The standard QWERTY finger placement is uncomfortable and terribly designed.

by Peter

I’ve noticed something curious when creating One-Hand Keyboard. It’s a one-handed typing system for injured touch typists. Helps you stay productive if you type for a living and break your wrist.

I won’t get into that here. The important bit is that I know exactly which fingers hit which keys.

  • [E] and [I] are typed with your middle finger reaching upward.
  • [F] and [J] are index finger, home row.
  • [Z] and [.] are ring finger, curling down and out.

Wait, what? That’s not how you type? You type [Z] with your little finger?!? And [X] with your ring finger?

You’re crazy. But it turns out that’s exactly how most people type. I had to pull the initial version of my Mac App because I got it wrong.

I’ve discovered that most people type like this:

Normal touch-typing finger position layout.

See that, on the left? How your left-hand fingers curl inward to hit the bottom row?

It makes my hands want to scream in pain.

I already have RSI, and I type in Dvorak no less. Using an inverted claw grip to hit the [C] key would destroy my hand.

Here’s how I type. I thought this was normal home-row technique, but apparently not.

Better touch-typing finger position layout.

See those beautiful key cascades on the left? The ones that follow the curling-movement physiology of your fingers rather than go completely perpendicular to the way your digits want to move?

Feels good man. You already type like this with your right hand. Do it with your left as well.

Universally Taught

The sad thing is that this uncomfortable finger placement is so widespread. Searching Google Images for “typing finger position” does not show a single result for the more comfortable finger layout.

It’s almost certainly a result of our left-to-right focus. That the left-most key column should be typed with the left-most finger, no exceptions. Much easier to teach to a class of unruly 10 year olds.

One interesting kink in this theory is that many European keyboards have an additional punctuation key to the left of [Z] (aka [Y], in QWERTZ). I’d be very interested to know if European touch-typists thus do type the key in the [Z] position with their ring finger.

Non-Staggered Layouts

Some specialized ergonomic keyboards actually correct for this issue. They’re called “non-staggered” key layouts. Each key column is completely vertical.

Staggered TypeMatrix keyboard layout.

The problem with these keyboards is that staggering is good… as long as it’s in the right direction.

A keyboard’s width is less than the width of your shoulders. So your arms will naturally be angled slightly inward when you put your fingers on the home row. The diagonal line of the U|J|M keys matches this angle perfectly.

Non-staggered layouts are better for the left hand. Unfortunately, in an effort to fix the broken typing angle for the left hand, they’ve eliminated the good staggering for the right hand.

I’ve yet to see a non-staggered layout that also tilts both sides of the layout inward, to match how your hands sit on the keyboard. This would be a great solution.

Try it. What do you think?

If you do have pain in your left hand, rather than buying an ergonomic keyboard, try readjusting your fingers slightly.

Follow the natural clasping motion of your left-hand fingers. Your ring finger curls down comfortably to [Z]. Use your middle finger for [X], and index for [C]. Stop awkwardly reaching “under” your hand to hit those bottom-row keys

Alternate touch-typing finger position layout.

I’d be very interested to hear if anyone else already uses this “offset” layout, or if anyone makes the switch.

Comments on Hacker News

{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

Clara May 7, 2012 at 7:55 am

Hello 🙂 I’m 13 this year, and I do use the method that you use, so I did feel a bit to trouble when I tried the free app 😛 well I guess this is mainly because I used a touch typing software when I was 8, and that forced me to use the right fingers for the right keys, and that software taught the method that you use… My typing speed is around 70 wpm, and i find the other layout really awkward. I don’t intend to change the way I type, anyway.
just for your information, this is the software.
http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/reviews/typing/3/jstype/merge.shtml

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Si Wei June 7, 2012 at 4:14 am

My thought exactly.

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jheartney July 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I’m teaching myself to touch type at a relatively old age (53), and I’m using Dvorak as it looks more comfortable, plus it eliminates the temptation to look at the keys. My typing tutor wants me to use the awkward fingering as in your first image above, which seems kind of crazy to me. I think I’ll try it your way instead.

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Peter July 7, 2012 at 7:12 am

I taught myself Dvorak after being a hunt-and-pecker for a long time as well. Naturally fell into this layout, from what I remember. It makes much more sense.

So I’d say do it, typing tutor be damned! If he had his way you’d be learning QWERTY anyway 🙂

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Lele August 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

Hello, I type this way and I agree that it makes a world of difference. How do you press the number row keys? My scheme is this:

left pinky: 1 2
left ring finger: 3
left middle finger: 4
left index finger: 5 6
right index: 7 8
right middle finger: 9
right ring finger: 0

To me, this feels as the less straining way. Actually, I have the number row sorted according to Classic Dvorak, that is 7531902468, so I translated my scheme to Qwerty.

Cheers.

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Lukas September 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Your touch typing technique is completely wrong. I guess that when you type Z, you leave your index finger on F key and twist your ring finger on Z. Nooooooo! I used to do that and now it makes me cringe only to think about it.

