Skip to main content

What is a Good Typing Speed?

Finding a place where you type comfortably and accurately is the most important aspect of typing speed   it's really up to you. You may be a hunt-and-peck typist who types slowly but maintains error-free copy, or you may be a fast touch-typist who leans heavily on a spell-checker to dust up all your errors. Knowing your typing speed is important if you're looking for a job that involves a lot of typing, and there are many typing software programs that can help you improve your speed and accuracy.

How Typing is Measured

Most of us are familiar with the words per minute (wpm) measure of typing speed. This measurement averages words at five characters and ranks your speed on that scale. However, some words are longer or more difficult to type, and wpm isn't always the most accurate way to measure typing, so the rate of characters per minute (cpm) is also used to measure typing speed.

The National Average

The fastest typing in the English language was recorded in 1946 on an IBM electric typewriter by Stella Pajunas, who had a peak speed of 216 wpm. Michael Shestov, however, holds the Guinness World Record for typing 800 numbers in a five-minute period, error free.

Not many of us can reach that kind of speed and dexterity. In fact, the national average for typing on a typical keyboard is 37 to 44 wpm, or 150 to 200 cpm. Most of us also make about eight typos for every 100 words we manage to tap out, but that still would put you in the 90th percentile.

Typists for Hire

Clearly, those who type for a living maintain typing speeds that increase with practice and time. If you are looking for a job as a secretary, you'll want to be able to test at about 50 to 80 wpm, or 250 to 400 cpm, with a good degree of accuracy. However, if you work in a position where accuracy and speed counts   for example, as a dispatcher or typing captions for news   you will need to show that you can type 80 to 95 wpm, or 400 to 475 cpm.

Keyboards Count

QWERTY keyboards are the most commonly used, so when you hear about typing speed, it's normally on a QWERTY. However, other keyboards encourage faster typing, such as the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, on which some typists can achieve 150 to 170 wpm.

Research suggests that the earlier you start typing on keyboards of any kind, the more dexterity you develop in your fingers. Playing piano is a particularly good way to develop dexterity, as well as an appreciation for keyboards. Children these days are exposed to keyboards at a much earlier age, so it's important to help them establish typing skills earlier on.

The Final Count

In the end, a good typing speed is one that allows you to type comfortably while making the fewest errors, because fewer errors means you spend less time overall editing your results and apologizing for mistakes if you forget to spell check.