Typing standards

I still have a number of question about how to best measure typing speed and accuracy, but I have settled on one thing:

In the digital environment, where you don’t have to take LOTS of time to go back and make corrections on a hard copy, I think speed should not be adjusted with errors you make, but you correct on the fly. For example, I just did a test on a site where they only count your final result. So if you make an error and correct it, it doesn’t count as an error and doesn’t subtract from your speed.

I completely agree it shouldn’t count against your speed. Obviously, you lose some speed with the time it takes to make the corrections. That is appropriate. Why, if I correct 3 errors and come out with 70 wpm, should I be considered worse than a person who types 65 wpm and never had to correct a mistake? The net result still makes me overall faster. In a typewriter world, this would be different, but this isn’t a typewriter world!

Now, if calculating error rate, it gets more complicated. Should corrected errors count? Or not. I’m not so sure about this one. And any errors, do you count every wrong character as a percentage of all characters? Or just every wrong word, no matter how many errors are in in, as a percentage of all words? Those are things I am unsure about.

Now, about calculating uncorrected errors - if anyone knows how schools did this in the old days of typewriters, I’d love to know how they did it! Here are the possibilities I’ve thought of:

  1. Total number of errors divided by total number of characters typed. Which is how most online tests do it now, I think. So, using this method, if you do a 1 minute test and hit 300 characters, that would could as 60 wpm (5 characters, including spaces, equals one word usually). If you hit 3 characters wrong, that would be 1 percent. Doesn’t matter if they are in the same word or different words.

  2. Using the same example, at least one online test does the same basic math, but only counts 1 error in a word, even if you made more. So the results can differ quite a bit. If the errors are in different words, the results are the same. But if all 3 errors were in the same word, it would only count as one error, thus the error rate would only be 0.33 percent.

  3. But then the argument could be made that while it is fine to only count 1 error per word, the percentage should be based on the number of words spelled wrong divided by the total number of words. So, if it is three separate words missed and you typed 60 words, that would be one wrong word out of every 20 (5% error rate). But if they were all in the same word, it would only count once (one wrong word out of 60 for an error rate of 1.67%.

I’m sure some people consider the differences to be meaningless, since they range from 0.33% to 5%. But numbers can be funny things. I look at it from an opposite viewpoint. Going back to just total characters and errors, a 5% error rate would be one mistake in every 20 characters. A 0.33% error rate is one mistake every 300 characters! That is a huge difference.

But I also think it helps to have a consistent (“official” if you will) system so people are comparing to the same thing. Which is why I’d really like to know if schools that teach this stuff do, in fact, go with some sort of standard system.

By this logic, I think it would also be interesting to take typing tests with an autocorrect feature enabled. I’ve found that I can blow right through certain errors if I recognize in my mind that it’s an error the system is likely to correct for me as soon as I leave the word. For instance in the last sentence I hit “b” instead of “v”. I kept right on typing without pause, and the word “leave” got autocorrected.

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When I took typing in High School (in the manual typewriter days). When you took a typing test, once you reached 5 errors, you didn’t get credit for anything typed after that during the time window.

I can see that point, but to some extent it would make it harder to see how well you actually type. Not counting corrected errors has a built in penalty since it takes time to correct. Auto correct bypasses that. But the main thing is that there be a consistent way people measure these things both for comparison stake but also to make “requirements” for a job mean the same thing.

How long were the tests? Also, how did they count multiple errors in the same word? IOW, was it 5 wrong characters or 5 wrong words? That could be the same thing, but will often be quite different.

Each incorrect character counted as an error, and the tests were 3 minutes.

In those days, without any kind of correction, making an error was a huge deal, which meant whiting out or erasing the mistake and re typing the correct character.

I was pretty proud of my 60 WPM in that test.

Now, I type 150 WPM (but half of them are backspaces) :wink:



Wow, I’d like to see how you do on a TB! Maybe WT will be interested in that too. We can hope.

Interesting, so 60 wpm for 3 minutes would be 900 characters. Five errors, even in the same word, would still come out to one error every 180 characters. Or 0.5555% error. I figure anything below 1% to be very good for my usage.

I well remember the hassles of fixing errors on a typewriter, though I never took a class to learn the skills. So I figure it makes some sense to make adjustments in how we do it today. I was corresponding with a writer who told me she didn’t know what her error rate was, but since she typed something like 120 wpm, she felt that she accomplished more correcting as she went rather than slowing down to make fewer errors.

Growing up I remember using these old red circle type erasers. Sometimes they would erase (enough to type over the character) and sometimes they would just tear a little rip through the paper where the mistyped character used to be!!!



Haven’t even seen a picture of one of those in years! Had forgotten all about them.

Anyone else find that most of their typing mistakes are the result of fingers either locking up or going spastic for an instant? I haven’t seen anyone say anything about this except me. I looked at some old stats of mine where:

120 one minute tests taken.
Total of 219 errors (1.825 errors per minute)
I averaged about 68 wpm so 40,800 characters.
Therefore, one error for every 186 characters (0.995% accuracy)

All great, but when I look at a breakdown of the errors of that 219, I have:

78 where my finger locked up so the key didn’t register

24 where I fingers went spastic (sort of like the above, except I do hit keys down - just out of control for an instant).

19 where I reversed the characters. Which, if you think about it, can be a spastic reaction too.

So, those three things that may all be related to muscle control as opposed to a mental error total 131 of the errors. So if where is a way to reduce those problems, my accuracy would really be great.

But I have no idea how to do that. Even when I type slower, I’ll have these problems happen.