).
Personally, I use the wireless DREVO BladeMaster PRO with Cherry MX brown switches, however I do have it plugged in nearly 100% of the time. Brown switches are my favourite as they provide a nice tactile feel without being too loud. I also prefer the US keyboard layout (with a smaller Enter key) over the UK one.
Rubber Dome / Membrane
The terms ‘rubber dome’ and ‘membrane’ are often used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences between them, and you can find out more about that here. I will refer to them as ‘rubber dome’ to make life easier for everybody.
These are the most common keyboards found worldwide. If you have ever worked in an office or bought a peripheral package (mouse and keyboard combination), your keyboard will have likely used rubber dome switches. Underneath the keycaps, these use small rubber covers that are pushed down to complete a circuit. The advantage of these is that they are relatively cheap to manufacture and therefore cheap to buy. In terms of noise, they are generally quiet.
I would recommend rubber dome keyboards when trying to save costs and when buying in bulk (in an office, for example). There are a lot of different manufacturers of these keyboards and I would recommend a flatter one rather than a ‘chunkier’ one, such as this keyboard, as they tend to have less ‘travel’ when pressing a key. There are also ergonomic options available, whereas mechanical keyboards have less variety in that respect.
These come with a range of styles and switches and are often bought by those who use their computer frequently. As mentioned above, you can buy tenkeyless and 60% versions (and others that I won’t mention as I don’t have personal experience with them) if you prefer a more compact keyboard.
There are a variety of switches available, with different manufacturers releasing new ones regularly, however I will be talking about the Cherry MX switches as these are the most common switches available (and are also the ones I have experience with). Different switches offer a different feel and sound, with differing levels of travel and pressure required to perform the keypress. Click on the link above to check out the different switch types and hear the sound that each one makes.
Linear switches offer a smooth and consistent keypress with a quiet sound. Tactile switches have the feeling of a small bump upon pressing a key, with a moderate noise level. Clicky switches also give the small bump feeling but have a loud click noise, similar to a typewriter.
Red switches offer a smooth linear experience with a soft sound. Black switches are linear and have a slightly louder and duller sound than reds. Brown switches, which I currently use, offer a tactile experience with a soft click. Finally, blue switches are tactile and are known as being ‘clicky’ as they have the loudest click compared to the others.
It is difficult for me to recommend a particular switch as they each have their own feel and it is usually down to personal preference. I feel that browns are a good middle ground as it has a good level of tactile feedback and is not too loud. Black switches feel too similar to rubber dome keyboards, in my opinion. Blues are very loud and are not suited for night time typing if sharing a house with others. I would suggest trying either red or brown switches if you are considering buying a mechanical keyboard. The benefit of buying from Amazon is that you can return it for a full refund if you are unhappy and can then try different switches. You could buy a switch tester but I don’t think you can truly get a feel for the switch without testing it on a full keyboard.
There are a range of keyboard layouts, with QWERTY being the most common. I will detail some of the other Latin-script keyboard layouts that are in use by typists. It is worth noting that I only have experience typing with QWERTY but have researched the other layouts quite thoroughly in the past.
I would say that if you already type at a reasonable speed, or are not particularly interested in learning another layout, that you should stick with QWERTY, especially as virtually every keyboard in the UK uses this layout (and Western countries in general). If, however, you are really committed to improving your typing speed and want to do everything possible to improve, then you should consider learning the Dvorak layout, as detailed below.
You are likely using this layout right now. The top row contains the letters ‘QWERTY’, which is where it gets the name from (followed by UIOP).
This layout is used in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, as well as other parts of central Europe. The main difference is that the Z and Y keys are swapped, as well as some special characters being replaced by diacritical characters.
This layout is used in Belgium, France and some African countries. The main differences between this and QWERTY is that the A and Q keys are swapped as well as Z and W. The M key is moved to the right of L, in place of the colon/semicolon key. The numbers 0 to 9 require the user to hold Shift when typing as by default they are used for accented characters.
