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I use a QWERTY and I can type faster than I can think. I can routinely type at 130 WPM and at bursts up to 140 WPM. But I didn't type this comment that fast, not even close. I think much more slowly than I type. Point being, I can already type far faster than I need to on QWERTY, so why bother switching to something else, where I will almost certainly be slower for a period of months at best?

Personally I think speed is generally overrated for the reasons you mention, if you type at around 100WPM you probably won't be significantly limited by your fingers for any practical task. For me it's more about comfort, I switched to a better keyboard and the Dvorak layout because I started to have wrist pain. I don't know if dvorak is all that superior to qwerty but it gave me an opportunity to completely re-learn how to type since very few keys line up, and this time I tried to learn proper hand and finger placement etc...

It really depends on what you're using your typing skills for.

If you're trying to record verbatim what someone is saying, you could easily have to type much, much faster than that.

Stenographers are often required to type at least a hundred WPM faster than you type, and some people speak even faster than that. The demands are even higher when more than one person is talking at the same time and you're trying to record them both.

There are some tricks one could use to speed up plain old QWERTY, however. In particular, you could use macros. That's essentially what stenographers use on their special steno keyboards. A single chord will translate in to a full sentence. Likewise, you could trigger a macro on a QWERTY keyboard with a single chord and that can boost your WPM significantly, if you use a lot of them.

Recording verbatim conversation is a pretty rare typing use case I would say. Court reporters use steno machines for that, no non-chorded layout is fast enough.

The vast majority of people are typing up some sort of copy or code, both of which are limited by thinking speed if you're anywhere above 80wpm or so.

Even writing a relatively casual e-mail I find myself limited by thought speed rather than typing. I can type a sustained 120-150wpm but frankly it's mostly a party trick, I don't think it makes me any more productive than someone typing 60-80wpm.

People do not speak at 230 wpm. Ever. It does not happen.

Edit: I stand by this. Auctioneers do provide a good counter example but much of what they say is just repeated phrases.

Why do you say that? As a stenographer, it absolutely happens: I know because when I try to write along to some people, my words per minute meter goes above 230 occasionally. (It would go above 230 wpm more than "occasionally" except that I'm not that fast yet.)

Here's an example of a professional stenographer dealing with 300+ wpm days (search "300wpm" in this page): https://jadeluxe.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-career-201...

> People do not speak at 230 wpm. Ever. It does not happen.

Yes they do. 230 wpm is close to the upper limit for natural speech, but bursts of speech at that rate are quite common if the speaker is in a heightened emotional state or they are trying to convey a lot of information quickly.

Research into subtitling (closed captioning) by the BBC and OFCOM found that live programmes normally have bursts of speech at over 200 wpm. The BBC article below includes a sample clip of a presenter reading a news report at 230 wpm; while it sounds rushed and the presenter occasionally stumbles over a word, it does not sound completely unnatural.




Average speaker is 150, an auctioneer is 250-400, the fastest person. The fastest talkers male and female can recite over 500,600 words per minute.

People can certainly and some people while exited/upset may.

This also probably varies greatly by language.

Someone speaking a language like Chinese, where most of the words are single syllables, could probably speak a lot faster than someone speaking, say, German, where the words are often super long.

That's just my mostly uneducated guess, though. It'd be interesting to see some real-world comparisons of this.

I don't have a source for this, but at some point I read a paper which indicated that for languages with a lower information density per syllable, people speak faster, and vice versa, so on average all humans communicate the same amount of information per second.

I've somewhat noticed the same thing with just regional accents of english. The faster the accent, the more "filler" the speech contains.

> 500,600 words per minute

I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6, but 500,600 reads to me as 500600. Maybe | is a good unambiguous character to use for "or".

Dashes are customarily used for ranges. 500-600 wpm; 35-75 Kph; 2-3 grams. While a / can be used for words "and/or", using it with numbers leads to confusion with fractions: 2/3.

> While a / can be used for words "and/or", using it with numbers leads to confusion with fractions: 2/3.

As Y_Y already indicated:

> I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6 ….

If we're going to fuss about typography, these things:

> 500-600 wpm; 35-75 Kph; 2-3 grams.

are hyphens, and you want an en-dash: 500–600 wpm instead of 500-600 wpm.

Or simply use a space: "500, 600".

It might be healthier for your hands. Imagine decades of inefficient keyboard and mouse movement. This person had RSI problems quite young:


Most alternative keyboard layouts reduce hand motion by putting the most used letters on the home row.

I think the biggest factor here is ergonomics, no? If you already type so fast then you can afford to lose some of that in exchange for better ergonomics moving forward. Especially since the speed loss is temporary.

Because in order to type, you have to interrupt your train of thought. The shorter the duration of that interruption, the better.

(This is especially important in programming, where I sometimes lose track of where I was in my mind while I type.)

Well, maybe if you can't touch-type. I find that I can type and think at the same time.

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