Is Your Computer Mouse Giving You RSI?

When you bought your home computer or laptop, or put in a request to upgrade your computer system at work, you probably spent a good bit of time thinking about the type of computer you wanted, and where you were going to put it. After all, you need good equipment to get good results, and having your computer in a convenient location where you’re able to sit comfortably and easily reach the rest of your work materials is also an important factor in getting those results efficiently and effectively. If you bought a PC, you might have even considered different types of keyboards, so that your hands could be in the most stress-free position for fast touch typing. However, you might not have thought much about the computer mouse you bought. After all, the mouse is off to the side, and it’s not generally used while typing, so it’s not really important, right?


If you spend a lot of time at the computer, you definitely spend a lot of time using a mouse, unless you’re working on a laptop and only using the touchpad. While touchpad usage can also cause problems because of cramped hand or shoulder positions, that’s a topic for another post. Today, we’re going to look at how the mouse you choose and use might affect your posture, your health, and even your typing speed.

What type of mouse should I use? Most people go with the standard “mouse”-shaped device that rolls on a trackball or uses laser tracking, where the point-and-click functions are done with the index and second fingers. If you find that your hand cramps after too much clicking, you may need to look into a different type of mouse or a different position. There are “joystick” versions of the mouse that change your hand position and use the thumb as well as the fingers for clicking, and these can relieve the strain on your hand. If you’re comfortable with your hand in the “writing” position then you might also look at a pen-shaped mouse, a new style that is getting good reviews.

Where should the mouse be located? Ideally, your mouse should be as close to the keyboard as possible, so that movement is minimized. You can buy platforms that allow you to position the mouse over the right or left side of the keyboard; generally with a PC keyboard there’s room over the numeric keypad for the platform, and you can move the platform out of the way if you’re going to be doing number input. If that’s not possible, make sure your mouse position doesn’t require you to stretch your arm forward or too far to the side. Think about using a wireless mouse to eliminate the cord and provide more flexibility in positioning.

How should I use the mouse to avoid RSI? Since RSI (repetitive strain injury) is caused by doing the same motions over and over, especially if those motions cause pressure or pain in muscles or tendons, one of the best ways to avoid it is to avoid making those motions too many times. While you’ll have to use your mouse for some computer functions, you can also accomplish many tasks with keystroke equivalents. Use the [Page Up] and [Page Down] keys instead of the mouse to move through a document, and learn command key sequences like [Ctrl]-[P] to call up your print menu, rather than clicking on the menu bar.

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Test Your Top Typing Speed With Transcription

Are you focused on improving your typing skills because you want a new job, or a better job? In a previous post we talked about some of the employment opportunities you’ll find opening up for you when you’re a top typist, including legal transcriptionist and medical transcriptionist. Transcription in general involves listening to an audio tape or file, or watching a video, and typing what is being said. Most people agree that for English language speakers, the average speaking rate is around 125 words per minute. If you want to be able to type as fast as people speak, that’s the target wpm you need to aim for. Don’t worry – it’s not an impossible goal, even if it seems like it right now. By using the techniques and exercises provided in the Typesy software courses, it’s possible to triple your typing speed; since most average typists start out at around 45wpm, you can see that the goal of 125wpm is well within reach.

One way you can get practice in transcription and challenge yourself is by trying to transcribe what people are saying on the television or radio. For this exercise, you’ll want to find a show that doesn’t have several people talking at once, but rather one person talking at a time. A nature show with narration is a good place to start, or any other documentary. The people hired to narrate these shows are selected for their speaking skills, so you’ll not have a problem understanding them, and they will be speaking relatively slowly. Take your laptop to the living room and type along with the words you hear – but don’t get too caught up in the videos of the cute lion cubs or the history of space exploration while you’re typing!

The television is useful for another typing exercise in transcription if you turn on the “captioning” option. The people who are typing in the captions have to type quickly, as quickly as the words come, but there will be a delay between the spoken words and the words that appear on the screen. You can test yourself to see if you can type the captions faster than they appear, or you can turn the sound off and type the captions as you read them on the screen. Is it faster for you to type what you see, or what you hear? Practice what you’re good at to get better, and focus on where you’re slower to improve your speed.