Dont glue your fingers to home row and don’t curl or twist individual fingers or your wrist. Instead move your whole hand – when you press Z key (with your little finger of course), your index finger should be hovering below V key.

Put your left index finger on V key and move it back and forth to 4 key. This is only movement your hand should be doing other than fingers banging keys when they are directly above them. After using this technique you should quickly feel that your fingers are hitting keys much more safely, in the center rather than on edge. And best of all, by freeing your hands from home row you will use keyboard shortcuts much more: for example I switch my programs in Windows 7 by hitting right windows key with ring finger and then keys 1-5. Feels gooood:-) It takes fraction of second compared to 2 seconds with mouse. I use mouse (actually trackpoint) basically just for selecting text.

Different keyboard grids and so called ergonomic keyboards are delusional gimmicks. Even wrist rests are wrong, your wrists should be in the air. World record holders are writing on regular keyboards.

Hope this helps to improve your and other people typing experience:-)

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CSDragon December 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Idk man, I type ~100 wpm and my fingers never leave the home row besides the one that’s typing. I also use this person’s method and ‘c’ is a very important letter to me as it’s my first initial, and I found curling my pointer finger in to be 10 times as comfortable as awkwardly crossing my middle and pointer finger as the middle drops down to the c.

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Zack October 10, 2012 at 8:54 pm

I agree with the original post’s author here – it’s much more comfortable to use the index, middle, and ring fingers for the C, X, and Z respectively. In fact, the chorded method (ASETNIOP) that I’ve developed is based around this idea.

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Bill November 6, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hooray, I have good news for all of you:
http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/advantage.htm

The positioning of the keys in the two separate hand wells of the Kinesis Advantage is EXACTLY what you describe. The rows are not staggered as in traditional keyboards, but notice that each row is raised up and inward quite naturally, with the pinkies given a special adjustment on the end. This is what you really meant when asking for a symmetric “stagger”, or you could think of it that way if you like.

It does come with extra features that you may not think you need (excellently productive thumb buttons, macros, hardware remapping, etc…) but in all my years obsessing about keyboards and text entry, I still think this one is the pinnacle of the commercially available and practical designs (for extended desktop use). This design has been around for years and is somewhat popular among programmers. Use it with whatever layout you want. This is an expensive keyboard, but if you have your hands on a keyboard near 8 hours a day it is worth it; you likely spend orders of magnitude more money on your car and you use it for an order of magnitude less time.

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Vinayak November 9, 2012 at 7:09 am

No matter what people say, I think Peter’s way is more comfortable.

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k2 November 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm

When I started typing, all I knew was “Put your index fingers on the keys with the raised dots, & just go with the flow.”
Two years & 70wpm later I found I was wrong! Tried to correct it but hell, who in his right minds would hit X with the ring finger?

Just go with the flow, guys.

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Venno January 9, 2013 at 10:00 am

So far I went with the flow. Now I got curios on how the real pros type. When I saw standard qwerty placement, I thought they are crazy and there has to be better way. And here it is. (Y)

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Kim January 22, 2013 at 12:03 pm

First of all the Qwerty keyboard was made to prevent the typingmachines to get jammed so it is not the optimal way of writing. The optimal way is the Dvorak version that was invented kinda too late. The Qwerty version was already well established around the world and as we all know it’s hard to break a habit…

Second of all if you are gonna use the “qwerty” version, you should use the version that feels the best. The “official way” feels so bad for my left hand.

I am currently learning the official “querty touch-method” and I am on the last lesson. In the beginning I noticed that the left hand wasnt following the natural line as my right hand does so I figured “there must be a reson for it. I’ll find out eventuelly if I just stick too it”. Now that I have finished the lessons and are trying to improve my speed it seems it’s just seems impossible cause of the unnatural placemet of the left fingers.

I tried to google and see if anyone had the same experience and then I find Peters blog. You pinpointed my exact problem so now I know I am not crazy. I will definetly use your way of writing when I use a Qwerty keyboard. It is bad enough that we have to use Qwerty in everyday life when there is an better alternative, but to also teach it in a way that messes up your left hand is just… wrong…

Eventuelly they will come up with a keyboard that has a button that can switch from “Dvorak” to “Qwerty” like the “numpad” button switches to numbers. Can’t wait for that day to come 😉

Cheers from a very thankful Norwegian. <3

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Ike January 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm

You can switch between QWERTY and DVORAK quite easily in Windows already. Go to the Language/Region section of your Control Panel and Change Keyboard. Add as many layouts as you like, including Dvorak for lefties or righties. You can rotate through each keyboard layout using Ctrl-Shift. Also makes for a fun April Fool joke if you can sneak onto your friend’s / colleague’s desktop long enough to set it up! K.pf ugbbf!!!

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Jamie June 16, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Dvorak might be better than Qwerty, but I don’t know if you can say that it’s optimal. The people who came up with the Colemak and Workman layouts definitely found a few problems with it (including the so called “right pinky syndrome”).

