How Fast Do People Type?

Less than half the population of the world has the manual dexterity to wiggle their fingers at the speed of 50 words per minute or better.

–Dr. Alan Lloyd, seminal typing instructor.

Computer professionals often seem to have unrealistically high expectations of what the “average” typist can do. For example, according to this Wikipedia article (as of 2007-12-04)

An average typist reaches 50 to 70 wpm, while some positions can require 80 to 95 (usually the minimum required for dispatch positions and other typing jobs), and some advanced typists work at speeds above 120.

But as we shall see 70 WPM is an absurdly high “average”. 120 WPM means 12 strokes a second, or a split-time of 83mesc between keypresses. That borders on the physically impossible.

As Teresia R. Ostrach, President of Five Star Staffing, Inc. says,

After 27 years in the Staffing Industry, I’ve encountered just about every misconception regarding the performance of office workers. The most frustrating of these is the belief in what constitutes “average” typing scores.

“For years I tried to explain that 65 WPM is a lot faster than average, but I had no proof. After all, everybody knows what an average typist is, right? Somebody who types between 50 and 60 WPM? Well, isn’t it? Well, NO, it’s not!

Here are her findings:
Average Typing Speed

Mean = 40 WPM = 240 characters/minute
Median = 38 WPM = 228 characters/minute
Standard Deviation = 16.7-WPM = 100 characters/minute

Notice that that out of the three thousand four hundred and seventy five applicants, not a single one could manage 120 WPM. And only the top 5% of applicants could manage 70 WPM or higher.

Typing Speed: How Fast is Average
4,000 typing scores statistically analyzed and interpreted

It’s an excellent paper. Short and accessible, yet relevant, authoritative, and eye-opening. Well worth the read. (Unfortunately it’s laid out poorly in the liked PDF. If someone has a more readable source I’d love to link to it).

But what’s more interesting to me is this chart:
Typing Errors By WPM
Which shows an average error-rate of about 6% per word. Put another way, more then 1 out of every 17 words has a typo in it, which is kind of a big deal.

The error-rate is probably artificially high, because subjects were taking the test under a lot of pressure — it determined if they got a job or not! But even the best group of over-qualfied typists still had a 4% error rate; or a fumble on 1 out of every 25 words. And that’s significant.

The implications of a 4%-6% error-rate are enormous. If people are making that many errors, then good spellcheckers, and auto correctors are essential. If one out of every 17-25 words is mistyped, then long command-lines seem like a very bad idea, because something like one out of every 20 commands would be in-error. Systems should be able to gracefully recover from bad input; because they will be inundated with it.

It looks like the average typist is much slower, and makes more mistakes, then “folk-wisdom” leads us to believe.

Explore posts in the same categories: Accessibility, Design, Productivity, Programming, Research, Usability

71 Comments on “How Fast Do People Type?”

  1. kwiksand Says:

    It’s an interesting thing to see graphed out, I know from a programmers perspective I can hammer out lines of code in no time at all, or similarly when writing this comment. But if I was dictating for say, a lawyer, typing words I wouldn’t normally type (especially under pressure) even though I may know full well how to spell each word, I’ll make typing mistakes all over the place.

    I’m pretty sure in my heyday, when I was concentrating I could hit the 90WPM for extended periods of time, but I think I’d be hard pressed to do 70 or 75 now. In that sense, I’ve definitely become lazier.

    • You are absolutely right, I type 160 WPM so the temp agency called me offering me a job to do legal dictation for a workers compensation attorney. What did I find immediately in the door? That my 160 was really about 106-110 until I had typed those big long legal words a bunch of times and had them engrained in my brain.

  2. […] Published December 5, 2007 Design , Usability , User experience I found a fascinating blog entry this morning on the misconceptions surrounding the speed at which people type, the error rate, and […]

  3. James Cook Says:

    I make many errors which I immediately correct, often without having to look at the screen. Do the error rates here count errors that are later corrected? If so, the implications are exaggerated.

  4. Q Says:

    I have personally hit 150 wpm for periods of 3-5 minutes (this was actually timed). The problem is that I run out of words to type. My typing speed varies based on what I’m doing: copying, listening, writing, coding, etc. I normally type ~50 wpm, but I only using 3 fingers and a thumb.

    Most of my mistakes are corrected by feel: I feel that I hit the wrong key three strokes back and correct it quickly enough that it doesn’t effect speed.

    I find it hard to believe that I’m 6.6 standard deviations out.

    First, this study should be done under normal typing conditions.

    Second, it should only test people who have been trained to type and do so frequently. Everyone begins as a poor typist.

