Is Touch-Typing an Obsolete Skill?

I can touch type.

If you don’t know what I mean, you probably don’t touch type, and if you don’t touch type, you hunt-and-peck.

I didn’t make up the terms so don’t get mad at me if you don’t like them. I’ve seen impossibly fast hunt-and-peck typing on a keyboard, and perhaps the greatest hnp typists are texters, whose thumbs can fly across their keypads.

I would compare their words-per-minute output, but as we all know, texting involves “words” that would make my typing instructor lulz.

Photo by Lainey Powell from Flickr used under Creative Commons

Touch-typing is a lost skill, and I wonder why, given its utility to people like me who use a keyboard all the live-long day. I’ve met developers who pound out millions of characters each week without touch-typing. It seems horribly inefficient.

Didn’t they ever stop to wonder why the “F” and “J” keys have nubbies on them?

It would seem odd that touch-typing classes have not become a prerequisite of computer science courses, if only to help the students become more productive. I don’t know if they are, but somehow I doubt it.


Because through texting and computers at home, children are exposed to keyboards much earlier now, and it’s supremely tough to break ingrained habits like hnp typing. So what’s the point of a touch-typing class?

In addition, I doubt anyone finds real utility in a typing class now, since the touch-typing hallmark statistic of words-per-minute no longer seems valid or useful to getting a job.

The benefits of learning to touch-type vs. hnp typing are too hard to quantify, and thus, “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy yellow dog” is now just a sentence no one uses anymore.

So, am I right? Can anyone touch-type anymore?

Find the comments.




  1. It’s worth it to take the time to touch-type guys. The only question is, will the keyboard ever become obsolete? I’m already using talk to text on my phone. Maybe that’s a discussion for another blog.

    I took typing class in Middle School and used a lot of AIM & AOL chat rooms at the time.

    Your score: 546 CPM (that is 109 WPM)

    Your score beats or equals 99.45% of all.

    Congratulations! You typed all 99 words correctly!

    I advise you to take a 2 minute break now.

  2. A skill is driven by the needs of the environment or the society. Most of us cannot start a fire without matches because we just don’t need that to survive. Look back 200 years ago and I’m sure lots of people, including children, could do it.

    So the question is, do we need touch typing in the future? No. Unless you have business writing lengthy essays or books, no you don’t. While it’s true many of us write something everyday, it’s usually in short bursts such as texting or post updates. Also, consider speech to text technology. Just as the typewriter reduced the need to write lengthy letters by longhand, with a quill, so it is that typewriters have been replaced with word processing and other forms of communication.

  3. I don’t think it’s about “needing it”, Andrew Borne, it’s about whether you can be better at what you do if you can. I got by ok without it for 25 years, but I can do the same stuff better now since I learned to touch type.

    Some people don’t benefit from it, some do. Same as it was 50 years ago before word processing. The point is, it’s not obsolete.

  4. That’s true P in your reply to Andrew Borne. And Andrew, there are heaps of people who do actually type long articles for their work or personal needs.

    Some of us are typing up our life stories or notes for courses and students for their studies and all the assignments that have to be handed in typed.

    Maybe we won’t type in the future but a long time from now. You want to read the comments I get from people who have lost their jobs because they haven’t got good enough typing skills and are pleased to find a good touch typing course to help them.

  5. I don’t think touch typing is a lost skill at all. As someone who learned how to touch type as adult I can attest to how difficult it is to survive a a job in an office setting without the ability to touch type.

  6. That is interesting to hear Ben and I would be interested to know which country you are working in. In New Zealand there are still many jobs which require correctly typed work and many people in management are now wanting to type themselves.

    Also, students MUST hand in their assignments for any subject in a correctly set out, accurately typed assignment.

    However, I have rung around the secondary schools and found that very few are actually offering a typing course for their students.

    At the same time I’m receiving messages from around the world from teachers wanting a good touch typing course for their student.

  7. I confess I am a touch-typist. I first took touch typing as a high school course, at which point I had been hunting-and-pecking for ten years, so it’s certainly not an unbreakable, ingrained habit…

    Personally, I don’t find that the SPEED of typing is the true advantage to touch typing. Rather, if you consider the fact that touch typists look at the screen while typing, you end up with

    1. better accuracy, as you catch mistakes as they are being typed (rather than having to read over your text later on, which I find less effective)

    2. better ergonomics, as you are looking forward at the screen, rather than looking down at your keyboard all the time

    With that said, I often wonder if a better “keyboard” could be developed. We are using a flat rectangular keyboard, I suspect, because it was developed with the mechanics of a mechanical typewriter in mind.

  8. Your points are so right James.

    I’m glad you confirmed that it IS possible to change – but there has to be a real desire to do so.

    About keyboards. Do a google search for keyboards, maybe keyboard styles or shapes.