Now we’re getting onto the ‘interesting’ keyboard layouts. Dvorak is named after its inventor, August Dvorak. This layout is renowned for its potential for significantly increasing the user’s typing speed, as well as being more comfortable to use. Its layout puts the most used English letters in the home row (where A to L are on a QWERTY layout), so 70% of typing is done in the home row, compared to 32% in QWERTY (according to Wikipedia). Windows has this layout built into it, so you can easily change to it if you wanted to learn the layout.
I personally have considered learning this layout as I know just how much it can help improve your speed. However, I feel like this would take quite some time to learn as I am so familiar with QWERTY and I would likely not gain much benefit to my current typing record.
If you have a standard QWERTY keyboard, you can simply pop the keycaps off and put them in the layout as below and then change the layout within Windows. Note that some keyboard keys, usually some laptop models, do not let you pop off keys easily, so be careful when doing so in that case.
This is another popular alternative to QWERTY, like Dvorak. It has similarities to QWERTY but changes the position of seventeen keys, whilst retaining the positions of most non-alphabetic characters, apparently making it easier to learn than Dvorak. Using this layout offers the benefits of reducing how far your fingers have to travel and focuses on heavy use of the home row.
This layout has the benefit of having less finger travel, even more so than Colemak. However, it does end up with one finger needing to hit two keys in succession more than other layouts. I do not have much to say about this layout but would recommend checking out the Wikipedia page for it.
Typing Speed Tests
There are numerous websites where you can test your typing speed. I will list the main ones that I have used over the years and still continue to use to this day. They are listed in order of my personal preference and you can click the titles of each website to visit them in a new tab.
Once you use MonkeyType you won’t ever want to use another website for improving and testing your typing speed. It has a visually pleasing caret (the cursor that follows as you type) and font, and gives you plenty of options for testing. You can type random words in time-based or word-based form (e.g. 15 seconds or 100 words); you can practice typing quotes of varying lengths, depending on which option you choose; you can change the language from ‘English’ (200 most common words) to ‘English 1k’ (1000 most common words), all the way up to ‘English 450k’.
One of the satisfying aspects of this website is the gamification; you receive XP and level up after each test taken, contributing to your total level. If you link your Discord account, your fastest speed for the 60 second typing test will be added to your account as a role and add the number next to your name (e.g. 150).
The statistics are in-depth and each test completion provides you with a detailed and comprehensive list of stats for that test. Your personal profile page shows your records for each type of test (e.g. time-based with 15, 30 and 60 seconds), and when you beat a record this is shown to you in a satisfying way after the test, motivating you to continue setting new records.
The settings page has a lot of customisation options, from changing the way that text is displayed and the shortcuts needed to perform certain actions, to changing the theme using various presets or creating your own.
I would strongly recommend that people looking to learn to type fast use MonkeyType as it provides so much more than other websites.
This used to be my favourite website to test my typing speed for random words instead of sentences. It offers multiplayer competitions, private competitions, a tiered progress ‘game’ (unlock the top 1000 words of your language) and public profiles with statistics. 10FF used to be my go-to website for speed tests until I discovered MonkeyType, which has far greater options and customisability in every way.
This is sponsored/presented by Das Keyboard and offers excerpts instead of random words. I think this is a good website to use to accurately determine your typing speed, as in your personal and work life you will be typing full sentences with punctuation and capital letters instead of just random lowercase words. TyprX puts in a race with other players with a real-time wpm counter.
It is also worth noting that Das Keyboard use this website to host an annual (or every two years) typing competition with impressive prizes.
This website is great for practicing touch typing and is a fantastic tool for improving your typing overall. It has a unique approach where it uses statistics and algorithms to automatically create typing lessons that match your current skill level. It says this on its website:
‘It works by repeating the following cycle:
- The algorithm generates a list of random words for you based on your typing skills. Your skill level is measured using the typing statistics collected so far. The words consist of a set of letters selected by the algorithm.