  5. vgable Says:

    @James Cook,

    My understanding from reading the paper was that the error rate included typos that were instinctively corrected. So the 4-6% error rate was of key presses, not final words.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know any data on how many words are mistyped. As you point out, it could be a lot lower.

    Does the 4-6% key-press error rate hold for keyboard shortcuts? Anecdotally I don’t think it does. But I don’t have anything other than “it feels like I hit the wrong key a lot less than that” to base that on.

    6.6 ∑ does seem pretty unbelievable! I agree that the study should be done under normal typing conditions. I also think if it were repeated today, the average would be higher, because computers are increasingly ubiquitous, and more children grow up using them.

    But I strongly disagree that these kinds of tests should only be done on people who have been trained to type, and practice typing. I think the question of how fast to most computer users type is more interesting and valuable.

  6. Jamie Dolan Says:


    Thanks for the interesting article. The requirements of some agencies seem quite silly to me. My girl friend, who is a nursing assistant was looking at some medical office positions, that also required some data entry. They required 60+ WPM, I thought to myself, that really sounds quite high. So I looked it up and found your page. I can type up in the 70+ WPM range with errors, or error free (correcting my errors as I go) at 50+ WPM. I can see now from your charts that there are very few people (5% or less) that can achieve typing rates as fast as what I can do. Based on your charts, I doubt more than 10% can type at over 60 WPM.

    Jamie Dolan
    Neenah, WI

  7. Aaron Adams Says:

    I spend a lot of time practicing typing on programs like MicroType and various typing test websites such as and can do 120 wpm no problem with 99-100% accuracy.

    Speed really depends on the text difficulty. Copying stuff out of a chemistry book for example is a lot harder because of all the jargon and big words with fingering patterns that haven’t been locked into your muscle memory yet. If something has a lot uncommon words, and a shitload of weird punctuation and symbols it can slow my typing speed dramatically down to 90-100 wpm. On the other side of things, I have reached a personal record of 168 wpm typing a short 3-4 sentence paragraph on Microtype that contains common everyday words with no punctuation other than periods and commas (albeit with a couple errors). Also on microtype I sometimes on a good day reach 1 sentence speed bursts of up to 176 wpm. on the text is a bit harder and a lot longer so my personal best there is only 142 wpm (96% accuracy) on “the enchanted typewriter” for 60 seconds.

    I’ve never had my wpm taken for more than a 60 second period so I can’t say for sure if 5 minutes 120 wpm is “physically impossible” or not.

    Keep in mind I have been playing the piano for 12 years. so its safe to say that extra finger dexterity has built up overtime. If you look at some of the ridiculously fast passages concert pianists need to execute over a span of 88 keys (listen to Chopin’s “winter wind” etude on youtube for example), 120+ wpm on a mere computer keyboard is not unrealistic at all. People who pick up the piano for the first time will fumble all over the keys trying to play a simple scale, in very much the same way a person just learning to type does on a keyboard.