I’ve been using Colemak for nearly two years now, and it’s very convenient, as all the typical keyboard shortcuts are in the same place, whereas they’re all over the place with Dvorak.

Also, some (mechanical) keyboards nowadays do in fact have a switch (usually a dipper switch on the bottom) that allows you to switch between Qwerty/Dvorak/Colemak.

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Ulrich January 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

When I was in elementary they showed us how to type on qwerty with “proper hand positioning”, but I instead found my own way of typing. I use both of my hands for typing on either side and reach 95 wpm so far. Just takes time to get used to it. I usually have my first three fingers, starting with my index, on the WASD keys since I game a lot lol. I just said screw the dots on the j and f because they don’t mean a thing to me.

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George May 12, 2013 at 2:41 am

that’s what I used to do, and I was typing in the hundreds but then I tried to switch to the proper hand placement and I find that it increase my speed a lot
George

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Vatin March 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Keyboard with matrix layout will do you wonders, though it might be rear and expensive. I got myself a Kinesis Advantage and never look back. It is my daily driver and got rid of all the pains and stress despite all day use.

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George May 12, 2013 at 2:39 am

hello,
I am 14 and I find it hard to type with my little finger (pinkey)
any advice to help
Thanks
George

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Mallika June 4, 2013 at 7:18 am

I agree completely! Use what works best for you, everyone’s fingers are slightly different. My little fingers are very short so I don’t use it for e.g. ‘p’, and I use different fingers for each key if it makes it faster for some sequences that occur often when typing in English:

“nu” – index finger on n, middle on u.
“bu” – index finger on b, middle on u.
“po” – ring finger on p, middle on o.
“pi” – ring finger on p, middle on i.
“tr” – index finger on t, middle on r.

I can’t explain it well completely because it depends on the sequence of letters, but it’s just “use closest finger that reach and is not used”

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Joshua Issac February 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I just typed the short character sequences that you listed before looking at the method that you listed with them, and it turned out that I use the same fingers for every item on the list.

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Jordan June 8, 2013 at 4:28 am

This page is great. You just saved my wrists from the peer pressure of the widely taught touch typing standard. I tried the “correct” way for about 3 minutes before searching to see if someone else types the way I naturally do. I thank you and my less-arthritis-prone hands thank you.

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Peter June 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I’m glad it was helpful! Still very surprised that more people do not type this way.

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PAUL MCGINNIS July 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Would you please elaborate as to where you place your fingers for numbers? Thank you.

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Peter July 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I’m not a great numbers key touch typer myself… But I suppose it would be:

pink: 1
ring: 2, 3
middle: 4, (5)
index: (5), 6

index: 7, (8)
middle: (8), 9
ring: 0

Do whatever feels comfortable, with the goal of moving your fingers in a flowing “curl” motion rather than from side to side.

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Emily August 1, 2016 at 2:21 am

I am so happy to have found this software. I seldom type z or x so how I do it is immaterial. For numbers, I use the numbers keypad. How can I do numbers with the “mirror” method?

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Wesley Steinbrink July 10, 2013 at 2:40 am

I enjoyed your article because it mentioned the incorrect way the left hand is normally shown for the bottom keys. Since looking into the typical hand placement and checking out other alternate keyboards, I have decided to try a different hand placement (and include your recommendations here). The alternate hand position for the left hand “asdf” is the same as normal except for your recommendation, but the right hand position is at “uiop”. (This helps with reaching “6” without strain). It doesn’t stop there. Since my right hand is farther up, I can now use the right thumb to hit “n” and with movement to the left “m”. The shift for capitalization needs to be done exclusively from the left, but hasn’t been too big of a problem. I have been at it for less than a week and my speed is up at 20-28. (I was approaching 47 with regular qwerty). Would appreciate comments from those who would try it.

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Wesley Steinbrink July 10, 2013 at 2:41 am

Oops… with movement to the right, I can reach “m”.

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Wesley Steinbrink September 4, 2013 at 3:51 am

I find that I now am going with a new home position (qwer – uiop – v – n) – at least when I start – and then try to get back to it as much as possible. I am up to 40-46/47. I have learned not to use the left thumb for ‘c’ – too much rsi – and using the left thumb for ‘c’ leads to too much temptation to use it for ‘x’ – ouch. So other than that there have no few other problems. So yes, I do use the left index for ‘c’, the left middle for ‘x’ and the left ring for ‘z’ -thanks to Peter. This home position makes it easier to reach Esc, and Backspace, and programming keys of [ ] { } | etc – and of course the original problem – reaching 6. I don’t see going back.

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Stu July 20, 2013 at 2:18 am

I want to know why you have distorted the offset of the upper two rows of keys in your diagrams. The bottom two have an offset of ~48%, which is correct. The top two have an offset of only ~12%! Only 1/4 of what it should be. Your “beautiful key cascades on the left” would be pretty ugly if you had drawn the pictures correctly. In fact, the upper two are hardly offset at all and look a LOT like the TypeMatrix board that you disparage and discard without a proper examination.

