Typing is a science as well as a skill, and ever since the invention of the typewriter in the 1800s there have been people studying the process. How does information come in through the eyes and ears and flow out through the fingers, and what happens in the brain during that transmission? If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that people have all ten fingers moving quickly and accurately when touch typing. Actually, don’t think about it – there’s no time to “think” about each of the finger movements in typing, at least not once you’ve built your skill to a certain level. It’s all about automatic muscle movements, stored memories, and developing the ability to keep typing what you’ve just processed in short-term memory while absorbing the next set of information to type out.
In the book Cognitive Aspects of Skilled Typewriting (Springer-Verlag, 1983), researcher and editor William E. Cooper collected a series of articles by scientists and theorists about typing, and specifically about transcription. “Transcription” is the act of taking in words via the ears or the eyes, and typing them into a document. Other topics discussed include the amount of information kept in short-term memory; in general, people’s eyes move ahead of their fingers by about 8 characters. In other words, you “read ahead” as you type, but only by a word or two, and your fingers are typing what your eyes have just finished looking at, not what they’re currently looking at. With practice, a good typist can increase the number of words/characters in short-term memory. It’s an important skill for a transcriptionist, especially since most people read faster than they type. It’s even more important to increase the speed at which you can take in information through your ears and type it out. All this happens with a lot of practice, so take every opportunity you can to work on this skill. Even if you don’t have or want a job that involves transcription, it’s a good way to hone your overall typing skills.
P.S. If you DO want a job as a transcriptionist, read this post.