    Some are actually almost like two parts, one for each hand, on a slanting angle.

    You might be surprised what’s available, but I feel comfortable with the standard layout but it’s rather annoying when needing to buy a new laptop to find where some frequently used ‘extra’ keys are situated. No god finding that out after you get it home as I did once.

  9. I was thinking recently about how some people think standard keyboards are going out so there is no need for touch typing, but it seems, where ever I go – I see people using keyboards – including the hospital where it’s laptops, not notebooks, which are being taken round wards to record patient’s details etc. Big department stores, hospital surgeries, all are still using them.

    It’s obvious Touch Typing is not obsolete. There are still vast numbers of websites offering typing courses. My own web site averages 9,000 to 11,000 visits on week days and even allowing for a bounce rate that’s a lot.

    Also, we have a growing response to our eBook which promotes the benefits of Touch Typing and best way to achieve this.You can check this though the following link:

  10. Thanks for this Website Article/etc, and some Interesting Comments, but The Question(s) (imho) … is the Number of those who can Officially Type with ‘All Fingers’ increasing, decreasing, or about the same ? … and what ‘source’ is used to determine those Numbers ? … is there some kind of Survey/Study/etc that gives ‘Hard Numbers/Percentages/etc’ ? … someone know/provide the Link(s)/Source(s)/etc to those ‘Numbers’ ? … thanks again

  11. BC, are you wanting to include people who type with all fingers but have to look at the keyboard? I’d class those people as between hunt and peck and touch typing.

  12. From responses I have had it appears that at least in some countries there are people losing their jobs because of their poor typing skills and say tell me they need to touch type at a higher level before they can get another job.

    Certainly there are people who touch type, meaning they don’t NEED to look at the keys to find which to type and some will use four fingers in each hand, others maybe less, but may sometimes look at the screen and other times at the keyboard.

    However, if you can keep your eyes on the screen and not keep looking up and down you are more likely to spot errors in time to correct them ‘on the spot’ and save a lot of time proof reading after to find errors.

    Of course, if you are looking up and down while you are copying something from a book or notes beside your keyboard it is easy to lose your place on the page you are copying from. It’s great if you can keep on reading and know your typing will end up perfect or with very few mistakes to correct.

  13. I learned “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs” Your sentence leaves a touch typist not knowing where to find “S”. “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy yellow dog”
    I love the comment about kids today not knowing how to use matches. Very true

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  15. Here in the UK I taught the whole of my kids primary (elementary) school to touch type using the BBC dance mat typing course on the web. It took roughly 6 hours to teach the average child aged 7-11 to touch type. I did it in 12 half hour sessions over a term in groups of 30 – once a week at lunchtime. I was very firm that they looked at the screen and did not look at their fingers. They loved it and I feel like I have given those 200 kids a skill for life. Really easy to do. My daughter is dyslexic so for her it really was a key skill.

  16. Good for you. That’s a great achievement. My concerns over recent years have been that so many, from such a young age, are allowed to use computers and not shown any actual typing skills so when they need them for work skills or study assignments, they are stuck with their hunt and peck methods unless somebody prompts them to replace that habit with true Touch Typing.

  17. The reason I’m here is I’m looking for some statistics on typing speed. I’m the hunt-and-peck type and first of all, I don’t know how common that is. I think touch typing gives a clear advantage in typing speed, so I guess I’m curious about hunt-and-peck speed. I’ve got mine at 55 WPM, anyone else?

  18. Becca, the advantage touch typists have over the hunt and peck is that they learn to type with their fingers over what are called the Home Keys and stretch the most suitable finger to any other key, seeing in their mind where each key is, rather than having to keep looking at the keyboard to find the required key.

    If they are thinking out what they want to type they can keep their eyes on the screen and see if their typing is appearing correctly or if they are copying from a page they don’t loose their place on the page by looking up and down.

    Some hunt and peck can type quite fast but a ‘top touch typist’ could type faster.

    I’ve known some sight impaired typists who do very well with their touch typing.

  19. At the age of 17, I can touch type at sustained speeds of over 110WPM. Many of the students in my school aren’t even half as fast as me, though I’m fairly certain that most of them are touch-typists.

    The thing is, though, you can only type as fast as you can think. Being able to type fast has only really helped me out as far as mindlessly copying down notes from the board or transcribing particularly crucial excerpts from a teacher’s speech.

    When I have to write a 1,000 word assignment, I’m probably slower than those students who can only type maybe 50wpm, and even if I’m not, I sometimes type before I think, resulting in an only vaguely coherent mess of words.

    Having the capacity to type fast has not been as beneficial to me as one might think, though it is a source of pride since it’s the one thing I’m really good at.

    Want to know how I learned to touch type?

