What are the benefits of learning how to touch-type?

What are the benefits of learning how to touch-type?

27 Jul 2023

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This informal CPD article ‘What are the benefits of learning how to touch-type’ was provided by Touch-type Read and Spell (TTRS), an organisation offering a comprehensive touch-typing course based on a structured program of phonics. As it takes a multi-sensory approach to tuition, TTRS is also suitable for users who struggle with physical impairments and specific learning difficulties, like dyslexia.

Touch-typing is the ability to find letter keys without looking at the keyboard. Using the sense of touch frees your eyes to focus on the screen, and your brain to focus on the content of your writing. For this same reason note-taking and copying are also made easier by touch-typing. For a range of reasons, some people struggle with the physical process of writing by hand.

Touch-typing is a valuable skill that can be useful for children and adults in many areas of life including at home, school, and work. Touch-typing courses are recommended (Connelly, Gee & Walsh, 2007) to enhance keyboarding fluency in students and ‘unlock the potential of the word processor for children’s writing.’ In fact, learning to touch-type gives people of all ages an advantage because they will become faster in every activity that involves using a computer, whether they’re sending emails, searching for information online or writing academic essays.

Understanding the benefits of touch-typing

Did you know that the benefits of learning to touch-type are far wider than simply being faster and more proficient at typing? Typing can improve the quality of your work, as thoughts flow freely through the fingertips and onto the screen, without the interruption of searching the keyboard for the right keys. Recent research (van Weerdenburg, Tesselhof, van der Meijden, 2019) has shown a positive correlation between touch-typing tuition and improved spelling and narrative skills in children from Years 4, 5 and 6. 

Typing involves kinaesthetic learning (Freeman, MacKinnon & Miller, 2005) and the multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham approach has been shown to positively impact on literacy skills for students with dyslexia (Ritchey & Goeke, 2006; Kok Hwee & Houhgton, 2011; Lim & Oei, 2015), and those who struggle with handwriting (Quinn, Behrmann, Mastropieri, & Chung, 2009).

How to learn touch-typing

Many adult learning programs within colleges, universities and libraries offer courses in basic computer skills, some of which may include touch-typing skills. It is also possible to learn how to touch-type independently. If you have access to a computer, there are several self-study programs you can choose from. One of the first things you will need to learn is the home-row position on the keyboard, also known as the home keys. This is where you place your fingers when your hands are at rest. You will notice there are tiny bumps on the F and J keys which help you to find the correct starting position without even looking at the keyboard. A self-study course will provide guidance on which fingers are used to type which keys, and how to use combinations of key presses to type capital letters and punctuation marks.

Here are three important things to consider when you’re learning how to touch-type:

1. The letters and words you practise with are important. 

That’s because the words you practise with should familiarise you with the most common letter combinations in English. In this way, movement patterns will feel more comfortable, and reaching for certain keys will feel less awkward, when you begin typing words.

2. How often and how long you practise are important.

If you aren’t practising frequently enough, it will be harder to commit the movements to memory and turn them into procedural knowledge. If you try attempting a very long touch-typing session, you may feel tired and frustrated by the end, and this can lead you to make more mistakes and feel demotivated. Try frequent, shorter sessions to make regular progress.

3. How you sit at the computer, the position of your keyboard, and the angle of your wrists, are all important. 

Try to bend your arms at a 90-degree angle so your wrists are straight, this will prevent wrist injury and pain. Think of the position as the same as one you might adopt if you were playing the piano. In some cases, for example if you have very small or very big hands or are only able to type using one hand, you may want to explore different keyboard options. It’s important that your chair and desk are at the right height. This is so your wrists are hovering over the keyboard and you’re not dropping your hands and putting pressure on the nerves on the underside of your wrists.

4. Utilise video to help you self-learn.

How good your touch-typing technique is can be hard to judge when you’re learning on your own. One idea, to help with this, is to video your hands while you’re typing. Play back the recording and then compare your performance to that of a proficient touch-typist. You should be able to find examples online. Recording yourself can also be useful if you find you’re struggling with a particular key or key combination. You can make a video documenting the issue and then post it on a typing forum or ask an expert/tutor for targeted advice.

Improve speed and efficiency at the computer

How touch-typing can improve other skills

Remember that learning to touch-type can improve your speed and efficiency at the computer. Typing skills can also help you grow your confidence at school and/or in the workplace. Depending on how you learn, typing might improve your spelling skills and writing fluency too.

One more thing to keep in mind is that it’s important not to become disheartened when you first start learning to touch-type. It may initially take you longer to write on the computer while you learn the correct fingers for each of the keys without looking. However, in the long run, you will become much quicker than if you stick with two-finger typing. This means the new movement patterns will be slower to execute at first. Keep pushing ahead and practising and you will be pleased with the end result.

As you strengthen the muscles in your hands and the key-press movements become more familiar, you’ll start to type more fluently. That’s when you’re likely to see a boost in speed and a reduction in the number of errors you make. Your speed on high frequency words will develop first. This is because you are typing a set of keys repeatedly, so the pattern becomes procedural knowledge faster.

As you begin using your new typing skills for work and school, writing emails, reports, essays, and other electronic documents, you will find you’re even more fluent at the keyboard. Ideas may seem to flow directly from your brain through your fingertips and onto the screen. That’s why it’s so important to persist in learning the correct fingering.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Touch-type Read and Spell, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.


Connelly, V., Gee, D., & Walsh, E. (2007). A comparison of keyboarded and handwritten compositions and the relationship with transcription speed. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(2), 479-492.

Van Weerdenburg, M., Tesselhof, M., & van der Meijden, H. (2019). Touch‐typing for better spelling and narrative‐writing skills on the computer. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35(1), 143-152. 

Freeman, A. R., Mackinnon, J. R., & Miller, L. T. (2005). Keyboarding for students with handwriting problems: a literature review. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 25(1-2), 119-147.

Ritchey, K. D., & Goeke, J. L. (2006). Orton-Gillingham and Orton-Gillingham—based reading instruction: a review of the literature. The Journal of Special Education, 40(3), 171-183. 

Quinn, B. S., Behrmann, M., Mastropieri, M., Chung, Y., Bausch, M. E., & Ault, M. J. (2009). Who is using assistive technology in schools? Journal of Special Education Technology, 24(1), 1-13.


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Touch-type Read and Spell

Touch-type Read and Spell

For more information from Touch-type Read and Spell, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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