- You type the given words. You try to make as few mistakes as possible.
- As you type, the algorithm collects your typing statistics, such as the time-to-type metric for each individual key. At the end, these statistics are used to generate the next list of words for step one.
At each stage you just type the provided list of words, and the computer does the rest.’
At first you will need to calibrate it by typing through each test (which adds a new letter of the alphabet each time you complete the test) which will then make it more accurately determine your skill level. The application generates random words that aren’t necessarily real words, but they are readable and pronounceable and use the phonetic rules of the English language. The words look almost natural and often are, but it is worth noting that they may sometimes throw you off as they can look similar to actual words.
Check out their help page for more information. I would strongly recommend this website for improving your typing, so please do give it a try and see how you get on. You can make an account to ensure your progress is tracked and to make it so it doesn’t rely on your browser’s cookies. The more you use the website, the more it will be tailored to you and help you improve. Note: I would recommend going into the settings in the top right corner and going to the ‘typing’ tab and disabling the first two checkboxes as it will give you a more natural typing experience.
I’ll admit that I’ve spent too much time on this website. TypeRush has multiplayer typing races, letting you compete against other real players based on their leaderboard stats in either ‘street races’ or ‘boat races’. Creating an account lets you earn money and experience for each race completed, which you can then spend on new cars or boats to use in your races. There are global leaderboards (on which I’m in 1st place in the world) where you can compete for ranks.
This website offers multiplayer typing races like TypeRush and TypeRacer. I like the clean and minimal Bootstrap website design as well as the ability to select from a range of avatars. It will present you with quotes to type and put you against other real players. I like that it has a chat box so you can talk to the other people before or after a race (I wouldn’t recommend doing it during the race!).
Before I found TypeRush, I used to use this website regularly. TypeRacer offers multiplayer typing races where you compete against other people on the internet in real-time, as well as create private races to play against friends. It lets you create an account where you can keep track of your previous results. Instead of random words, this website only gives random quotes (usually book or movie script excerpts or verses from songs) for you to type.
This section is for people who are new to typing, have a slow typing speed (less than 45wpm), use only a few fingers and have to look at the keyboard for each letter they press.
To begin your journey to becoming a faster typist, I would recommend keybr.com. As mentioned above, this uses algorithms and statistics to give you a tailored experience to help you improve. It also encourages touch typing, which is the typing method you will want to adopt in order to maximise your typing potential, and is the method I will be heavily pushing you towards in each of the guides.
To become more comfortable with touch typing, let’s talk about finger positioning. If you look at the F and J keys on the middle row of the keyboard (called the ‘home row’), you will see two little bumps sticking out. Click the address bar at the top of your screen or open Notepad as you’ll need somewhere to practice typing. Rest your left index finger on the F key and your right index finger on the J key, with the other fingers resting on the keys parallel to the F and J keys. Look up at the screen and use your index fingers to stroke the F and J keys – you should feel the bumps. Practice pressing those keys a few times, moving your fingers up or down to other letters, using your left thumb to press spacebar and then naturally returning your fingers to the home row with your index fingers resting on the F and J keys.
You can set yourself some practice sentences to type so you’re not just typing aimlessly. A benefit of doing this is that you will become more familiar with the finger movements required to type certain words, as well as become more familiar with the layout of the keys.
Here are some examples you can use:
Once upon a time, the fox was happy that he was living by himself.
Depending on your past experiences, you will perceive things differently than others.
I am happiest when I am with others, especially my best friends.
Try to become comfortable using punctuation and getting faster at typing the sentences. You should gradually build up your muscle memory and your memory of where the keys are placed on the keyboard. A good website for a beginner is Typing Study where it will take you through the different rows of keys in set lessons.
This section is for people who are beyond the beginner stage but not quite advanced yet, with an average typing speed (less than 60 words per minute – note that the average typing speed in the UK is around 40wpm but I have set my own personal standards for typing speeds).
