The DVORAK Keyboard Layout
Still pretending your computer is a mechanical typewriter?!?
The standard American keyboard is designed to slow you down. Why? The
original mechanical keyboards kept jamming for two reasons: people typed
too fast, and keys which were often used close together were located near
each other (and so the print heads would collide). Both causes were
treated by the design of the QWERTY keyboard: it spreads out
commonly-used key combinations, and it slows you down.
QWERTY vs. Dvorak
You're probably using a QWERTY keyboard now. Look at where the most
commonly used letters in the English language -- E, T, A, O, I, and N --
are positioned. With the exception of A, none are in the "home row" where
you rest your fingers; you have to reach for them. Now check out the
Dvorak keyboard layout:
This keyboard was designed after computers (and modern electric
typewriters) rendered obsolete QWERTY's reason for existence. It's
designed for typing speed and efficiency. For example, you can type the
sentence "This is a test" entirely without moving your fingers from the
It's too late for me...
Many people, especially those who are already good QWERTY typists, think
that it will be too difficult to learn a new keyboard layout. Not so! I
typed on a QWERTY layout for years at about 50 words per minute before I
decided to learn Dvorak, and it was only a matter of weeks before my
Dvorak rate matched or exceeded my QWERTY rate. It's much easier than
learning to type the first time, because most of your typing skill
transfers to the new layout. Now (about a year later), I can use either
keyboard -- but I strongly prefer Dvorak.
To learn Dvorak, I recommend you use a typing tutor. I've heard that most
commercial typing tutors fail to support Dvorak properly. However, there
are some good freeware/shareware typing tutors. Mac users should check
To Type, a shareware typing tutor that does a great job of teaching
both Qwerty and Dvorak. There's also
Typing Tutor, and
Bunny's Typing Class; both claim to support Dvorak, though it seems
pretty weak to me. My own little Zippy-Type
will definitely do the job, however.
A shareware DOS typing
tutor by Zijian Huang is also available.
But my computer is QWERTY!
All computers that I know of are set up for QWERTY when they come out of
the box, but that doesn't mean they have to stay that way! You can
rearrange the keyboard, both physically and system-wise, on
Macs, PCs, or
Xwindows machines. More info and handy files
will soon be here.
Links to other Dvorak resources
Join the future -- switch to Dvorak today!
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