How to Type Numbers Faster
By Carol Finch
Entering large volumes of number data can be laborious and time-consuming, especially if you only use a couple of fingers. If you take a little time to learn and practice correct finger placement on your number line or keypad, you'll type numbers faster and more accurately.
Learn Finger Placement on the Number Line
Finger placement on the top number line of your keyboard is the easiest method to master, because you split the 10 number keys, from 0 to 9, in a straight line between your fingers. If you're using a laptop without a number keypad, this is your only option, unless you invest in a standalone number keypad.
Your left hand types the keys 0 through 5 and your right handles 6 through 0. You don't use your thumbs on the number row, as this puts your hands in an uncomfortable position. So, your index fingers cover two numbers to compensate.
Left Hand Finger Positions
- 1 = Little Finger
- 2 = Ring Finger
- 3 = Middle Finger
- 4 and 5 = Index Finger
Right Hand Finger Positions
- 6 and 7 = Index Finger
- 8 = Middle Finger
- 9 = Ring Finger
- 0 = Little Finger
Using the number line to type numbers may be straightforward, but you may find it uncomfortable having to stretch your hands over the keyboard, especially if you're inputting a lot of data, in which case it may be worth switching to the number keypad.
Learn Finger Placement on the Number Keypad
Typing numbers on the keypad at the side of your keyboard or on a standalone 10-key pad may take a little more getting used to, but it may also improve your typing speed and comfort. The keypad is a square of keys rather than a line, and you only use one hand to type. Each finger manages the keys on one vertical line in the square, and you also use your thumb. The positions are:
- 1, 4 and 7 = Index Finger
- 2, 5 and 8 = Middle Finger
- 3, 6 and 9 = Ring Finger
- Enter, "+" and "-" keys = Little Finger
- 0 = Thumb
- Remember to turn the Number Lock key on before you start typing numbers.
- When you start using the keypad, position your fingers across the central line (4, 5, and 6). You can then move them up and down in their rows.
- Your 5 key may have a raised dot or line on it. This is a useful position guide, helping you identify the keypad's central point without looking at the keys.
Practice Typing Numbers
Knowing where to place your fingers may help you type a little faster, but it takes practice to really boost your speed. Ideally, you want to get to the stage where you type quickly and naturally without looking at the number keys. You can practice yourself, to start with, by running through numbers in various orders to get a feel for finger positions. However, if you want to reach touch-typing standards, take free online tests.
It's worth starting with drills that improve accuracy by focusing on individual keys or basic combinations. You can move on to tests that use all number/symbol keys to improve your typing speed later.
For example, Typing.com has a number keypad test in its Advanced Course section that starts with one or two numbers in a row and then builds to include other rows and symbols, measuring your words-per-minute rate and accuracy. Although designed for keypad testing, it also works with the number line. The number line and keypad tests on Touchtype.com also give you scores, but its tests force you to correct errors as you go along, which may improve your accuracy. Once you're confident with positioning, you can move on to more complex number/symbol tests, such as the Ten Key test on Learn2Type.com.
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.