Learn the home row keys to improve typing performance
For some people, typing can be a somehow frustrating and tormenting experience. In order to become a good typist, one needs to learn basic typing skills, and also practice those techniques. A keyboard is divided into different rows. Practicing on all of these rows, one by one, is the key to become an efficient typist. To get started on typing, it is best to familiarize yourself with the home row keys first.
Home Row Keys – Definition
The Home Row keys are located on the middle row of the keyboard. These are the letter keys:
There are also symbol keys depending on hardware, keyboard language and layout as well as the ‘Caps Lock’ and ‘Enter’ key on the outer edges.
It’s the base. – The home row is also the base where your fingers come back or rest when not typing. To master it, you will need to build a muscle memory for those main keys. Once you practice touch typing on the home row keys, your speed and accuracy will increase naturally.
Why is it important? – It simply includes those letter keys that are used most while typing. Learning the home row keys first will therefore make it a lot easier for you to type using a 10-finger position system, and you can apply those technique on nearly all kinds of typing keyboards.
Learning the Home Row Keys – Things to Look out For
The home row keys are A, S, D, F, G, J, K, l, ;. It is recommended to keep your fingers on or close to the keys at all times. Each hand and finger will only serve a range of predefined keys. The thumbs will rest on the space bar. Regular practicing will build the muscle memory necessary to increase speed and accuracy.
The placement of your hands is important. Your left hand:
- your pinkie finger should be on keyA
- ring finger onS
- middle finger onD
- the index finger should be onF
The right hand should focus on the following home row keys:
- index finger should be onJ
- middle finger should be onK
- ring finger should be onL
- the pinkie should be on;
Dvorak home row – This layout carries different letters on the home row. On the US version, your left hand will serve the A, O, E and U keys, while the right hand looks after the letter keys H, T, N and S.
Movements – As already mentioned, the key to mastering the home row is hand positioning. The home row keys serve as your base. From there, you will reach out to other keys of the keyboard and return back. Remember to position your hands on that row every time you start typing. Try to feel the little bumps on the key F and J to quickly get them in place.
Tutors – The best way to practice home row typing is to use a suitable tutor offering various drills and exercises. There are several websites available that will quickly teach you the basics through comprehensive lessons. Many lessons are available for free so you won’t have to pay anything to practice. On the other side, they usually lack step-by-step guidance and tutorials which is the benefit of premium tutors.
Exercises – When you start practicing, exercises may look boring at the beginning as you will start with simple sequences, i.e. “fff“, “jjj“, “kkk” or “lll“. You will then move on to easy combinations such as “fkf“, “kjk“, “jkj” or “;l;“. This makes all sense in order to develop your muscle memory and finger movements. Don’t worry, you will practice with real text later on.
Learning with all senses – Typing is a multi-sensory task. Try to not look at the keyboard but on the screen instead. This way you will see the letters popping up, and actively connect your finger muscles to the right home row keys. You will also spot and correct errors more easily. Furthermore, try to speak the letters out loud in order to better memorize their position.
Tip – If you keep looking at the keyboard, try to cover the home row keys during typing. This way you will force yourself to look at the screen and also remember the keys faster. Expect to mix up some of the letters at the beginning though.
Home Row Typing – Words & Sentences
One frequently asked question is which words or sentences you can type on the home row. While writing sentences could be difficult to achieve, there are few words you can type using just that row.
Home Row Keys Games
Games are the most fun way to learn something new, and typing is no exception here. We have selected a few games for you that should be fun to play, and are suitable for kids and younger students.
TypingGames Zone offers a whole range of games dedicated to the home row, i.e. Crazy Monkeys, Minute Man, Snakes, Typing Tanks or Piano Typist. Users can provide feedback and ratings, so you can see upfront what is currently popular.
Education.com offers a home row game called Gem Miner which is suitable for first to fifth graders. Players will focus on the most important home row keys only. A birdee will collect a gem for each letter typed correctly.
KidzType has probably the coolest home row games available. Typeroids is based on a simple Alien shooting game where aliens invade the Earth. You will need to type the home row words dispalyed on the screen to win this game.
Conclusion Home Row Typing & Keys
In a nutshell, to learn typing and to become good at it, going through regular home row keys drill sessions is essential. At first, typing on only one row of the keyboard may be difficult and frustrating. However, learning to correctly position your hands and also focus on your finger movement, will help speed things up and set the foundation for all other keyboard rows.
Keep in mind you probably won’t master this typing technique in a day or two. Make sure you practice the home row keys every day by doing on online exercises and drills.
How many keys are on the home row?
Depending on the keyboard layout and language you will come across different keys and letters. Above, we talked about the QWERTY keyboard featuring 9 letter keys. However, on a DVORAK one the home row keys are A, O, E, U, I, D, H, T, N, and S.
Some English (UK) and other language keyboards may also have different symbol keys on the home row such # or ‘, and have other keys swapped with the bottom row. There are 13 keys in total on a standard keyboard, the Mac one can reach 14 including the Enter key.
Does the numpad has home row keys?
Yes, while most laptop keyboards do not have a dedicated numeric keypad but a top row with numbers and symbols, a full-size keyboard has got one. The home keys are 4, 5 and 6. Similar to the keys F and J, you will find a small bump on the key to position your finger.
How long does it take to learn the home row?
You may quickly recognize the position of all home keys and find it easy to coordinate your fingers. To fully master the home row and coordinate finger movements to reach top and bottom row keys, you will need to have a bit more patience and be willing to practice regularly. Success will come. If you struggle with a specific key use some blu-tack to facilitate reaching that key correctly.
Advice for students with learning disabilities
We recommend to use a tutor particularly developed for those with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, ASD, Tourette’s Syndrome or Visual Stress. KAZ Typing is a highly recognized provider in this field making it easy to learn to touch type.
How to teach a class?
If you are a teacher you might want to share some essentials with your students before moving on to actually practice keys. Here is a brief introduction (original source):
- Explain learning outcome and benefits. Get everyone on board and motivated.
- Explain students the topic of touch typing and why finger placements, memorization and home keys are important.
- Set the topic: Home row keys. Point to location. Mention that you are going to practice the letter combinations of ASDF and JKL;, alternatively FGH combos.
- Have a worksheet ready with correct finger positions. Get students engaged to name letters and their respective fingers.
- Let students draw a home row with letters on a paper with letters.
- Have students place fingers on the right keys.
- Move on to a tutor to get started with real home row keys exercises.
Further reading: | How to Type Faster
Have you got any other tips or tricks to share? Please use the comments below.