At this stage, you should know where the some keys are located on the keyboard and you may not even need to look at the keyboard for some of them. To improve and become advanced at typing, you should become familiar with where each key is and remove the need to look at the keyboard. Again, you can use Typing Study to assist you with this, but it also helps to use a website like TypeRush to make use of their ‘Tricky Keys’ feature that pops up after you have taken a test so you can find out where you need to improve.
I would also recommend using keybr.com as mentioned earlier. This website adapts to your typing style based on previous tests, thus giving you tests with areas where you are lacking. I would suggest doing at least half an hour of this website each day if you truly want to improve. You should also partake in one (or multiple) of the typing race websites as mentioned above.
You should take note of where your fingers are positioned when typing. Ideally, they should rest on the home row, and the appropriate digit should reach out to the letter that makes most sense to do so. Touch typing websites will help a lot with this.
I should also mention that for years I would use my right index finger to press spacebar, but was aware that this was hindering my potential. I eventually forced myself to switch this to my left thumb (you can use your right thumb if this is more comfortable) and my typing speed improved dramatically once I overcame the initial discomfort. If you have been used to using a different finger, it will feel unnatural at first, however after a bit of time you will adjust and it will become second nature. I cannot stress this point enough and would highly recommend altering the finger you use for spacebar if you currently do not use either of your thumbs.
To recap – regularly carry out typing tests via keybr, compete in typing races, look at using Typing Study to become familiar with positioning, and consider which digit you use for pressing the spacebar.
This section is those who have an above average typing speed of up to 90 words per minute. At this stage, you should not have much of a need to look at the keyboard when typing, except possibly for punctuation and numbers.
The aim for improvement at this stage is not dissimilar to the the intermediate stage. You should focus on partaking in regular typing speed tests, either via single player or multiplayer websites, or both. I have found typer.io to be great for live competitions with other players, as the competitive edge can increase your adrenaline and cause you to type faster and therefore improve your muscle memory faster.
Typists at any level should be looking at websites like keybr and Typing Study (linked above) to improve their technique. As with anything, practice makes perfect, and this is especially true for typing. The more you type certain words, you quicker you will build up muscle memory and type them faster. You should also look at creating an account on Monkeytype which will allow you to see your improvement over time.
I will add that a common point of improvement at this stage is how you type capital letters. You should be holding Shift and tapping the key that you want capitalised, rather than toggling Caps Lock on and off each time. You will save a lot of time in the long run and I cannot stress how important it is that you adopt the technique of using Shift instead of using Caps Lock. I personally use my left pinky finger for this. It’s not unlike playing a guitar – at first, using your pinky finger can feel very uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. The earlier you start to do this, the easier things will be in the future when you want to improve further.
If you’re not already using your left or right thumb for pressing spacebar (as mentioned in the previous section), now is definitely a good time to look at improving this. Using your index finger will only hinder your potential as these are essential digits for pressing essential keys (such as G, H, J, Y, U, M, and N).
This section is for those with a fast typing speed of below 90 and 120 words per minute. At this stage you should be very comfortable with touch typing and should have no need to look at the keyboard (except for less-used punctuation, perhaps).
Your main desire at this point should simply be to improve the rate at which you type words, as well as the accuracy in which you do so. It is hard to convey exactly how you should do this but I will try my best.
You should utilise all of my above tips, such as using typing speed websites and competition websites, as well as the AI-powered keybr website. Frequent use of these websites will help you to build up your muscle memory further and help you type faster.
For a long time I averaged around 120 words per minute and was amazed when I first hit my record of 139 words per minute. I found it hard to beat this record and would consistently be hitting around 125 to 130 words per minute with what looked like no potential for improvement. I thought that those who achieved over 150wpm were simply superhuman. As quite a normal, boring human being, I can confirm that I am not a superhuman, so I believe you can also achieve this.