The TypeMatrix 2030 in Dvorak layout is probably the best keyboard ever made.

What is your motivation for this lying deception that you are foisting on readers? Is it to enhance your own “reputation” and get more sales for your product?

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Peter July 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm

The top keys *are* offset far less than the bottom on any standard keyboard. My diagrams are pretty close to accurate.

You’re right, the top row isn’t perfect. However it’s a hell of a lot better than the bottom row. Some people might find the [ESZ] / [RDX] / [TFC] finger positioning more comfortable because of this. I do wish the left-hand top row formed a better cascade, like on the right side.

As I wrote in the article, I would love the TypeMatrix layout if each side of the keyboard were angled slightly. As it stands, I would need to bend my wrists at an uncomfortable angle to fit my fingers on the completely vertical columns. My forearms form a wide angle on my desk.

I wouldn’t be able to type on a TypeMatrix anyway, though. I type the Dvorak “;” (QWERTY “z”) key with my ring finger!

But, beyond all that, the purpose of this article isn’t to compare and contrast specialized hardware keyboard layouts. It’s for teaching an immediate ergonomic improvement that can be applied to any *standard* english QWERTY keyboard. Like it or not, that’s what the vast majority of people use.

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Dean January 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

The ‘Truly Ergonomic’ keyboard does exactly what you’re looking for, unfortunately the price is high.

https://www.trulyergonomic.com/store/index.php

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Wesley Steinbrink July 21, 2013 at 2:54 am

Stu,
I am looking at my Dell Inspiron laptop and it does have a much smaller offset of the upper two rows than between the middle and bottom row. The cascades to the left do not look entirely pretty, but they do work.
I am now using right thumb for “n” and “m” as well as left thumb for “v” and “b”. For “c”, “x”, and “z” I am using from this article most if not all the time.
Now up to 38-41 for speed. I usually just start with my left thumb on “v” and right thumb on “b”. Not too far fetched when you think of the TALQ keyboard and using all thumbs – do have to keep the wrists up though.

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Wesley Steinbrink July 21, 2013 at 2:56 am

Correction, right thumb on “n”

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Wesley Steinbrink July 21, 2013 at 2:59 am

Another correction… KALQ keyboard

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Theo July 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Hey.

Your finger placement is an improvement to the standard but it still seems unnatural to me. That’s because there’s still no symmetry. Our hands are symmetrical about the vertical axis so why is the standard finger placement designed as if we have two right hands?

This seems more natural to me: http://i.imgur.com/gLltGcp.png

“Y” and “B” can be typed by either index finger.

Is there a reason why this would be wrong?

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Peter July 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Yeah, I definitely agree you could do it that way. It comes down to personal preference; the offset on the top row isn’t nearly as bad as the [Z/X/C] area.

The reach from [D] to [R] is much more offset than the reach from the equivalent right-hand [K] to [I]. That’s, I think, why I instead do [D] to [E].

The distance between the center of the keys is closer, despite the movement being slightly in the wrong direction. I end up hitting the right side of the key, so it’s not actually so bad.

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Kaelin August 27, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hello,

I am in the same boat as you. I always thought that my ring finger should hit the Z key and so on. When I found out that I was “wrong” I just had to look it up. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who types like you. My fingers don’t naturally move the way you are “supposed to type”. I also have my hands angled out a little so they naturally circle up to the top keys. It makes the Y and B keys a little more difficult to hit, but in Colemak, they are J and B. I rarely ever reach for them. We are not alone in the way we type.

Q

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bryan September 10, 2013 at 9:25 am

sadddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddasssdsasdas

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mikaela September 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

you are so wrong that is total CRAP

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Peter September 16, 2013 at 11:14 pm

lol

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Fran Cotton September 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

Hi
I’m just learning to touch type. I tried Dvorak but I’ve gone back to Qwerty for two reasons – 1. because I’m looking for a job and I don’t want to be limited by that and 2. I operate the computer mainly using shortcuts rather than a pointing device and I found myself either having to keep swapping layouts or relearn them, as my hands won’t always be in home row position when using shortcuts.

Anyway, the point I wanted to raise is pinky placement. I find it awkward to place mine on a and ; so I am keeping them on ` and / instead. To me, typing a is a top row movement. The whole hand goes up and to the right in a nice diagonal, so the fingers reach a,e,r and t. This is my custom version of Healthy Typing which advocates keeping the hand in a relaxed position and moving the forearm itself to reach keys. Someone also mentioned something along these lines earlier in the thread.

Does anyone else drop the pinkies down a row?

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cousteau July 15, 2016 at 12:53 pm

If you went back to QWERTY because of keyboard shortcuts you may want to consider Colemak 🙂 It’s similar to Dvorak but it keeps the most common shortcut keys (Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, Ctrl-A) on the “right” position.

Also, re: lazy pinkies, I found this on a forum: http://i.imgur.com/oTgR4Kq.png – as you can see, whoever made that didn’t use the pinkies at all for the top row.

