Daily Archives: September 20, 2008

The National Typing League

The National Typing League


Kenneth Burchfiel

An Overview of the National Typing League

I: Typing Teams

A: Each team will be made up of no less than five competing typists.

B: Each teammate will be seeded against the other members of that team based on their typing ability.

II: Beginning typing competitions

A: Competitions will be held in a location accepted on by both teams.

B: The competition location must be suitable for a typing contest, meaning:

.    1. The location must include a sufficient number of computers and keyboards for each team.

2. The location must be free of auditory and visible distractions.

3. The owners of the location must be willing to comply with the requests of each team.

4. Internet connections must be available to register results.

5: The location must be large enough to accommodate all team members, staff and equipment.

C: Before the competition begins, there will be a twenty-minute period for set up and warmup. Teams may use this time as they please.

D: The coaches, or captains (if no coaches are present) will meet and decide on the following matters:

  1. If the teams have an unequal amount of players, the coaches must decide if they wish to have more than five seeded matches. There may be up to 11 seeded matches.
  2. What order they wish to have matches. If resources permit, all matches may take place at the same time; if time permits, each match may take place separately.
  3. How to manage technological problems.
  4. Where and when to schedule future matches, if desired.

E: The coaches will then greet the match organizer.

E: After meeting, the coaches and captains will then address their team members. The contests then begin.

III: The Typing Competition

A: Both players in a match will greet one another before beginning.

B: Each player will be given a keyboard and a computer. They may request headphones, but only for noise reduction purposes.

C: The match will be officially begun by the match organizer. He will start each match by:

  1. Revealing the text that each player will be typed.
    1. If one player is given the opportunity to see this text beforehand, a different text will be chosen.
    2. Both players will use the same text, but on different computers.
    3. Unless more technology exists and is agreed on by both coaches or captains, the text will assume the form of one or more sheets of paper arranged to the left (first and second pages) and right (additional pages) of the computer.
    4. The text must be legible, and the font must be agreed upon by both coaches.
  2. Beginning the match timer.
    1. Match contests will last three minutes.
    2. Players are required to stop typing at the sound of the timer’s whistle.
    3. The technology available will influence exactly how the match is timed. The game clock will operate by computer if possible; or, the organizer may use a manual timer.

D: During the course of the match, the players will attempt to type the words featured on the pages of text as quickly and as accurately as possible.

  1. Words may not be skipped in the course of the contest. Skipped concept will be counted as mistyped content.
  2. Players are not to distract each other verbally or physically during the course of the concept. Doing so will result in an automatic disqualification.
  3. The word processor that each player will use must:
    1. Have all copying and pasting features disabled.
    2. Must have spell checking or grammar checking software disabled.
    3. Must allow manual (by mouse or keyboard) editing only.

IV: Scoring Individual Matches

A: At the end of the match, both players’ typing will be categorized as correctly spelled and misspelled words.

  1. Only words that match the words on the text page in terms of capitalization, punctuation, spacing and spelling and in the order that they appear on the page will be considered correct words.
  2. Misspelled words will be counted (surprise!) as misspelled words.
  3. Words that lack proper capitalization, or words that feature capitalization in the improper spots, will be considered misspelled.
  4. Words that are skipped on the page will be counted as misspelled.
  5. If a word is typed more than once, the word will count the first time it is written, then be considered misspelled for all consecutive appearances.
  6. Words written that are not seen on the page or pages of text will be counted as misspelled.
  7. Words that cannot be finished by the termination of the test will not be factored into the final score.
  8. Extra spaces between words will make the word preceding them count as misspelled.
  9. Mispunctuated words will count as misspelled.

B: The scoring method is known as “divide, then multiply,” or DTM.

  1. To tabulate the final score, the number of correctly spelled words will be divided by the sum of all correctly spelled and misspelled words. This quotient will then be multiplied by the sum of all correctly spelled words. This product will be rounded up to the nearest integer, and will then count as the final score.
    1. Multiplying the number of correct words typed by the percentage of correct words typed out of all correctly and incorrectly spelled words serves as a means to reward accuracy and deter typists who might otherwise seek to type as fast as possible without any regard for misspelled words.
    2. For example, take the sentence “A dog jumped into a briar patch, but jumped out fairly quickly after that.” A typist who wrote “A dog jumped into a briar patch” in ten seconds would receive a score of seven (7 x 7/7). One who wrote “A dog woked ito a brire patch, but jumped ot fairly quickly affer that” in ten seconds would have written nine correct words in that span of time, but—given the extra time needed to correct his misspellings—he did a worse job than a blind “total correct words” score would reveal. Thus, the DTM system takes his nine words and multiplies them by 9/14 (his correctly spelled words divided by all correctly and incorrectly spelled words), giving him a final score of 6 (considering that scores are rounded up.) In this way, accuracy becomes as important to typing competitors as it would in the real world.

V: Scoring matches as a whole

  1. Each match won counts as a +1 for a team; each match lost counts as +0.
  2. Ties will count as 0.5 for each teams.
  3. If a match could not be finished for a reason out of either team’s control, it will count as +0 for both teams.
  4. Final scores, therefore, will be tabulated an A-B format, with A counting as one team’s points and B counting as the other’s.

