Recently spent time marveling at your co-worker's orderly typing style? As it turns out, it's probably not more efficient. According to a recent study at Aalto University, those who never learned the touch typist method (or who may have skipped a few classes and computer drills) can be just as fast and accurate as their trained colleagues.
For the research, a group of 30 volunteers with varying skill levels and experience were given typing exercises. As they completed the tasks, the experts monitored their efficiency and style using motion capture, eye-tracking technology, and keypress data. They found that despite what you may have learned in computer courses—for instance, that you should stick to the home keys (ASDFJKL:) and use all ten fingers—you can get by with using less.
"We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used six fingers on average," study co-author Anna Maria Feit said in a statement.
For each strategy, there were both fast and slow typers, but the touch typists did keep their eyes on the screen more, which could be useful for some lines of work.
So if using all ten fingers doesn't equal a clear advantage, what does? "We found a range of other factors that can influence performance," co-author Dr. Daryl Weir said in a video (above). "Fast typists more consistently used the same finger to press the same key every time. And also fast typists learned to keep their hands steady and don't move them over the keyboard as much as slow typists do."
The researchers believe that our typing techniques are a reflection of what we do on our computers, not training. "The touch typing system was developed for typing sentences on typewriters," Feit said. "It is not advantageous for Photoshop shortcuts or gaming, often done with one hand on the mouse."