  8. I must confess I was quite flattered to find that an article I wrote several years ago for a staffing industry magazine has gained such exposure on the internet. I’ve found abundant quotes from it on many sites, and not a single one sought me out to ask for clarification before commenting. Yet a 10 second search on Google could find me. Anyway, some interesting suggestions were brought up.
    First, thank all of you for your comments. I’m not likely to be in a position to repeat this analysis in my lifetime or to test out the other theories presented here, but here are a few clarifications.
    It’s not surprising that there are unanswered questions which I will try to address but I’m sure I’ll miss many. In any case, anyone wishing to reach me may send a note to Here are my comments:
    1) Several people commented on how the “study” should have been done. This was NOT a “study.” It was a de facto analysis of EVERY score from EVERY individual taking a standardized typing test in my own business over a period of several years. Nobody “set out” to do a study. I simply collected the information we already had on computer and analyzed it.
    2) Regarding how typing speeds are probably higher now based upon the fact that so many of us use computers, I don’t know of anyone who has researched this, but surely there must be someone out there who has. The jury is still out on that.
    3) Several people commented on their own experience either with correcting errors or how they instinctively “feel” if they’ve made a mistake. No doubt this may be true, but I know of no study or analysis that has tested that out. This was not “designed” to be a definitive “study.” It’s merely an analysis of the years of data we had on hand.
    4) As I clearly stated in my article, the ability to back up to correct errors was disabled in our computerized test. The results are as they stand. Since NO ONE could correct errors, the conditions were the same for everyone. Whether allowing people to self-correct would make a difference in the scores, I cannot know since I can’t go back and re-test those 4,000 people under different conditions. I can tell you, from personal experience of 30 years in an industry that people who were allowed to correct their errors as they typed usually missed a few and, I suspect, their speed scores were lower, ultimately resulting in the same approximate score.
    5) As I mentioned in my article, Dr. Alan Lloyd stated, from his studies, that the “average” person has difficulty WIGGLING his/her fingers at 50 wpm. Since he was a major authority on typing in his day, I tend to trust him.
    6) In my personal experience over 30 years of screening applicants for clerical jobs, scores for a 5-minute test are always lower than scores for a 1- or 2-minute test. Many people can have their fingers fly for a short period of time but cannot maintain that speed for 5 minutes. Usually if they do, their error rate increases dramatically.
    7) As another general rule, the very fastest typists also had the fewest errors. It was unusual for a 100+-wpm typist to have more than an occasional error. On the other hand, there were many people who could type at the SPEED of 40 wpm while making 40 errors!
    8) There was a suggestion that tests should be done in a more “normal” environment. As soon as you start a test, though, it’s not a normal environment anymore. We always assumed that in a normal work environment people type faster than they do on a test. As a matter of fact, we counted on it. We encouraged companies NOT to rely on typing speed alone–that when people settle into a job, their anxiety is reduced and their performance increases.
    9) Yes, it is true that speed depends upon the difficulty of the text being typed. It is also true that EVERYONE who took these tests took the same test in the same room on the same computer and additionally,
    10) The test was set up to repeat the content automatically if a person reached the end. It recycled so that no one would ever be in the position of running out of text as one person said.
    As I said, you may contact me personally:

  9. nice job guys,i like your simple themes.
    I want to style a single category title differently.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    i can type fast

  11. Jamie Dolan Says:

    But can you use capital letters? Seriously, it doesn’t do any good to be able to type fast if your accuracy rate is low.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    hmm my average typing speed is about 120wpm, while my personal max is 160

    most of it is from and online games like

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Hi everyone…

    To my knowledge there has been no officially accepted test like this for QWERTY/Dvorak typing speed and accuracy. Perhaps Teresia R. Ostrach would consider some investigation into this.

    As a Dvorak typist, I’d be very interested in the results!


  14. Anonymous Says:


  15. waffle Says:

    man after reading the error rate the fact that my keyboard teacher only allows five errors for 3 paragraghs or its an f seems quite ridiculous

  16. […] to this test I type about 60-65 words a minute, which is above average, but it’s not exceptional and I’m pretty sure in high school I was typing about the […]

  17. Mist Says:

    Nonsense. The average WPM for 11 year olds would be around 87

    • Clara Says:

      You might have gotten a… slight calculation error there. I am one of the top three fastest typers in my school’s 6th grade and my WPM is 58.

      • Anonymous Says:

        I type at 86 words per minute, however I am indeed the fastest in my seventh grade class. I don’t really find this impressive as I am a pc gamer.

    • Anonymous Says:

      What I am 13 and my wpm is only 31

  18. Wuzza Buzza Says:

    You use “then” where you mean “than” twice! And you made an error in “liked” rather than “linked”. Were you rushing to type this?

  19. […] to this test I type about 60-65 words a minute, which is above average, but it’s not exceptional and I’m pretty sure in high school I was typing about the […]

  20. Adam Says:

    I usually monitor and 158 WPM is the highest result.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    “120 WPM means 12 strokes a second, or a split-time of 83mesc between keypresses. That borders on the physically impossible.”

    bahahaha I can’t believe someone actually thinks/wrote this.

    • Anonymous Says:

      its 120 WORDS, I guess the average word has 4-5 letters plus the space key. That’s 2 WORDS per second and 6 strokes per word. The math is correct

  22. […] to this study, the average person types about 38 wpm. This matches well with the results of, which […]

  23. Arotarix Says:

    As someone who routinely averages 130-140WPM and can burst to 200+ with 99% accuracy, I can tell you that fast typing is not just about being able to think and move your fingers quickly – the keyboard is a HUGE factor. I can only type this fast on the keyboard I’m using, which is one with an extremely light actuation pressure (~30g), short actuation distance, and smaller gaps between the keys (so I don’t have to hit all the keys in their center — getting a corner suffices). I also have a laptop whose keyboard requires much more force, in the 60-70g range, and I can barely get to 120WPM with that; same with the more conventional full-sized keyboards with very deep key travel and wide gaps between keys, where even sustaining 100WPM quickly gets tiring.