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palatica October 20, 2013 at 2:26 am

I rather to keep my little finger for typing Z, that’s enough for me, but I quite agree with you for typing C, because it seems to be awkward working with middle finger rather than index finger. But a lot of people are comfortably enough using the official way instead of your suggestion. The choice is yours.

But what about the numbers row? Many people feels that typing numbers and symbols were a little bit difficult, and typing number ‘6’ are still become a question which finger is correct, left index finger or right index finger? Some ergonomic keyboards which split the buttons in two sides becoming consideration about positioning key number 6. Some manufacturers put it in the left side along with keys 1 to 5 because of hardware design matters – putting number 6 on the left becoming equal to both sides since the right side have 6 keys such as 7 to 0 (zero), hyphen and equal signs. But some are put it in the right side according to the keyboarding technique. This is still becoming a question.

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Wesley Steinbrink October 23, 2013 at 4:22 am

For the number keys I prefer to type 6 with my right index finger. There is another alternate home position that is shown at http://typingsoft.com/typing.htm that shows that Alexey Kazantsev uses the left index finger for typing 6. It is the most difficult one to type unless you choose the upper row as the home row. I find it also hard to type 0 and – unless I type them with my right ring finger. A unique way of typing ( ), [ ], and { } is to type them both, then arrow back so that the closing is not lost – mostly for programmers. One programmer said that he used his right ring and right pinky for these enclosing symbols.

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Wesley Steinbrink October 23, 2013 at 5:05 am

Note that Alexey Kazantsev mentioned above – uses a similar left sweep to the left lower keys in his alternate home position – similar to what is advocated here.

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samsher October 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm

nothing has happened to may hand but like your idea, i am going to follow it. thanks.

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Noah January 1, 2014 at 5:39 am

Hmmmm, I taught myself to touch type using typerace.com

I never took any classes or did any software (I’m only 17 by the way) so I never learned what keys are supposed to be hit with each finger. I just went with what was comfortable. Well, I type around 120 wpm now, and I found that I actually hit “x”.

I don’t really use my right ring finger for anything. I use my pinky for z and my middle finger for x.

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Kawaii Loli January 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Just wanted to say that people shouldn’t worry too much about sticking strictly to the suggested finger placement. Do whatever is most comfortable for you.

I type at 170+ wpm (much faster than everyone else I know) and I don’t even use my pinkies for anything other than left-shift, left-ctrl and enter.

Never used any learning software or anything either. I just type a lot on skype, forums and in multiplayer games.

Might also add that I was using a crappy 5 dollar keyboard for this so those probably don’t matter much either.

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Jarek April 8, 2014 at 8:19 am

Then you are as fast as Barbara Blackburn ;D give me a break with those 170 WPM.

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Aaron January 29, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I am 15 years old and have always had to search for letters. I am doing an online course to learn to type faster. The problem in that my hands have unusually long ring fingers and very short pinky fingers. I cannot physically reach the “p” key with my pinky. I googled “is it normal that i use my ring finger to type p”. That brought me hear and this is exactly how i do it! (other than the “p”).

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Seb April 27, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I totally agree that curling the fingers on the left hand down, as you do on the right makes more sense. My GF is just learning to 10finger type and I was really surprised to look at the official layouts. I’ve not thought about it for a really long time.

I just noticed that I do use my little finger to press the z key, which I wasn’t aware of either. Crazy.

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Jorgen July 30, 2014 at 12:48 am

I became interested in refreshing my touch typing recently and I discovered when doing some tutorial drills that my fingers were doing the “wrong” things, according to the instructions. This was driving me absolutely mental, as the recommendations were completely unergonomic.

My hands rest at my mechanical keyboard in an inverted V shape, as I have this thing called a body between my arms, and it goes against all logic that the left fingers should follow the patterns of the right. I mean you wouldn’t hit ‘m’ with your middle finger, so why use it to hit ‘c’??

Thanks very much for posting this article, which has effectively restored my sanity.

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Ben-Healthydeviceuse.com August 17, 2014 at 10:23 am

Hi Peter,

Good article – I particularly like the visualisations that you use for delineating people’s natural movement patterns. Unfortunately I think that the QWERTY layout is now so ingrained in popular perceptions it would be very difficult to encourage people to use systems like Dvorak or other potentially less stressing keyboard layouts.

I try to use dictation software for text based manipulation as much as I can now, although I appreciate this obviously isn’t an option for everyone.