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What Words Can You Type Using Your Right Hand?

If you’re left-handed, congratulations! You join Albert Einstein, Barack Obama, and Bill Gates, among others, in a select group of approximately ten percent of the population. Note: If you aren’t already celebrating International Left-Handers Day, put August 13th on your calendar now. As a left-hander, you’re probably familiar with the down side of being in the minority, and are used to dealing with desks, scissors, cars, and everyday conveniences that, well, aren’t as convenient if you don’t have a right-handed orientation. On the other hand, you’ve got the advantage over those right-handers because your left hand will generally be stronger and more flexible, making it easier to use that hand to touch type. That will help you increase your typing speed, because many of the most common letters, including A, S, E, T, R, and D, are typed with the left hand. It will also help you with those difficult words that include a Q or an X or a Z, all of which are also typed with the left hand (and which generally are the most difficult words to type).

But even with this keyboard advantage, don’t forget that touch typing depends on both hands! To make sure that your right hand works as well as the left, try practicing your typing skills with this list of words that are typed with right side of keyboard only:


Even if you prefer to have your mouse on the left side of the keyboard, there’s only one right way to touch type and reach the typing speed you want, and that’s to keep both your left and your right hand strong, flexible, and accurate on the keys.

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Are You Right-Handed? Use This Exercise And You Won’t Be Left Behind

Right-handed people tend to have a weaker left hand, but a good touch typist needs to have equal strength in both hands, since both are used equally in typing. The Typesy software system focuses on making sure that both hands have equal agility, flexibility, strength through a series of exercises that focus on each hand and every finger. If you’re not using Typesy, you can still practice on your own to build your left hand strength. Try typing out this list of practice words that only use the left hand on a standard QWERTY keyboard.


Another way to equalize the abilities of your hand is to use your left hand for things you’re accustomed to using your right hand for. Hold your toothbrush in your left hand. Use your left hand to brush your hair, or point out the window, or dial the numbers on the telephone. It will seem awkward at first, but as your mind forms stronger connections between the actions and the nerve impulses, it will be easier.

If your left hand is significantly weaker than your right, you might consider getting a small rubber ball to squeeze in your left hand to build up muscle strength. Be careful not to overdo the exercise at first, and stop exercising if you feel your hand start to cramp. Even simply tapping the fingers of your left hand in different patterns is a good way to develop agility and precision. When both your left and your right hand are working well, your typing speed will definitely increase.

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The Three “L”s of Typing: Limbs, Leg Position, and Length

How you sit at your desk and where you have your arms and legs will have a big impact on how fast you can type, because when you’re sitting out of alignment or in an uncomfortable position, your speed will slow and your error rate increase. In addition, improper keyboard height and position can both lead to the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis, and other wrist problems. It can also cause shoulder and hand pain.

Finding the ideal keyboard position is made simpler by focusing on a position that is natural and relaxed, one that creates the letter “L” like your legs and body do when they’re in the right position. Let your arms hang down to your sides naturally so that they don’t cause your shoulders to hunch. When bent at the elbow, your arm and forearm should form the letter “L” – or, if easier to visualize, a ninety degree angle. When properly positioned, your keyboard and your elbows should both be about the same height. You should also be able to naturally curve your fingers and position them close to the keys.

Remember to use your chair’s arm rests to alleviate excess weight on your back and shoulders. If necessary, you can purchase a keyboard tray, an accessory that can be attached to your desk and adjusted.

As with your computer monitor, the placement of your keyboard on your work surface matters. You don’t want it too close to you or too far away. If you have to stretch your arms and tilt your torso forward to reach it, it’s too far. If the keyboard is too close, your arms and forearms will create more of a “V” shape than the preferred ninety degree angle or “L-shape”.

If you find you bend your wrists sideways or upwards while typing on the keyboard, you will have to make adjustments or consider purchasing one of the other styles of keyboard available.

The best advice for maintaining a more neutral wrist posture is to try adjusting your keyboard or your chair’s height. Additionally, you can try elevating either the back or the front of your keyboard. Finally, you can consider adding a wrist rest to your work surface. Some keyboards have built-in wrist rests. If yours doesn’t have this feature, don’t worry. They can be purchased inexpensively and can definitely help reduce the risk of developing RSI.