    By myself, starting from around age 3/4. I learned my alphabet from the keyboard, and by the time I was somewhere around 10-12, it was a cool parlor trick to show off. At 13, I decided to test my typing speed via, which averaged upwards of 80WPM.

    Now, I can type up to (apparently) 155WPM for very short bursts with both hands, 60WPM with just my right hand, and 50WPM with just my left hand…not without lots of backspacing.

    80WPM is more than enough for whatever activity you need it for, and 60WPM is suitable. The excess speed is unnecessary and largely unusable depending on how quickly the person behind the keyboard thinks. As far as I’m aware, most teens know how to touch type at an acceptable level – no doubt because of the Internet’s heavily increasing presence in our lives – which is why there isn’t a necessity for touch typing classes; at least in Australia.

    There ought to be a class for speeding up your thought processes.

  20. You have spoken well J with this sentence –

    “The thing is, though, you can only type as fast as you can think”

    That just about tells it all. And what you said about “typing what the teacher is speaking” or or “what is written on the blackboard” (keeping from looking down at the keys as yu ‘touch type’.

  21. Hi everyone. Happy 2017 to you all!

    If someone is looking for a great typing class? One is coming up soon!! Not only will you learn to type well but you will also learn to produce various types of documents efficiently. You will also be taught how to use other application tools such as spreadsheet applications and graphic presentation applications.

    I really do not believe typing is a lost skill. When you touch type, it makes your fingers free and your mind free to concentrate on the actual task at hand. If you are an office worker touch typing will prove an advantage for you.

    Watch out! A superior product, that the world can afford is about to hit the market!!

  22. Very interesting comments all round. But another advantage of touch typing was not mentioned: with the ‘hunt and peck’ method you jab on the keys a lot more forcefully and with fewer fingers. Over time, this will result in damage to the finger joints – something many academics who have been pecking for many years suffer from.

  23. Yes, Kerstin, that is really important. I had mentioned that quite some time ago. If you end up with RSI, Repetitive Strain Injury, you could very well end up not being able to type at all.

  24. Touch typing does not have a field of vision advantage. I peck exclusively and do not look down at my keyboard basically ever. I manage about 65wpm.

  25. If you don’t ever look at the keyboard, isn’t that touch typing, whether you use ten fingers or two or one?

  26. Well, I think the name Touch Typing originally meant that by lightly feeling the ‘touch’ of your fingers over the keys called the Home Keys in the middle row, ASDF for left and JKL: for right, it meant basically you relied on ‘touch’ rather than ‘look’ because you knew which keys which fingers were resting over (touching). And, well, I’ve known and watched many people who have over the years become quite fast using just a few fingers, type accurately, because by then they have come to know where the letter keys are. For me, I prefer to keep my hands still and not use all that energy waving them around to get those few fingers moving all around the keyboard.

  27. I don’t touch type, or hunt and peck. i started out hunting an pecking but, now I know my keyboard well enough that I don’t have to look at the keyboard but, I also dont have to keep my fingers in the home row positions. i just.. type 😛

  28. I was taught to touch type (Royal Society of Arts) standard at the age of 16, at Salisbury and South Wilts College for Further Education. Joining the Civil Service in 1961 I found that typing was confined to typing and secretarial grades and it was not until computers were introduced for general use many years later that my touch typing skill was called into action. Despite lying dormant for a long time there was instant recall and speed rapidly returned. Writing letters and producing drafts could be done quickly with the minimum effort. For me being able to touch type has proved to be a valuable asset
    Learning to touch type is similar to learning how to ride a bicycle and is a skill which remains with a person forever. Personally I find it a great shame to see touch typing described as obsolete.

  29. You are so right John. these skills if mastered correctly when first learned, never have to be re-learned in the future. Do we ever forget our ‘times tables’ or ‘basic spelling’ if we mastered them early in life?

  30. I teach elementary school and part of our curriculum is to teach students touch typing. We use a website called although when kids are actually typing assignments, they don’t usually touch type, they will generally revert back to hunt and peck.

  31. That’s interesting. Why don’t they stick to their touch typing skills they’ve been learning? The problem is that although most assignments now have to be handed in correctly typed, very few schools seems to be typing their students to type.

  32. Ah yes, money to earn. But I offer my for free to give to others the beginner and advanced typing skills I’ve been fortunate to develop and have thousands of visits daily – AND I can teach many and not have to do any marking.

  33. As a touch-typist, I am also shocked by how many people spend dozens of hours per week at a keyboard without learning to touch type. However, your example of developer efficiency does not take into account the all the punctuation/symbols used in coding. I bet the vast majority of touch-typists would have to revert to HNP for coding, because very few touch-typist have mastered quick and accurate typing using all the symbols used in coding ([{}]\/*&$% etc;:). The again it might be worth doing so. I don’t think most training programs give much attention the symbols less commonly used in everyday writing.