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rea September 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm

this article was about the letters and pinky, but i have a problem here. i would like you to help me with it. i recently started to learn to type in the qwerty manner, all this while i typed looking down at the keyboard with random fingers. so now i have this problem pressing the backspace key – i find it really difficult to take my finger all over there, and when i do, i misplace the position of my hands. i dont understand how others manage to type. i hope this is solved, and thank you fo reading. 🙂

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Henrique S. October 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I was searching for something like “What the hell I do with my left thumb?” as it was kinda annoying me the movements. I noticed the weird movement that the “c” was making but I thought it was because of the left little finger didn’t fly off the baord like the right one. I found this website I tried and I must say that feels natural your method method. I am learning on keybr.com so I actually have data. i was thinking that the c wouldn’t get much better but now i trust that it will grow. My speed is still slow but I am learning to touch type. The red zone was when I changed to the index finger.

http://tinypic.com/r/wi6b5t/8

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Henrique S. October 16, 2014 at 9:49 pm
roise0r October 24, 2014 at 7:46 pm

In order to be a fast typist, what’s more important than always hitting keys with the right fingers, is to type consecutive letters with the least movement and comfortably. I also think it’s important to be able to type combos efficiently. Typing fast is not about how fast can you hit a key, but how many words per unit time can you output as a whole, thus WPM. A crucial part in being really fast is to anticipate the position of the fingers one or two keystrokes in advance. It’s ok (and preferable) to press ‘c’ with your index finger when your next letter is ‘d’ and use the middle finger if your next letter is ‘g’. Also you might find that some of the keys that we’re supposed to press with right pinky are more confortable pressed with the ring finger if the following key gets the pinky. Like hitting backspace with ring while following ‘enter’ with pinky.

A few more examples:
– press backspace with ring finger in general (requieres just pivoting of your palm instead of slightly raising the whole palm, especially for those with short pinkies and if palm is resting infront of the keyboard and not hovering over it). Use the pinky if the next letter you are about to write is one of the far-reach ‘y’ ‘h’ ‘7’ etc.
– press ‘b’ with left index if next key is any of ‘yuhjnm’, but press with right index if it’s any of ‘gtrfv’
– press ‘m’ with right middle if next key is any of the ‘yhn’
– press ‘(‘ and ‘)’ with right middle and ring, but use only pinky for ‘[‘ and ‘]’
– On the shift key: I think the left shift is more valuable than the right (for right-handed), because of the fact that we use the mouse a lot while we are typing smth small and in caps. That said, when just typing (no mouse) using right shift for caping left handed letters is faster.

A while ago, when I was just starting out the adventure of learning to touch type I wrote this little program that given a corpus of text, will output a histogram of each letter and what is the frequency of any other letter occurring after it in order to come up with the ultimate (dynamic, I might add) finger placement configuration! Now I think it’s a waste of time to try and find every possible combination of keystrokes out there and try to figure out the optimal way of pressing keys based on each one. While learning, in the beginning might be better idea to focus on strictly leaning the official layout and start modifying according to what’s confortable to you once every keystroke you make comes out naturally from muscle memory. This will force you to break habits a few times, which might sound like a bad idea, but actually is good for your brain. (google the tons of research on this)

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Joppe v B November 25, 2014 at 6:30 am

I’m so glad I found this page. After typing with 2-4 fingers for 30 years or so I decided to learn the 10-finger system. The ZXC seemed very akward to me. This alternative placement seems very logical to me. One question though: the [b] is purple in your layout, but what does that mean? Which finger strokes the [b]?

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Peter December 4, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Personally I use my left finger to press [B], but that’s just the way I learned and what now feels natural. You can use either finger.

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Crystalclaw December 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Never liked typing class, but after a summer of coding and googling a few years back, I taught myself to type. I never realized it, but I naturally type like that; never realized it wasn’t normal. Maybe that’s why I hated typing…?

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Vicky December 8, 2014 at 3:51 am

For reference, my WPM is consistently 90-110 on QWERTY (according to typeracer) and I’m completely self-taught (I never even knew about typing “standards” until fairly recently) having started using a keyboard regularly in 2007. I’ve used capslock instead of shift for years because it feels more natural, and pretty much never use my left shift key. I’m also left-handed.

http://i.imgur.com/sLHAHfR.png is my layout, with the same colour scheme as yours except purple is right thumb instead of left, and right index is a different hue; some keys have multiple colours because I use different fingers depending on the context of the motion (EG, starting with the key or hitting a key near it will often be different than mid-stream typing).. Even then, it’s not complete because I’m not actually that familiar with my own finger placement (it’s all reflexive) and I can’t think of all contexts to list. The biggest thing to note is that I use my left index a LOT, sometimes even bleeding over into the right of the board.

I’d love to know if anyone else has a layout so far removed from the standard, so I don’t feel quite so lonely with it >_>

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bobby February 20, 2015 at 7:24 am

hi

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Paul Streitz March 14, 2015 at 7:48 pm

If you want a sample. Let me know. Not sold on Amazon any more.
It is intuitive. Organized the letters in better way.
Paul Streitz

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Centzon April 24, 2015 at 8:01 am

Dead on! This is exactly the way I type with the left hand. The only real differences you and I have with the right hand is that I more often than not use right-ring for p and for /? An adaptation to my needing to use so many special characters in my day job…. and that’s pinky-space!

