Ten finger system

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lessons in blind typing in a commercial private school (1910)

The ten-finger system is the most widespread method that is used and taught for efficient typing (in Austria, “typing”) or computer writing, i.e. for entering text using a keyboard . Writing using the ten-finger system is also known as "blind writing", "tactile writing" or "ten-finger tactile writing".



Starting with the first documentation in the USA in 1888, the system began to establish itself in teaching worldwide from the 1890s onwards, with a rapidly increasing reception.

Basic principle

When writing with touch, each of the eight writing fingers is assigned a position on the keyboard and the view remains on the template (screen or paper) while writing. The fingers find the right key “blindly”. The basic position of the fingers is in the middle row of letters, the thumbs hover over the space bar. The finger movements required to safely reach each key, the grip paths , are gradually acquired through primarily unconscious motor learning through practice (as implicit knowledge ). Therefore, the term "tactile writing" (similar to the English touch typing ) is misleading, because the typist does not feel anything on the keyboard, at most the orientation keys , which are the two keys and with a small elevation for blind orientation in the standard key assignment in Europe are marked. FJ

Lessons in the ten-finger system

Typewriter lesson, WPA 1933

There are school lessons in tactile writing in the professional and partly in the general educational area (e.g. at Bavarian secondary schools, secondary schools and business schools). In recent years, courses and working groups in tactile writing have also been held for primary school students. It has proven to be ergonomically sensible and health-friendly to familiarize children with the correct command of the keyboard at the beginning of their intensive occupation with computer keyboards (i.e. from around 9 years of age). This finding also goes back to US research on the American elementary school subject "keyboarding". In Germany, the subject of tactile writing is (ideally) taught by state-certified word processing teachers or state-certified information technology teachers. Tactile writing can also be learned at adult education centers, in clubs or using various software.

In the meantime, mnemonics are also being used to learn ten-finger touch typing in public schools, adult education centers and other institutions. The mnemonic speaks to both sides of the brain. With entertaining word and image links as visualizations , she creates stimuli that allegedly anchor the position of the individual keys in the memory much faster and more permanently than conventional learning methods. In addition to mnemonics, relaxation techniques are also used.



Compared to a (inherently) unsystematic writing technique, the ten-finger system allows an increase in writing speed ( keystrokes per minute ) and an ergonomically more favorable input technique. Another advantage is the possibility of following the result on the monitor or of not having to constantly look back and forth between the text template and the keyboard when copying. A further increase in efficiency, albeit not limited to a specific method, means learning the key combinations for operating the program on the computer, as then you do not have to constantly switch between mouse and keyboard and the keyboard input is much faster than moving the mouse to a precise point on the screen.

However, more recent studies suggest that this superiority to other systematic techniques is put into perspective: This concerns studies in which those individual systems were also specifically included and examined as they gradually evolve even without methodological guidance under the influence of practice and motor learning without being aware of the user himself (rather also here as implicit knowledge ). If the results were considered taking age and experience into account, no relevant differences in the writing speed between users of their own and those of the ten-finger system or even in relation to the number of fingers were found.


The opposite extreme to the ten-finger system is colloquially caricatured as the eagle system ("circling and stinging") or eagle search system , since the fingers of inexperienced writers circle like an eagle over the keyboard until they have found the right key.

Strictly speaking, the ten-finger system should be called the nine-finger system, because most typists hit the space bar with the same thumb every time. One of the two thumbs (the left or the right depending on your preference) remains in the resting position with these pens and is not used.

The terms touch typing and all ten fingers are not the same in every case: are specialized blind writing systems and there was also for one-handed operation of keypad keyboards (on the modern computer keyboard right, but also for data devices), calculators and mobile phone keypads and other portables. In shorthand machines with two eight and four keys, eight of the ten fingers always rest on the same two keys, so that there are only two thumbs to reach. One-hand keyboards for five- finger blind typing are also available for operating graphics programs where keyboard and mouse operation is necessary, but especially graphics tablets

Writing speed

The attainable writing speed depends on the training time and personal ability. Experienced ten-finger writers achieve 200 to 400 strokes per minute in a 10-minute test . Up to 900 keystrokes per minute are currently reached in international competitions. Hitting the shift key and any other key also counts, e.g. B. Accents in French texts. Exception: At world championships, the texts have been counted in "characters / min" for some time.