One thing to mention is the tool you use for the job. Your keyboard is important for typing faster and you should find which keyboard works best for you. I would always recommend a mechanical keyboard over a membrane one, as these offer the huge advantage of having better actuation points and tactile feedback. I would strongly recommend trying either red or brown switches. Using a new keyboard for the first time will always feel unfamiliar, but a few tests on any of the websites listed earlier will help you overcome this fairly quickly.
An important point that is hard to put into words is how you use your mind when typing. I will try my best to convey this and may come back to this section at a later date to elaborate or edit to provide a more concise point. I have found that if I’m consciously thinking about the letters I need to type, I perform poorly. I end up slowing down a lot and pausing to think about the letters being typed. At this stage, you should naturally know where the keys are without a lot of thinking required, so I would recommend eliminating this completely, if possible. Simply look at the letters you need to type (such as in a typing competition or typing test) and let your fingers do the work without thinking about what your hands are doing on the keyboard.
To add onto that point, there are two different techniques you can try alongside this, although you could argue the second one is just an elaboration of the previous technique. One may work better than the other, depending on your current mindset, but it is difficult to describe. The first is to see the words you need to type and imagine each letter rapidly going through your mind as your hands type them. The second is the opposite, which is to not even think about the word that needs typing, and simply let your subconscious do the work. Do not think about the words at all, only that your hands are typing them and correcting any mistakes that may arise. I have found that the harder I think about it, the worse I do. A good analogy for this is like driving a car – if you focus too much on your positioning in the road, you will naturally begin to deviate from the straight path you are driving in. If you simply focus on the road ahead, your arms and hands will make the necessary microadjustments without any input from your active brain. Depending on where my head is at, sometimes I find that I can just think random thoughts about my day etc. while I’m carrying out a test and I will perform better than when I pay attention to the words I’m typing. Other times I find the first method works better. It’s down to you to work out which works better for you, so I would recommend trying both at different times of day (and at different stages of life).
Another tip that I found randomly helped me over the years is what I call grounding (I just made that up and I like the way it sounds, so it’s staying). This is where you place the opposite thumb to the one you use for pressing spacebar onto the bottom of the keyboard just below the spacebar, essentially holding the keyboard in place with your thumb and providing a scaffold/foundation for your other fingers on that hand. So I place my right thumb onto the bottom of the keyboard with a small amount of pressure and then type as normal (using the left thumb for spacebar as I normally do). This stabilises the rest of the hand and works as a solid anchor point for the rest of the fingers. I would suggest trying to incorporate this into your typing strategy and see if it makes any difference, as in my experience it has definitely helped, especially in the morning when I have just woken up and am lacking typing confidence (yes, I’ve decided that that’s a thing now).
To fully maximise your potential, you should look at your seating position and see if you can improve it so that you feel more comfortable. For me, I am able to type faster when I am sitting higher in my chair and my wrists are elevated off of the desk. Tilting the keyboard so the left side is higher than the right side (so the keyboard is slightly diagonal) helps with the movement range of my left hand too.
See how you get on with those techniques and continue practicing using typing websites. Whilst there are different techniques you can adopt, the most important point above all of them is to keep practicing. I will never stop saying that, as it truly is the best way to improve.
I will add more resources and information here as and when I think of anything worth adding.
- Whilst it can be tempting to go all in with maximising your speed, maintaining a high level of accuracy is just as important as if you frequently make mistakes then this will drastically reduce your typing speed. I will regularly take typing tests at a moderate pace (without forcing a faster speed), making a conscious effort to type with 100% accuracy. You may be surprised by how much this can help with your overall speed.
- When performing a typing test, it is more efficient to hold CTRL and press either backspace or the delete key (backspace for removing words before the cursor; delete for words after the cursor).
- You should change a setting in Windows to reduce your keyboard typing delay. This is useful for when you need to hold backspace and will save a lot of time in the long run.
- After writing this guide, I came across a website called Type Fu. This seems like an excellent web app for improving your touch typing as it lets you choose which keys to incorporate into a lesson as well as choose between quotes, proverbs, facts and code. I would highly recommend trying this out.