How Fast Do You Type?

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I throw out a thread of something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life. Today the subject is how fast you type.

As a writer, it’s helpful to be able to type quickly. One’s thoughts usually flow faster than one’s fingers across a keyboard, and when you get that right sentence in your head, you want to slap it on the page as quickly as possible.

I first took typing in 9th grade, when it was offered as a high school course. (Do they do that now?) We sat at IBM Selectrics typing jjjj, ffff, other letters, and then short paragraphs, and finally one-page documents. I got all the way up to 45 words per minute (wpm).

Not very fast.

But enough for me to get my first secretary job while in college. In fact, I worked several secretary jobs in college and as a legal assistant after I graduated. While some of me (okay, a lot of me) wishes I’d started writing at age 20, I look back and think it wasn’t such a waste to have all those years of typing, typing, typing.

Because my best typing test score, many years ago, was a whopping 104 wpm.

On an IBM Selectric.

Selectric typewriter
IBM Selectric
Pic by Oliver Kurmis Quelle
via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been wondering how fast I type now. Perhaps I’ve dropped in speed, or maybe I’ve gotten faster. Maybe I could even approach my mother’s amazing 120 wpm. (It’s a sight to behold.) So I went hunting for good typing tests on the web.

I tried several out for y’all, and here’s the one I liked the best: Head over there and see how you do.

As for me, I’m slower now. But not by much.

Still, you’d think as fast as I type, I’d have eight books out by now! 😉


Speaking of those books, here are my goals for the upcoming A Round of Words in 80 Days:

  • Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel.
  • Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit.
  • Read 10 fiction books.
  • Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. (I read the first half last round.)
  • Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week.
  • Attend at least one RWA meeting.

So how’s your typing these days? Do you think you’re faster or slower than before? If you’re willing to share, what was your typing speed?

40 thoughts on “How Fast Do You Type?

  1. I never took typing in school (and I wish I had now, because I only hunt and peck with about four fingers–though I have reach up to 48wpm that way when I was doing secretarial work).

    120 wpm? Wow… I have trouble contemplating that. (Actually your 105wpm is pretty amazing to imagine, Jule.) Still, it’s as much the story as the words… You know that. Quick typing is just another way to get things done faster.

    1. Absolutely, it’s the story, Eden! I just feel better about deleting a whole scene if it only took me a few minutes to write it. LOL. 😉

      No, really, I think quick typing is a nice tool for a writer to have, but not necessary and certainly not enough to get a good novel. Thanks!

  2. I took typing in middle school and in high school. I wasn’t very good at either class and barely made the 20 wpm that you had to make to pass the class. I learned to type faster in college when I visited chat rooms. I had to type fast to keep up with conversations. I got up to about 40 wpm doing that. This also came in handy when I was typing papers as 40 wpm is a lot faster than 20 wpm. I got up to about 60 maybe 70 wpm when I worked as a Legal Secretary after I graduated. Those were some long days typing up dictation tapes. In retrospect, I wish I had been typing my own thoughts rather than someone else’s. According to that test you posted, I type at about 45 wpm now. And wow at your 105 wpm and your mother’s 120 wpm. The fastest typer I’ve witnessed is 90 wpm and I thought that was fast.

    1. I worked as a legal secretary too! Ah, Dictaphone, what a love-hate relationship we had!

      I think there’s a typing speed that’s enough for a writer, where you can get your thoughts down fast enough without losing them. I’m sure your 70 wpm is plenty fast! Best wishes, Melissa.

  3. I think I topped out at 140-145 wpm when I was a secretary back in the day. I did data entry, so it wasn’t just letters/words…it was addresses and info with numbers for 8-10 hours a day. I ended up really good at using the number pad :-). I think if I’ve been working all day I still hit about 120-ish. Give or take. I do type ridiculously fast and I do usually get comments if people hear me doing it heh. I attribute it to many years of piano lessons (which strengthen the fingers and the coordination of each finger to move independently) and the first typing class I had in high school. Yep, been there, done that, on the old Selectrics. I loved that class…I love to type. I know I’m odd. 😉

    That’s why I do all my brainstorming and all my writing on the computer. Because my fingers move far faster than my hand does when I’m writing out long hand. And because I just like the feel of it. I was meant to be digital 😀

    I’m going to go take the typing test after I wake up and have caffeine and see what they think I’m doing now. Fun!