  24. […] The average person types around 40 words per minute (WPM).  I type about 130-140 WPM (proof).  Sometimes, and this might sound weird, I feel in the zone and can type significantly faster – closer to 160 WPM.  I attribute this to my piano background and a childhood playing video games.  Sometimes I’ll sit at the piano, and things just feel right, whereas other times my fingers just get stuck on each other. […]

  25. Anonymous Says:

    I do type 50 WPH, but It depends on what I am doing. I do type faster when I am listening and make less error.

  26. […] audio is between 50-80 words per minute (WPM) , with two-finger typists measuring 27 WPM.  The true average is closer to 40 WPM. Finally, consider the error rate.  The average error rate is 6%, or about 1 […]

  27. maakousagi Says:

    The last three typing tests I’ve taken were respectively 129wpm, 127wpm and 128wpm. I don’t have to look at my keyboard or think about where to hit my keys but I have to have total concentration and I have to read one to two words infront of the word I’m typing at the same time. If my thinking gets bothered by anything, I immediatly start failing and I have to restart all over.

    It’s kind of weird to me that the average typing speed is so low, typing over 110wpm to me is extremely natural but I guess that’s the result of being on the computer all the time. Currently, I’m trying to put those skills up to use by learning piano by myself. I can play extremely fast if I have to play on the same octave but I still have to work on moving my hand precisely from one place to another on the piano.

  28. This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something
    that helped me. Thanks a lot!

  29. […] word. For those not competing in Guinness World Record challenges, the median typing speed is about 30-40 words per minute and the median speaking speed is, again, three times that, about 120 words per minute. The ratio is […]

  30. Yashrat Says:

    Im only 9 and I can type at 67 words perminute. That is my record\

  31. Maxis Toga Says:

    120 is near “physically impossible”… really? The key (no pun intended) to fast typing is to treat words as words and not as single letters, memorising the sequence of finger movements that make up the word so it comes out on the fingers like playing a chord. For example, if I’m just typing the word “mother”, I can do it at around 17cps – which comes out to 204wpm, but if I’m typing “but” repeatedly, it goes down to only 9cps or 108wpm. If I try with “but mother”, I get 16.2cps, or 194wpm. As further evidence that fast typists think in words and not letters, give any one a random string of letters and they’ll slow down significantly.

    Maybe it is impossible to type fast if your typing strategy is to break words into individual letters and you have to think things like “the – t, h, e” every single time you type a word…

  32. Miranda Says:

    We also have to consider the fact that this post was made back in 2007, so standards were probably lower back then. That being said, a WPM of 120 is by no means physically impossible. I just took an online typing test for a job, and managed a WPM of 95, with an average of two corrected words per minute (Not words with typos in them, words that I had gone back to and corrected before moving on.)

    Honestly, the article sounds an awful lot like the author is trying to justify some kind of slow-typing-speed tragedy that occurred in his/her life. As terrible as that may be, the data is clearly outdated and no longer relevant.

  33. Anonymous Says:

    I find it hard to believe some of the comments on this site. In the study above 0 in 3475 tested typists exceeded 110 wpm while nearly 1 in 5 of the comments above claim to have topped that no problem. Really guys? If you’re going to claim that you can exceed 110 wpm in a valid typing test then you should at least throw in a link to a YouTube video showing you actually do that if you expect to be taken seriously.

  34. Anonymous Says:

    I’m 16 yrs old and took 1 semester of typing. My peak is 93 wpm and my average is 76 wpm.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    I have been typing for 22 years and can now type 106 wpm with 100% accuracy. I took a typing class in middle school, and upon completion of the class I was typing about 35 wpm with 100% accuracy, using correct fingering and going by touch. Since then, my typing speed has consistently increased. In 10 years, my typing speed increased to 82 wpm. Another decade later and I can now type 106 wpm with 100% accuracy. The online typing test I use requires mistakes to be corrected as you go, so the typing speed is automatically adjusted for 100% accuracy. Also, I saw a while back (in the ’80’s) there was an elderly woman who held the world record typing speed at 140-something wpm. She had been a secretary all her life. So not impossible…

    • Margaret Says:

      The article did not say it was impossible to type 120 wpm, it said “nearly impossible.” Nearly impossible would imply that 120 wpm can be achieved but is uncommon….your comparison to a world record of 140 wpm justifies the author’s claim. World records are achievable but they are rare – that is why they are called World Records!🙄

  36. […] to this test I type about 60-65 words a minute, which is above average, but it’s not exceptional and I’m pretty sure in high school I was typing about the same […]