VI: Extraneous situations

  1. In case of a situation beyond the teams’ control, any of the above may be amended with the consent of both coaches or captains.

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A quick guide to quick typing

A quick guide to quick typing


Kenneth Burchfiel


Throughout our lives, we receive plenty of education on what to type. It is the question of how to type that does not get enough attention.

One could make the argument that how fast one writes does not make much of a difference. After all, if it takes someone an hour just to write a thousand-word paper (an average rate of fourteen to fifteen words a minute), their actual typing ability does not factor into the equation—seeing as they could easily match that typing rate with a pencil.

This argument, however, makes the pretense that typists go at the same rate for hours on end; in truth, writing is better modeled as a series of pauses punctuated by moments of intense—sometimes furious—typing. It’s those moments of fury that require one to be proficient in typing, lest a great thought or a chain of ideas for a paragraph slip away.


I invite anyone reading this to look at the keys below their fingers—should they be near a computer. If the top row of keys reads “QWERTYUIOP,” they’ve got a problem they might not even know about.

The QWERTY layout was developed more than a century ago for typewriter models. With all due respect to the inventor, Christopher Sholes’ layout has since become outdated. It puts some of the most-used keys—E, R, T, I and O—on the top row, meaning the hand must travel an uncomfortable distance to type even the most basic words. Simultaneously, it puts rarely-used letters like “K” and “J” on the middle row where they do not belong. QWERTY keyboard users use the top row, which requires hand travel, much more than they do the “home” or middle row.

At first, this may seem like an unimportant issue. But the more one must move their fingers up and down to type, the more strain they put on the fingers—and the less potential they have when it comes to speed typing.

With all this in mind, I recommend that anyone serious about typing quickly change the layout of their keyboard. (This is the point at which most will stop reading.) Going from QWERTY to a more ergonomic layout, in fact, is easier done than said. Windows and Apple computers both feature alternate layout compatibility, and rearranging the keys is as simple as popping the letters out with a knife and moving them around.

For about three years, I’ve used the “Dvorak” keyboard layout. Switching was as simple as taking a utensil and manually rearranging the keys, then going to the Windows control panel and changing the key layout. Since then, I’ve never looked back. At school, I can use online converters to type quickly; at home, with my keyboard configured for Dvorak typing, I can reach speeds of 100 WPM in regular typing—and 120 or above in typing tests. Best of all, I’ve rarely felt hand or wrist pain from typing at extended lengths.

Dvorak is the leading rival to QWERTY, but users looking to break the mold even further can try out the COLEMAK layout. This one is technically superior to Dvorak, but the achievement gap between the two is miniscule compared to the gap between QWERTY and either.


But neither the COLEMAK or Dvorak layout will make a hint of difference unless one learns to “touch type,” or memorize the key layout so that one need not look at the board while typing. With all due respect to the mathematicians of this world, I consider my ability in this field much more important than my skills in trigonometry or calculus.

There are more typing programs than there are sushi bars in Tokyo, but all of them are, more or less, the same: by starting with the most frequently used keys and extending outward, they teach users—letter by letter—to memorize the board. Some programs have elaborate tracking systems, incorporated games and voice narrators. Others, like the 1995 HTML program I used to learn Dvorak, are East German in their appearance but do just as fine a job.

The specific program one chooses, in the end, does not make a difference. What matters is that they use that program to its fullest potential and emerge with the ability to type while looking at the screen.


These two measures get one 85 percent of the way to their full typing potential. This final step can be eschewed if one is satisfied with their current keyboard, but important nonetheless.

Most keyboards—and most cars—perform more or less the same at slow speeds. The plastic keyboard that came from your computer and the steel-frame, mechanical-switch, ergonomic-everything product you can buy online will each feel about the same at 30 or 40 words a minute. But for typists capable of hitting 80 WPM or above, the specific keyboard one users begins to make a difference in their final score.

Keyboard styles can be separated by two main categories: keyswitch technology and physical key arrangement. By far, the majority of keyboards use rubber domes to pop depressed keys back up and feature three straight rows of letters. This setup works fine for infrequent typists with a WPM score in the 30-60 range.

A plethora of keyswitch alternatives exist on the market. Take “Buckling Spring” boards, for example. These keyboards use actual springs to recoil keys to their original position. Because springs do their job much quicker than standard rubber domes, the keyboard is more responsive and less susceptible to “mushy” typing, in which one’s fingers sink into the keys and have trouble getting back up. Mechanical boards register strokes using actual switches, not just the wire membrane technology found in most buckling spring and regular keyboards.

Both of these technologies result in faster typing for two reasons: the keys are more responsive to finger input, and the “click” sound resulting from springs and switches helps the typist recognize when they’ve depressed a key. These are just two popular alternatives out of dozens.

My personal keyboard is standard in terms of letter arrangement; like most devices, it has the letters and numbers in four parallel rows. For typists interested in a more ergonomic (and faster, perhaps) experience, there are a number of keyboards available with a V-shaped layout; the letter rows, split in the middle and curved inward, better match the natural hand position of typists. This theme has plenty of variations (search for “vertical keyboard” for an especially wild one), but all serve to make the typing experience more intuitive and easier on the fingers.


This guide is but an introduction to the world of speed typing, but it covers most of the steps interested typists should take to write faster. As for writing better… well, that’s a separate matter.

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