    1. WOW. Just WOW. My mother also played piano, and that certainly helped. If you can play Flight of the Bumblebee, you can probably type fast.

      Still, that’s the highest wpm I’ve known anyone having. Good for you! It’s just a nice tool to be able to type quickly. I also prefer to type than write. I can get things down much quicker. Thanks for commenting!

    2. I am that way too. I gave up long hand writing of my stories years ago. It’s just too slow for me. Its so slow for me that I’m more likely to forget a line of dialogue or character action before I can write it down because my brain is moving on to the next thing.

  4. I’m so glad I took typing in high school! They don’t really teach it that way now. It’s a computer class with bits of keyboarding (since they don’t have typewriters, of course). So different! Of course, I can’t get my kid to take that class. 😀

    I’ve never been a fast typist. I may have maxed out at 60 wpm. I’m a bit slower these days unless I don’t care about errors. LOL

    1. Yes, my kids had some typing instruction on keyboards in computer lab in elementary. I think my kids are master clickers, though, not master typists.

      I do think it’s marvelous to be typing on a keyboard these days. Those errors don’t matter nearly so much as they did when you had to painstakingly remove them with typewriter eraser tape. Thanks for coming by, Diana!

  5. I also took typing in high school 9th grade. Your IBM Selectric looks very familiar. We had to put a paper over our hands so we couldn’t see them during the tests. I don’t know how fast I am now, but I wasn’t very fast back then and since our grade was tied to our typing rate, I remember I got a “C” which kept me off the honor roll! My teacher said that ALL women will be secretaries at some point in their lives. I was outraged at the time, but darn it, she was so right! 😀 Love your ROW80 Goals BTW!

    1. “ALL women will be secretaries!” Oh my. It was interesting to see that when I was working as a legal assistant about 20 years ago, many new attorneys were no longer getting secretaries…because they could type on computer keyboards just as fast. These days, I think it’s good for everyone to have some computer keyboard skills, even if the typing isn’t super-fast. Thanks, Kecia!

  6. I think I need to try that again when I’m more awake. LOL I came out in the 70s, which feels slow. Hmm…. At least I spelled Aesop right! Not easy! 😉 Fun stuff, Julie. Your mother — WOW.

    1. Wow. That sure is handy when writing, isn’t it? Not that speed is what matters in writing, but when you do have something you want to get down quickly, you can.

      Good for you, Bill!

      1. Definitely is. Thanks! With my job and two kids and the baseball writing I’m committed to, it’s probably the only way I can get any OTHER writing done at all. 🙂 And my mom didn’t think all that time spent online in place of interpersonal contact when I was in school was doing me any good…

  7. Thanks for the test, Julie, lol. I had to give it a try. I’m 61 wpm, not horrible. We did have typing in junior high. My first couple years out of college I still watched my fingers, I don’t do that anymore. I’ve come a long way 🙂 Here’s to another fabulous round of 80 days.

    1. I think 61 wpm is good. I just wonder if those writers who really can’t top, say, 40 wpm would prefer voice software. (Just thinking aloud).

      Glad you gave it a try! Thanks, S.J.

  8. Oy, Julie. I’m only 51 words a minute. I’ve given this a lot of thought over the last few months. I wondered if the fact that I never learned how to type properly has negatively impacted my writing. I feel like I am very slow — and I have to look at the keyboard from time to time. I don’t even use the proper fingers! I only use my point and my middle fingers. Can you even imagine? My keyboarding skills are not elegant. If I were a Row80 person, my first goal would be to REALLY learn how to type properly.

    I’ve actually tried voice recognition software and it’s just so inaccurate, I’ve found it’s actually slower than if I type something myself. And, I should add, I don’t speak with the same kind of voice or detail with which I write. Do you? I’ve found I’ve had to go back in and do such extensive revision it hardly saved me any time at all. When I have a great ideas for a post, I’ll narrate into my phone so I don’t forget them. Beyond that, I’m still pen and paper — or keyboard.

    1. If you really wanted to, Renee–and I’m not saying that you should–you could probably find free or cheap instruction online and knock back a 10-minute exercise each day or whatever and up your speed. It’s just a matter of getting in some good practice.

      Still, 51 wpm is not bad. It’s certainly not hunt-and-peck. I’m glad you let me know about voice software, though. I’ve wondered about it.