    Also, while I type dozens of hours per week in my personal time, in my job we exclusively use voice-recognition software to create documents, and I expect this to continue to more common. I’m a doctor and we make all of reports in the chart with voice recognition software (which is replacing human transcriptionists).

    Regarding texters being some of the fastest hnp typists, consider that some of the super fast texters may not be “hunting.” I am a very fast smartphone typist and I don’t look at the keyboard at all. I guess you can’t call it touch typing because it’s not based on touch, since there is no tactile feedback. The skill is based on motor memory of where my thumb should go (and keyboard touch-typing definitely helped me pick it up). Without the tactile feedback, I miss keys a lot, but autocorrect fixes almost all the mistakes. My eyes are totally focused on the output, to quickly catch errors that autocorrect missed.

  34. Thinking is always the bottleneck of programmer productivity. If it isn’t, you’re just typing badly thought out crap that will either be quickly deleted/replaced or the cause of endless future maintenance problems.

    Decently fast hunting and pecking is more than sufficient for programmers. You aren’t typing up huge volumes of meeting minutes or something.

    But of course, sadists who have wasted hours of their lives “bettering” themselves will always beg to differ and try to talk your ear off about how superior it is. Meanwhile their code probably stinks.

  35. I think you mean masochists, John? As a relatively recent convert to touch typing after a few decades as a programmer, I would have to say I’ve found it worth at least learning to touch type the square and round brackets, and the percent key, as they’re very common in the type of programming I do, and it does make it all less painful.

    More so the number keys, as I often have to transcribe 5 or 6 digit numbers from paper or another screen. They don’t really require learning, one only needs to sit 8 fingers on 1-4 and 7-0, and you can work it out as you go because they’re in order.

  36. I learnt to touch type in the late 60s. I loved it. Its great I was able to read, type and converse with associates all at the same time. I also make more mistakes if I look at the keyboard, the brain seems to type the word in my head before I physically do it.

  37. It’s interesting to come back and read the last several comments with a great variety of thoughts and emphasis on the way you type, hunt and peck or touch typing.

    I agree that many of us don’t always use true touch typing for characters and/or series of numbers but many eventually become a natural stretch of a suitable finger from its Home Key position. For this reason I have included special lessons in my free for these: Advanced Typing Skills 6 & 7.

    I would be interested in what some of you think of these – are they helpful?

    There are many Keyboard Shortcuts which help you to finish your typing more quickly and are so helpful and easy to use without looking at the keyboard. Also many typists may not know that in most Word programs there are automatic ‘auto complete’ and ‘auto correct’ which save time if we remember to use them . I agree that typing some medical information is tricky and using tablets etc, and voice recognition may not require touch typing but normal keyboards will be with us for many years I believe. Happy typing all.

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  39. Don’t know if you, FirstTeri, are referring the this “Is Touch-Typing an Obsolete Skill or my learntyping,.org I mentioned in my comment. I prefer to keep this as a FREE on line course to give back the skills I have gained over the years as teacher in schools and with elderly in what we call SeniorNet.

  40. Donald, you mean touch screen touch typing? I find I can’t do it on an iPad. My touch typing skills help me find the keys quickly, but I have to look. On a phone, if I hold it in two hands and type with my thumbs, I can almost do it, but I’m often one key out.

    Apple says you can do it, just trust the autocorrect, but I’ve found it’s far more accurate to turn off autocorrect and fix the mistakes later. At least the words have the right number of letters that way, and the ones that I typed right stay right.

  41. Honestly, I do touch type but it’s not exactly home row, it’s my own version where I cover more of the keyboard with my left hand, since I’m a lefty. XD However, you can write way faster if you don’t have to look down at your keys every two seconds. Whenever I see people using only their index fingers it makes me feel irritated for some reason… I just want to step in and be all, ok let me do it. This is going to take forever if you keep just using two fingers. So I really hope that it’s not a dying art. That and I write better than I speak so… there’s no ums or things like that in what I write, unless I really want to say um. I saw that talk and it types thing in use and it’s really awkward. For example if you were to say, “I went to the market.” If you used the talking and typing program you’d have to say, “I went to the market period” like every punctuation you have to actually say. That would drive me mental. Since you don’t really thing . you just think end of a sentence add a dot . there done.

  42. I’ve been a touch typer for as long as I can remember… I’ve been using them basically since I was 6 months old, in 1994.

    I can’t understand how people do the “hunt and peck” thing! Imagine writing a 10k word document one slow letter at a time… It’d take like… A week!

    When I think of programmers, I think of long lines of text code, and fingers flying rapidly over a keyboard– I don’t think I’ve ever seen the two finger method… Though kudos to those that use it, because that’s gotta be even tougher on your body and mind.

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