Note: If you experience musculoskeletal pain and discomfort now, or while completing the Typesy Course, you may need to seek professional help. Only someone with the proper training can accurately diagnosis the source of your pain or discomfort and recommend a treatment plan that may or may not include ergonomics.

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Quick Eye Exercises to Improve Typing Speed

Your fingers get a pretty good workout from touch typing – and believe it or not, so do your eyes. Your eyes might actually work harder than your fingers as they quickly and repeatedly dart from left to right, right to left, up and down and all around as they continually refocus on monitor images. No wonder eye fatigue is such a common complaint among computer users!

To help alleviate some of this strain, remember to give your eye muscles frequent breaks. One simple way to do this is by switching your view from your monitor to something off in the distance about once each hour. All you have to do is locate an object that’s about 15 to 20 feet away. Then, once an hour, look at it for a minute or so. That’s it!

Another eye exercise you can do right at your desk to help give tired muscles a rest is eye rolling. Simply close your eyes, and while closed, move your eyes over to the right and pause for five seconds, then look over to the left and pause, then move your eyes up, pause, and look down and pause.

Then with your eyes still closed, slowly move them in a circular direction. Make the circle as big as you can with your eyes. Continue until you have completed five full circles. Then reverse direction and slowly make five more circles. Do this whenever your eyes feel tired. If your boss asks what you’re doing, tell him you’re exercising!

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Shining Some Light On Typing Best Practices

Adequate lighting is an absolute must if you want to avoid eye strain, but it often seems that few typists understand just how important proper lighting is. Without adequate lighting, it is difficult to see your work. That’s obvious. But when you have to assume an awkward position just so you can view what’s on your monitor, you are setting yourself up for eyestrain, eye fatigue, and headaches. Glare on your monitor screen is another problem that often results from positioning your computer monitor in the wrong spot. Glare can make it difficult to clearly see what’s on your monitor, and can also trigger eye strain.
Why suffer when the right amount of illumination and proper placement can alleviate these problems before they have a chance to develop?

When it comes to lighting your work space, remember that brighter is not always better. Bright overhead lighting can “wash out” images on your screen. Task lighting, window blinds and shades, light diffusers, removing bulbs to reduce brightness, and other lighting adjustments can all help tone down light that’s too bright.

Sometimes, however, you may have to reposition your monitor in order to increase visibility or reduce glare. For example, a lot of typists position the backs of their monitors in front of windows so they can gaze out the window. But the resulting contrast problems can make it difficult to clearly see what’s on your monitor. No doubt we all would like to look out the window, especially if we’re stuck in an office all day. But if doing so interferes with visibility, it’s a problem.

Again, window coverings can help. So can shielded lighting and indirect lighting. If possible, you can even rearrange your work space in a way that puts direct light at a right angle with your monitor.
Just as too much light can cause problems, so can too little. As often as possible try to avoid situations where there is a lot of contrast between dark and light at your work space, on the monitor, and in the room.

Glare is another problem created by inadequate lighting. Glare often results when light from overhead lights and windows is reflected on the monitor. Again, quick fixes like window coverings, task lighting, glare filters and guards, light diffusers, and repositioning the monitor and the light at right angles can all help reduce glare and the health issues it can trigger.

As we’ve mentioned before, while these changes might be easy in your home office, you might hesitate before making major adjustments at work. However, your employer will probably be more than happy to help you set up your workspace to reduce your stress and increase your efficiency as a typist!

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4 Ways to Earn $ With Touch Typing Skills

Besides enhancing your career prospects, touch typing has the potential to improve your earning potential, as well. Many employers are willing to pay higher salaries to individuals who can prove they are invaluable and possess a desirable skill set that includes touch typing. It doesn’t get much better than that! Here are four reasons you can quickly see an increase in the amount of money you have available after you’ve learned to touch type:

Touch typing saves time. Whether you work for yourself or others, in the end it all comes down to productivity. The more you can produce, the more you’ll get paid. When you can speed up your power of production by learning how to touch type, you’ll also speed up your earning potential.