    1. Ha! Yes, WPM = typing speed – errors. I think, though, they should gloss over the ones that you can easily fix in seconds by running a spell check. Right, David? 🙂

  9. I started typing when I was 7 or 8… could never resist a typewriter. I have never had formal training, I have just learnt where the letters are and can type in dim light and without looking at the keyboard: unless the keyboard is in the wrong position, then IT types badly. 😉

    Happy new Round for ROW80. 🙂

    1. Wow. Good for you teaching yourself, Cate!

      I do have major troubles with the ergonomic keyboards that have the keys tilted out. I just can’t type fast on those.

  10. Last time I checked, I think I was somewhere around 90-100 wpm (that’s on a computer – I’m of the generation that’s always had computers at school/in the office ;)). I’ve not done a test for a while, but I’ve been touchtyping since I was about 9, and I get comments at work about my impressive typing speed. I know I don’t use the “correct” finger positions or anything – I remember doing a bit of the “fff jjj” stuff you mentioned on my family’s first computer but for the most part I taught myself.

  11. Having flashbacks here. I too took typing, but in 10th grade. Was up to 45 wpm by the end of the school year, and grateful for that. And it also got me a secretarial job or two or ten, although no one ever really hired me for my typing at that speed. I still have one of those Selectrics on my bookshelf. It’s probably a collector’s item now!

    My biggest problem is errors. I have at least two per sentence. And no, I did not take this test. I’m afraid to know how slow I am. LOL

    1. I don’t know how many errors I have. But I often feel when I make them, and automatically go back and correct. All that’s taken into account with wpm. In fact, one of the typing tests I took but did NOT recommend didn’t let you change a word once you spaced over to the next word, which meant that I couldn’t correct something there and then and get credit for it. Too frustrating.

      I’m sure you’re faster than 45 wpm now, Kassandra. Have a great week!

  12. Sorry I missed this. Fun post. I can only type 48 words per minute on a typing test. But I am much faster (and make fewer errors) when the words come out of my head instead of copied off a page. I don’t know why that is.

    1. Maybe there’s a translation issue, you know. When you know what you want to say, maybe you can get it out faster than reading someone else’s words.

  13. I’m a slow typist that’s why I write my stories in longhand. I took typing in school too. Didn’t do too bad in personal typing but business typing, once the errors were deducted my score was usually in the negative. Couldn’t do speed and accuracy together. Obviously I didn’t become a secretary. lol

    1. Wow, longhand. I’ve tried to do that, but I’m WAY SLOWER by hand. Good for you finding the way that works best for you. Have a marvelous July 4 weekend, Donna!

  14. When I was first out of college working in Manhattan as an administrative assistant, I typed about 80 WPM. I knew before taking this typing test this morning that my skills have dropped (Chronic Lyme) but it wasn’t too bad. I’m at 64 WPM. I’ll take it. Great post, Julie! Got my fingers warmed up for a day of writing. 🙂

  15. Lol, I love your last comment – typing speed has very little to do with generating creative ideas. I wish it were so easy! I type 63 words per minute on a 3 minute timed test at the link you gave me but I believe that’s not a true representation because when you are typing a text that’s already written you neither know what it will say, nor are you familiar with it.

    I find I can type very quickly when I am creating my own comments and content because I’m making it up as I go along. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there’s any tests that allow you to create your own content and test your speed based on that. But I can tell you, typing this comment took less than a minute. And I did a speed test of my own using a three minute timer and a Word document, then divided my word count by 3 and it was higher. Number of characters was 269 per minute which is an average of 4 characters a second. I think that’s a better benchmark than words anyway because punctuation should count as should spacing. They all require a keystroke to happen and thus are an action. Hence why I don’t really agree with the basic typing test – they don’t go far enough in my opinion. But it’s an interesting exercise for someone looking to improve their skills. Fun!

    1. How interesting that you devised your own test! Good for you. I think my typing speed varies quite a lot–based on whether I’m typing my own thoughts or something else, how much energy I feel at the moment, if I’m just getting started or have already warmed up, etc.

      Thanks for your comments, Charity!

  16. By the way, am I the only person who took a typing class in 7th grade? lol This would have been about twenty years ago for me. To this day, I can’t remember why I decided to take it but I’m glad I did. I picked up on it very quickly from the start.

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