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Jana May 7, 2015 at 2:59 am

Hi Peter,
thank you so much for this article! I’ve just started learning touch-typing and I actually noticed the assymetry of the keyboard/finger positions. I went with the classic lessons not knowing anything else, even though my left hand felt uncomfortable when reaching for Z, X, C. Now I’ve tried the idea and as I had previously injured ligaments in my left hand I can instantly feel how much more natural the moves are. It’s brilliant. So thank you again, I think you have just saved me from future possible injuries or at least a big discomfort.

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Tanja June 22, 2015 at 8:25 am

Man, you should keep your hand in right way and not make a theory. I am blind typist for 20 years and more, and if I would type your way I would have wrist pain, and brain damage.

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nosirrah July 5, 2015 at 4:13 am

Hi, I never learned to touch type – couldn’t get the hang of the independent hands. Now in retirement I am wanting to develop the skill. Looking for a finger template I googled up your site. It just seems so logical I don’t understand why it isn’t the standard. In a way it is the equivalent of a simplified golf swing. The less things to concentrate on the quicker and easier learning is. Thank you for posting.

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Kenneth August 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Also check out this recommendation which is similar:
http://kennetchaz.github.io/symmetric-typing/index.html

Includes alternative layouts based on that typing system.

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mike September 10, 2015 at 6:29 am

are you left handed by any chance?

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bhupendra September 15, 2015 at 11:26 am

where are the comments?

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【激安市場】コーチ COACH★レビューを書くと送料無料!財布(二つ折り財布) October 3, 2015 at 3:17 am

。これで、フォロワーを持っています。乾杯、メイト!

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bob October 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm

u need to name the colors to a finger…just saying

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Ed November 4, 2015 at 8:14 am

This page alone is more valuable than many complete typing courses that teach the awkward method.

Have you not found a keyboard with the right staggering/angling yet?

Thank you!

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Kate Lebaron November 12, 2015 at 11:26 pm

This is great! Thanks!

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majk November 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

I can’t see any comments

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rbkpro December 20, 2015 at 9:39 am

Totally agree 😀

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fhkjfasdhfjkdsl@yahoo.com December 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

where the fuck are all the comments

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Robin December 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm

I fully agree with you there. I have dispraxia a developmental coordination disorder, which causes me to have a poor motion in physical movements especially in my fingers. I tried blind typing for years and always gave up on it because i simply couldn’t manage how uncomfortable it felt when typing in such way and it caused a lot of finger fatigue and I always thought I would need a professional to work on my posture and the placement of my fingers on the keyboard and then it struck me one day. Every time when I restarted trying it after some months I always came to be stuck in the last lessons when I had to type the z x and c, those 3 letters always gave me a super hard time. Often when I managed to hit them in an awkward position I felt my hands where totally out of position and I started to hit every key in sequence wrong, even if my hands didn’t move the wrong way I managed to do this by tapping half of the c key, since that one gave me the most difficulty. When I only tapped half of the c key my hands on the base keys never got out of place but this felt extremely uncomfortable and hitting a mix with several c’s would cause me extreme pain and eventually i would get out of place not knowing which key to hit. I ALWAYS gave up on blind typing, every time, with this specific lesson. If you look at the position of your hands they naturally face each other outwards, while making outwards key strokes on the bottom line with right you always make inward key strokes with the left hand on the bottom line. Which makes no sense that why both hands would prefer a different configuration. There has to be symmetry when you type so one must be wrong and when trying it out you always feel the left one feels wrong. Most people who start learning blind typing often chose to type the bottom left keys in the configuration you mentioned and not how it should be done and then they are retaught to do it differently. I just think this universally accepted thing is plainly wrong. Either they reinvent the keyboard keys position or they should reteach people how to type blindly. I looked everywhere trying to find something about this problem I face and I’m glad to see that there is someone out there thinking the same as I do. Please send me an email back I would appreciate it a lot.

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marcelo December 30, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Excelent. I found your article seaching for how mad i am writing as you propose.
Mother nature complitly agree with you !

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jhh January 17, 2016 at 7:36 am

hhj

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Makis January 17, 2016 at 8:33 pm

I started typing recently. It inherently felt natural to do things your way. When I tried to use the ‘classical’ finger position, my hand started to ache. Nevermind, even great rock guitarists don’t use the classical finger position!

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Ray January 18, 2016 at 8:34 am

I’ve been typing like this since 7th grade, when I took a keyboarding class in school. I thought this was the standard method until today when my girlfriend told me she uses her pinky for qaz, mind blowing.

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Matt January 30, 2016 at 11:43 am

As it turns out, I have been doing the same thing all these years without realizing that it was wrong either. I guess I just never thought about it until now…

I actually tried typing the normal way just now, and I agree that it feels award and somewhat painful to contort the fingers on my left hand in order to hit the bottom row keys like that. Guess I will stick to what I’ve already been doing.

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Cenon Manansala February 3, 2016 at 10:03 pm

I truly agree with your statement, I was pretty much self taught and have always typed with my index finger hitting the letter “C” key. I find it to be more comfortable than reaching under my index finger for the letter “C” key with my middle finger. I’m glad I’m not the only one lol

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Bobby February 14, 2016 at 6:10 am

I already type like this :}

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Maurice March 12, 2016 at 8:19 pm

Hi,

Thank you for this article, especially for the diagrams. I’m using the Workman layout on a non-staggered, curved keyboard. It solved my wrist problems I had when approaching my 40s.