In training, top writers can achieve results of more than 1200 strokes / min. Even with this, your data acquisition rate is still significantly lower than that achievable with shorthand .

When National Youth Writing (one performed annually writing contest of the National Youth for computers, shorthand and media ) and physically disabled people can participate. World championships take place every two years and are organized by the Intersteno (International Federation for Information Processing).


Assignment of the keys to the individual fingers in the ten-finger system (a German assignment is assumed)

Basic attitude for German keyboard

  • Left hand: A, S, D,F
  • Right hand: J, K, L,Ö

On almost every newer keyboard there is a small elevation (a feeler point ) on the keys Fand J( orientation keys ) in order to feel the basic position with the index fingers.

Operation of the buttons

  • little finger left: Q A Y < 1 2 ^
  • Ring finger left: W S X 3
  • Middle finger left: E D C 4
  • Index finger left: R F V T G B 5 6
  • Thumb left: Leertaste
  • little finger right: P Ö - Ü Ä ß ´ + #
  • Ring finger right: O L . 0
  • Middle finger right: I K , 9
  • Index finger right: Z H N U J M 7 8
  • Thumb right: Leertaste

Since the keys Steuerung, Alt, Alt Grand Windowsand Menu(or command/ alton Apple keyboards) did not occur on the original typewriters, they do not belong to touch typing. They are also essentially not required for entering the text data - and this is the point of the ten-finger system. The control button is most conveniently operated with the little finger. The Alt keys are easy to reach on the newer Windows PC keyboards (with the 2 Windows keys) with the thumbs (which also takes into account the fact that the Alt and AltGr keys have different functions and are not interchangeable).

If necessary, the shift key is always operated with the hand that is not currently operating a character key.

Modifications of the ten-finger system

In some countries (such as the United States ) the ten-finger system is taught slightly differently. The difference concerns the upper row of keys. The little finger on the left operates the button on the left edge as well as the button 1 , ring finger - 2 , middle finger - 3 , index finger - 4 and 5 . The fingers of the right hand are used for the following keys: index finger - 6 and 7 , middle finger - 8 , ring finger - 9 , little finger - 0 and the remaining keys to the right of the 0 key . In practice, it only plays a role in the manufacture (or choice) of so-called ergonomic keyboards, where the key field is divided in the middle.

Related developments

10-finger touch typing on the French Dvorak keyboard , here with about 570
keystrokes per minute .

Alternative keyboard layouts

The normal QWERTY keyboard layout is sometimes criticized as being unergonomic . In the rest position, for example, the right hand lies on keys for statistically rarely occurring letters . For example, the J only occurs with a frequency of 0.27%, while the most common letters E (17.4%) and N (9.8%) are in comparatively poor positions. Nevertheless, alternative assignments are not very common. Most famous is the Dvorak keyboard layout . Another one that is especially optimized for the German language is the Neo keyboard layout .

Reduction systems

In order to increase the data acquisition rate when typing, the currently leading Czech PC writers have been developing a computer abbreviation system since 1997. The resolution of the abbreviations works (as well as with replacements by the "autocorrection" of word processing programs) in real time. On this basis, abbreviations (keyboard shortcuts) can be entered for certain words, which are immediately converted into long form by the word processing system. Thus, the real number of hits is a lot lower than the nominal. This procedure ("shortening tactile writing") is also used by numerous PC writers in Germany, albeit not yet particularly sophisticated.

A standardized list of abbreviations for the most common words has only been discussed in more detail in the German-speaking world since 2004, although the first publication on this was published in 1995 (Alfred Waize: “Computer-Kurzschrift”, series of publications by the Research Center for Text Processing). The shortening technique is still in its infancy in Germany. In Austria and Italy, where development is already more advanced, keyboard shortcuts (as in the Czech Republic) are occasionally already taught in schools.

Web links

Wiktionary: tactile writing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stan J. Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis: Typing Errors. In: Reason. Free Minds and Free Markets. June 1996, accessed on August 18, 2020 .
  2. ^ Aalto University: Ten fingers not needed for fast typing, study shows. In: Phys.org. February 10, 2016, accessed on August 18, 2020 .