In the past, high school teachers prepared students for the business world by ensuring that they were capable of handwriting letters through the use of cursive and print. As technology gave way to typewriters, teachers began to prepare students for careers by teaching them to properly type letters on typewriters. Today, technology has led to the use of computers in nearly every business industry.
With the widespread use of computers, it has become a necessity for young adults to know how to properly use this technology, including the proper use of the keyboard. Keyboarding is an invaluable skill among those in the workforce, as it is used to type business correspondences, e-mails, and memos, track expenses, and create websites. Keyboarding, however, is also an extremely important skill to have in college. Typing is necessary for college reports, research, e-mailing professors and classmates, and even note-taking. While most high school and college-aged students in today's world know how to operate computers and type, many may not know the proper techniques and finger strokes for maximum typing speed and accuracy. Following proper keyboarding technique can not only increase speed and accuracy, but prevent injuries and strains related to the repetitive and time-consuming typing that every college student experiences.
The first step to learning proper keyboarding technique is to understand the layout of the keyboard itself. There are several different types of keyboard layouts, but the most common is known as the "QWERTY" layout. With this layout, the majority of usage lays within the top and middle rows of keys, with the left hand doing approximately 66% of the keystrokes. The "shift" key is also a popular key among the basic letters and numbers in this keyboard format. Holding the shift key in combination with keys that have two functions allows a person to easily type related punctuation. For instance, a person can type a semicolon with one stroke and then with the use of the "shift" key and the same semicolon key, type a colon. Once a person is familiar with the basic keyboard layout, it is time to focus on the proper typing technique. Before beginning, feet should be flat on the floor, the back straight against the chair with forearms slanted at the keyboard. The typist should keep their fingers curved and upright with their left-hand fingers on the asdf keys, right hand fingers on the jkl; keys and both thumbs resting on the space bar key. Their eyes should be focusing on the information they are to type. This may mean they are looking directly at the computer screen or to the side where a paper copy or book is located, but not directly at the keyboard or their hands.
When the basics of keyboard layout, posture, and hand placement have been established, it is time to begin typing. Accuracy and speed are not important for beginners, as the basics of keyboarding are focused more on developing proper technique and finger strokes. Beginners should start by typing keys that are located on the middle row, where their hands are placed. This middle row of keys, asdf on the left hand and jkl; on the right hand, is known as home row. It is called home row because in proper typing technique, the hands always return to this position after a key stroke. It is ideal to begin practicing each of the keys on home row and then branching out to key strokes that are located in close proximity to the home row, to develop a feel for typing and returning to home row. When these keys become comfortable for the typist, they usually begin typing simple words and phrases that feature a more varied amount of keys. There are several lessons and games available online for beginners to practice each keystroke. When each keystroke has been mastered, the beginner can move on to more detailed typing.
Although intermediate typists are familiar with the basic concepts of keyboarding, they require continual practice to maintain the fundamental knowledge they have gained. More complicated sentences featuring a variety of punctuation, capitalization, and special characters can be introduced into practice tests. Intermediate level punctuation includes the use of the "shift" key in combination with keys that have other uses. Typists at this level also begin to increase their typing speed and accuracy as they gain further knowledge of keyboard functions.
After the basics of keyboarding have been mastered, the most important step to improving keyboarding skills is simply practice. The more a typist practices, the faster and more accurate they become. For those with advanced keyboarding skills, speed and accuracy become increasingly important. There are many tests available online that can tell a person their typing speed as well as how accurate their keystrokes were during the test. This can be very useful to know, as employers in many office settings will want to know a potential employee's typing speed, and they may even require a typing test as part of an interview. Even more advanced and highly skilled typists may become interested in learning to use different keyboard layouts and typing in different languages.
Keyboard shortcuts are often used in the academic and business world as a way to make computer operations much quicker. It takes time for a person that is typing to stop and use a mouse to perform another function. Since both hands are already on the keyboard while typing, these shortcuts are ideal for those who spend a lot of time working with computers. Many of the shortcuts are universal and used within many applications. For instance, the keys CTRL+V when pushed in unison enable a person to paste text in a word processing application, blank e-mail, social media platform, or other website. The same applies to shortcuts such as CTRL+A to select text, CTRL+C to copy text, and CTRL+F to find specific text on a page. While there are many keyboard shortcuts that are universal, there are also more specialized shortcuts for specific applications or operating systems that can be very useful for those who use them frequently. There are numerous guides that discuss keyboarding shortcuts, although many of them are featured beside the function button that one clicks with a mouse. For instance, when saving a document in most word processors, a person attempting to save a file will click the "file" menu and locate the "save" option. Many people simply click the "save" button and do not think twice; however, upon closer inspection, one will see that beside the text that states "save" there is also text that says CTRL+S on the right-hand side of the text. These codes listed beside the text are often the quickest and easiest way to learn the use of keyboard shortcuts.