But my QWERTY skills are getting less, so I’m now trying to do Workman on a staggered keyboard too. I got into problems with the bottom left row too. The “offset” grip feels like the correct way. Looking back, on QWERTY I used the “offset” way already unknowingly.

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nine of your business March 22, 2016 at 6:55 pm

u did not help at all u dont know what ur doin so jus stop

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Laurence March 30, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Thank you for this post. I’m taking the ratatype lessons, so this will help me to practice from the start with this fingers positions.

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Mike April 3, 2016 at 6:56 pm

I know this is a few years old but I just started taking typing classes and was baffled by the standard placement. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for the article!

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Shannon Myers April 7, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I am glad to have come across this article. I use http://www.keybr.com/ to practice typing(Because, usually I need to look at the keyboard), and I came across the ‘C’ key in one of my lessons, and using the correct way, with the middle finger, was a pain and very uncomfortable. However, now i can utilize my index for the ‘C’ key as it is easier and less of a pain. Thanks!

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green angelica cabang surabaya April 30, 2016 at 7:35 am

Yes! Finally something about google.

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David Wood May 23, 2016 at 1:45 am

I type similarly to you, but with some quirks. Because I never learned to type properly, and because I learned on a European keyboard, I basically only use my left pinky finger for the shift key. This solves the z problem, but requires a little more hand movement. However I can type a very high speed with this system.

As of a year ago, I use a Kinesis Advantage keyboard. Although this has the straight (not staggered) keys, it partially solves the hand curvature problem by making the keys tilted into hollows that fit the hand, and by being a split keyboard. (You’ll have to see the keyboard to understand what I mean.)

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cousteau July 15, 2016 at 9:53 am

I found this site because I google image searched “dvorak finger position” as you did. You may be glad to know that this was the third result 🙂

A few thoughts I share with you:
– The “standard” finger placement is optimized for people with two right hands. This is, all typing tutorials in the world are WRONG! (at least for people who happen to have one hand on each side of their body, as is my case.)
– The correct position is with both hands slightly bent inwards (see the TrulyErgonomic keyboard and its claims on how it’s healthier), not one bent inwards and the other bent outwards.
– People should be taught to type so that the fingers on the left hand go the OPPOSITE diagonal (/). I think this also applies to the QWERTY row, so that the left middle finger goes 5RDX, not 4EDX as in your image.

I remember having seen an image with a Dvorak keyboard suggesting this “left hand goes /” idea; however I just read the patent for the Dvorak layout and it describes the classic and impractical \+\ finger position.

I’m trying to teach myself the 5RDX way because I believe it may save me a lot of pain and also a lot of money a TrulyEergonomic keyboard would cost :). I’ve found that turning the keyboard 4° left to make both diagonals more symmetric helps.

On a side note, I have the habit of putting my mouse below the keyboard rather than to its right, so that I don’t have to make my arm jump all the numpad abyss whenever I want to point and click; plus this saves a lot of sideways space on my usually messy desk.

PS: typing the “des” in “desk” sucks with both positions.

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Why? what's the point? August 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm

I started typing this way, but now both my hands float around the keyboard and i use all 4 fingers of both to hit the keys required to type what i’m trying to put on the screen. this whole home row nonsense is good to learn where the keys are without looking etc, but once you are comfortable there is no reason… just let your hands roam free and watch your WPM increase drastically.

I type 120-140 WPM and still improving. Ditching the home row alone increased my WPM from 80-90 to what it is at today. It’s a good tool when learning how to type but by no means is it the most efficient. Get comfortable and let your hands go where they please. You will always be more efficient when you’re not forcing yourself to do things in a way that isn’t comfortable for you to do.

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Sounds like bad advice November 17, 2016 at 8:21 am

As a guy who played a lot of computer games and started out with some very poor typing habits, I find this “improved” layout harmful. Considering that the author of this actually struggled with RSI only reinforces my suspicions.

What I realized when analyzing the way I type is that the faster I do it (100+ WPM), the more combinations of letters are involved that force strain on my
tendons. I’m talking about words like “east”; the fastest way to type that out would be to of course glue your fingers to each key to press them all at once, and boom – suddenly your fingers are awkwardly cramped together. Repeat that 50 times and your hand isn’t going to feel pleasant at all, let alone after a whole hour of typing.

The important thing about home row is that it teaches you to have your fingers relaxed at all times because you’re moving your whole hand to a different row for every letter from that row. However, with ring/middle/index fingers on ZXC keys, it feels natural to not do that, and that introduces bad habits and unnecessary strain with all the other rows. For me personally, home row has been a big improvement over what I was doing before (which was similar to Peter’s layout), and although I don’t type professionally, doing what’s been tried and tested by the majority seems like the smart thing to do.

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