Practice Typing Exercises
If you’re tired of hunting and pecking on the keyboard, it’s probably time to practice your typing skills. When performing these exercises, don’t look at your fingers. Keep your eyes on the screen, and let your fingers find their way without visual aid. The faster they learn how to stretch and move without the help of your eyesight, the faster you’ll become a better typist.
A “pangram” sentence contains every single letter of the alphabet at least once. Typing out a single pangram sentence over and over, or forming paragraphs from different pangrams, gives you the most bang for your practice-time buck. The Shelbyville Central Schools website offers a typing test composed exclusively of pangram sentences. Here are two examples: “See the quick brown fox jump over the lazy dog,” and “I have quickly spotted the four women dozing in the jury box.”
Although you can download free typing practice programs, you probably have something even easier already at hand. Whip out your phone book, flip to the white pages, and practice typing what you see. Set yourself a short assignment of 10 phone numbers — type them out and check your work to see how many mistakes you made. In her book “Emergency Dispatcher: 911 Operator Exam,” Valerie Haynes suggests having someone read to you from the phone book and typing according to dictation, to sharpen both your typing and listening skills.
Sharpen up rusty typing skills by reminding each finger which keys it needs to hit. In her book “Touch Typing in 10 Hours,” Ann Dobson starts new typers off with single-finger drills. For example, she tells typists to take their left middle fingers, positioned on the “d” key, and use it to type the following: ded ede ded ede. Type an entire row of text using this drill. Use the same type of drill to practice all the keyboard’s keys. If you have trouble differentiating between “x” and “c,” for example, do a drill with your left ring finger to type sxs xsx sxs xsx. Follow it up with a drill for your left middle finger: dcd cdc dcd cdc. Do the drills until the movement feels natural and unforced, and you can type out a whole row of the rotating letters without a mistake.
Haynes also describes a method for practicing speed drills. Find a paragraph of text online. Copy the text and paste it into the top of a new blank document. Set a kitchen timer for five minutes, then double space down from the source text, and re-type it exactly as it appears. Do this as many times as you can in five minutes, striving for accuracy as well as speed. Leave a double space between each paragraph repetition. At the end of the five minutes, check your work against the original paragraph and note any errors. Re-do the drill to sharpen accuracy and increase speed.
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