  37. Because I’m usually typing my thoughts, I just need to type at the speed of thought.

    • I am a much more extreme case and had to throw in my 2 cents when I saw : ). I currently do an average of about 155-160 on most standard 2 minute test This equates to about 5 words a second sometimes, or the sme as a very fast rate of speech verbally. I wish there were still a ton of job opportunities but there arent lol, closed captioning and medical transcription which ive heard is redundant (makes sense). I can break over 200 when it is slang and words that we use daily, and on real tough test I can go down to like 130s (where the test is based around literature and is packed with punctuation). I am such an extreme case that when I was 10 years old my middle school would not allow me to take keyboarding, as someone else surely needed it more and I had to take other electives. Still to this date have not met someone who can keep up, and I just added the winner of the USA typing championships to my facebook, as to hopefully one day meet my match : )

  38. mgpensar Says:

    Why words per minute instead of chars per minute ? Words varies in length so it does not make sense to me to use WPM as a unit for typing speed. In my opinion it should be CPM, chars per minute. Or am I missing something here ?

    • They do all calculations giving the a WORD the weight of 4 characters. The reason for this is most words are, and especially most transitives and such that we use regularly. They use characters per minute on the ten key, because they have to but since they talk about essays and such, novels by words or pages, going down to the character wouldnt be as effective for memory.

  39. lalan kumar mandal Says:

    typing speep ko kise badhaya ja sakta hi

  40. […] to this test I type about 60-65 words a minute, which is above average, but it’s not exceptional and I’m pretty sure in high school I was typing about the same […]

  41. Anonymous Says:

    I have 167 Wpm

  42. Victor Mangraviti Says:

    As a non-English native speaker, I get a problem as I live in Britain. Keyboard layouts are a pain. I can average about 70 wpm on a UK extended keyboard while I can type about 100 wpm with a Brazilian ABNT2 keyboard. I do change the layout at the OS level but still, some keys are difficult to hit, especially the question mark, plus and minus and some punctuation.
    And I also developed CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) that slowed me down a lot – as well as making my hands feel numb every half hour or so.

  43. thisisaname Says:

    6% error is 6% of keystrokes, not 6% of words. That means something closer to once every FOUR words.

  44. Currently I can type nearly 55-60 words per minute with 98% accuracy. I think for an ordinary blogger this is an handsome speed.

  45. […] How Fast Do People Type? (2007) 3 by userbinator | 0 comments on Hacker News. […]

  46. […] How Fast Do People Type? (2007) 3 by userbinator | 0 comments on Hacker News. […]

  47. […] How Fast Do People Type? (2007) 3 by userbinator | 0 comments on Hacker News. […]

  48. […] How Fast Do People Type? (2007) 3 by userbinator | 0 comments on Hacker News. […]

  49. […] How Fast Do People Type? (2007) 11 by userbinator | 9 comments on Hacker News. […]

  50. Anonymous Says:

    I’m able to type about 65-70 wpm with 99% accuracy. This changes occasionally though as I frequently type from my thought. If I was given a challenge to type as many sensible sentences as possible within a minute, my speed could drastically change within a matter of seconds, say 95 to possibly 100 wpm.

  51. Anonymous Says:

    fuck u all liers

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Presently, my typing speed is a solid 71 wpm. The thing is, I develop a sense of apprehension in my mind that prevents me from exceeding greater speeds. For instance, i’m best described as a logophile. I tend to articulate the English language too excessively, Therefore, my competence of typing lowers tremendously. To this day, I execute improvising my muscle memory to provide a more efficient way of typing. This is a technique professional typer’s use, regardless of their wording.

  53. sandesh Says:


  54. caliallye Says:

    Thank you. I just had the experience of typing something for a friend. She knew I had just had shoulder surgery and still have more to go, but she didn’t feel I was typing quickly enough, and I was making errors…. an artifact of my right arm being slower than my left, but still only around 4-5% as I tried to adjust my speed to my right arm. (I might add that I had been a classical pianist, used to playing whole sonatas etc without error, or noticeable ones) I had told her she could even pay be just $15, as I knew I couldn’t type as quickly as I used to. In fact, she was trying to dictate to me, and would often get lost. I still feel badly about “failing” her, but this is good information for me. I’m not going to speak to her about it, but I wil probably point this out to others who have been thinking they good get a “good” rate out of me while I am recovering!

    • caliallye Says:

      PS: I also “feel” the mistake and correct it. I wondered at the time if I should just go on, but it’s kind of an instinct that I developed during grad school and I’m not certain if I could break it….lol!

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