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Home » Tip of the Week » Improve Your Typing Speed

Improve Your Typing Speed

9th July, 2014 I by Charlotte Klein

As a freelance translator, you know that the speed at which you type can significantly impact your success in the field. The slower you type, the slower you produce each translation, which limits the number of jobs you can complete in a week. Even if you would like to improve your speed, you may worry that your typing habits are impossible to change. With a bit of help, however, anybody can learn to type faster.

Before you start, evaluate your typing skills. To determine if it would be worthwhile to improve your typing speed, take a few online tests. We particularly like 10fastfingers because it offers tests in a variety of languages. Another good choice is Keybr, since it provides a complete profile of your overall proficiency in addition to letter-specific information. Once you have completed the tests, you will be told how many words per minute (WPM) you type. While there is no official “good” or “bad” WPM, 40 is typically considered “average”, 65 “good”, and over 100 “excellent”. Since typing speed and accuracy form a crucial component of your job, you should aim to fall somewhere in the good to excellent range. The higher the better, as long as precision is not sacrificed for speed. If you are not satisfied with your score, continue reading for a few tips that should help you reach your goals.

  1. Become familiar with the keyboard. The key to touch-typing is muscle memory; instead of constantly looking at the keyboard to type, your fingers will do the work for you. If you use multiple keyboard layouts, you will have to learn the differences that set each apart. If you often use diacritical marks, be sure to know where on the keyboard you can find the symbols necessary to produce them.
  2. Consider taking a typing course. Many websites offer free typing lessons you can take from the comfort of your own home. Good examples of such websites include TypingWeb (particularly helpful for translators using different keyboard layouts, as it supports over 25) and TypingTest, which also provides a simple and accurate evaluation. You will learn valuable tips, including proper hand placement and good posture. The courses will also teach you how to stop looking at the keyboard and how to avoid making mistakes as your speed increases.
  3. Keep practicing! Even after you’ve completed a course, you will need to keep practicing the skills you learned in order to continue improving. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see an instant change. Learning to touch type can take time, but it is certainly worth it in the long run.

Typing quickly and accurately is always a useful skill to have, but for freelance translators, it is absolutely necessary. It can be especially tricky for linguists typing in multiple languages, because distinct symbols, marks, and keyboard layouts may be used. This should not deter you from learning to touch type, however; in fact, putting effort into becoming entirely familiar with each of the keys may help resolve some of the frustrations associated with typing in various languages.

How fast can you type? Do you have any tips for translators looking to improve their typing speed? We’d love to read your comments below!

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