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Type 500 characters per minute for two minutes

Spending a fair amount of time in front of the computer, often typing for some reason, I thought it was a good idea to include some sort of goal on the 101-in-1001 list which aimed at typing faster. Although it lies partly outside the scope of the list, I will provide a short background to illuminate the situation.

In February 2005, I changed keyboard layout from Qwerty to Dvorak (read more about Dvorak Simplified Keyboard on Wikipedia). Previous to the switch, I typed about 300 CPM (characters per minute), peaking somewhere around 350 CPM. At the time, I used some sort of individual method, including most fingers but not all. I changed to Dvorak partly because I wanted to learn to type properly, regardless of keyboard layout.

Naturally, the typing speed dropped significantly after the change, averaging around 250 CPM two weeks afterwards. It took a month to equal my former speed of 350 CPM. Since then, recordings have been sparse, but here are milestones to give you an idea of how fast I improved, including what I have already mentioned.

350 CPM – Prior to Dvorak change
250 CPM – February, 2005
350 CPM – March, 2005
400 CPM – May, 2005
450 CPM – December, 2006
519 CPM – August, 2007

As you can see, the last 100 CPM were quite difficult to achieve and required much time. I have not been practicing typing speed explicitly, except for the time immediately after the change to Dvorak, but as loyal readers will have noticed, I tend to write a lot.

Now over to some practical matters. To record speed, I used Stamina Typing Tutor, an excellent piece of software (free to download) that allows the user to practice on external text files. My records have been made using texts I have written myself, with the obvious advantage that I only use words I know. However, a countervailing disadvantage arises from the fact that the text contains errors since they have not been proof-read (typing in your own texts is an excellent way of proof-reading them, by the way).

I could go on discussing why I think it is worthwhile to learn to type correctly, but in a few months I will have used Dvorak for 1000 days and I plan to write something comprehensive for that occasion instead. For now, I am satisfied with changing another task to “finished” and noting that my typing record for two minutes is 519 CPM.

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  1. Anders Hällzon’s avatar

    Nifty. As I said on irc, 500 cpm is really stupidly fast.
    I have “learn touch typing” on my 101-list. (Going to set a cpm/wpm goal now, to have a target.) I’ve been looking for a program to use, and found Klavaro today. Works better on a Linux system. There are others, but they either lack lessons or don’t play well with non-english keyboards.
    (I noticed that Stamina Typing didn’t have a linux version. Pity.)

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  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    Sorry to hear, I have no idea what program might be best for Linux. I think lessons are pretty important in the beginning, especially if it is a good program which tries to make it somewhat entertaining. Swedish characters are something of a problem, since few (no?) lessons make you practice them. When trying to write fast, it is almost always these characters I miss. I make next to no mistakes at all with my right hand (all vowels are on the left on Dvorak).

    As for setting a goal, I should aim for a percentage increase and then assess my current speed as accurately as possible. If you are not touch typing at the moment, an increase of 20% should not be too difficult.

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  3. Ricky’s avatar

    Really nice improvement dvorak.
    For me I am typing 500cpm using qwerty, do you think I will have 100cpm of improvement ahead if I switch to dvorak. But one problem about dvorak is that every companies provides qwerty keyboards…

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    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      Windows comes with US dvorak preinstalled, I don’t think it will be a problem. It’s worse for me who use a customize Swedish version. :) I don’t know what will happen if you switch. I think it depends a lot on how good your typing is now. Dvorak is a chance to relearn typing and get rid of all bad habits.

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