Touch typing reduces your risk of developing RSI, or repetitive strain injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other stress-related injuries may need to be corrected by painful surgeries and expensive medication or injections. In addition, you’ll probably have to take time off work to get these problems fixed. If you can lower the risk of incurring these injuries in the first place, you won’t have to worry about spending more money on medical expenses, or losing more money by missing work days.

Touch typing can open the door to exciting careers in the secretarial, administrative, transcription, research, and writing fields. Take a look at some of the salary lists for transcriptionists and secretaries and you’ll see that it’s possible to earn a good living at these jobs. The standard typing speed required to start in these fields is around 45-60wpm (with good accuracy) but if you can increase your typing speed to over 80wpm you’ll automatically move to the top of the list.

Touch typing can improve performance in any job, regardless of whether the job is related to typing or not. Even business owners can benefit from the ability to touch type, whether or not they employ secretaries to do most of the correspondence. But whether you’re a business owner or an employee, touch typing can improve both your career prospects and your earning potential.

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What If I’m Not Typing In English? All About Non-QWERTY Keyboards

The Typesy system is designed to teach you to touch type on a standard QWERTY keyboard, where the letters are in a specific arrangement across the three rows. The system also supports keyboard layouts for UK English and Spanish, which have the same letter layout but some different arrangements of punctuation and symbol keys. There are other keyboard layouts in use around the world, however, and if you do a lot of traveling and rely on internet cafés for your e-mails, you need to be aware that your touch typing skills might actually cause you to slow down, since the letters you expect to find under your fingers won’t be where you think they are.

If you’re traveling in Germany, Poland,, or Switzerland, then you’ll probably see the QWERTZ keyboard, where the Y and Z keys have switched places. In addition, the many accent marks (diacritical marks) and special letters in Eastern European alphabets will appear beside, or instead of, some of the punctuation and symbols you’re used to seeing.

To support French-language typists in France and Belgium the keyboard configuration AZERTY is used. This keyboard also includes accented letters used in French, and switches several letters across the rows.

It’s difficult for typists once non-Latin alphabets are considered, because everything changes, and there won’t be an easy way for someone used to a QWERTY keyboard to type on a keyboard in Russia that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. However, some computers make it easy to switch between the two layouts, and for letters that are the same in both alphabets (like J, M, K, and B) the positions are identical.

What happens when a language doesn’t depend on a letter-based alphabet? For people in China and Japan, a computer is the only practical solution. It allows phonetic word entry, which then calls up a pop-up window of possible word choices for the typist to select. If we did this in English, it would be like typing in the letters W-A-Y-T and being presented with the words wait and weight to choose from. That might seem to be a long way around to simply type a word, but think about this: where there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, there are over 10,000 characters in Mandarin. Imagine trying to fit all of those keys on one keyboard!

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Can Laptop Computers Cause Typing Problems?

If you regularly use both a laptop and a desktop computer, you’ve probably already realized that the keyboard on your laptop is smaller than a standard keyboard. This can make it difficult to stay in the best position to reduce stress, and they way you sit and hold your arms might feel awkward because of the size of the keyboard. To compensate for its flatness and the reduced space in between keys, try raising your fingers a bit. Alternatively, you can plug in an external standard keyboard or use a wireless keyboard instead.

This is strictly a personal choice based on what you are more comfortable with. Some would advise you learn touch typing using the keyboard that you will use the majority of time you type, so if you do most of your typing at work on a standard PC but use a laptop for internet chat at home, try to get access to a desktop computer when you’re working on your typing studies.

Keyboard differences with laptops can cause problems, and the same is true with the laptop touchpad that moves the cursor around and performs other functions similar to those performed by a mouse. The touchpad is there for those of you who want to use it. If you’d rather not, you can always plug in an external mouse or use a wireless mouse.

One other problem with laptops is that the screen is fixed to the keyboard. If the keyboard’s low enough for comfortable typing, the screen is probably not at the optimal height to keep you in a good posture. Conversely, if you put your laptop high enough that you can see the screen straight ahead, you’re probably typing with your arms and hands elevated, which will also lead to stress. Again, a plug-in or wireless separate keyboard will help eliminate these problems.

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