It’s harder to catch typos on Dvorak

Filed under: slice,useless @ 23:32

Several months ago, I switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout. On the whole, I’m quite happy about the switch. I’m still a little disjointed when going back and forth between it and QWERTY, but otherwise things are quite smooth.

I do still, however, make a few common typos; I’ll sometimes mix up the following pairs of letters: a and o, e and o, k and x, m and w, and l and s (each pair has adjacent constituents). I’ll also sometimes type characters out of order (presumably because the Dvorak “rhythm” is somewhat different than that at the QWERTY layout).

But I always made lots of typos. It seems, however, that more typos slip through my pinky’s erstwhile diligence at backspace patrol. I believe there are several factors at play here.

  1. I make more typos than before. This explanation is extremely dull. Let us never speak of it again.
  2. I don’t make more typos, I just catch more; I’ve become better at proofing my writing. This explanation I’ve included only for the sake of completeness. I can’t imagine I’m actually any better at proof reading now than a year ago, say.
  3. I don’t yet feel the typos when typing on a Dvorak keyboard (as I do on QWERTY) and so must depend on my eyes to catch them. This would be related to my relative lack of comfort with Dvorak’s “rhythm”.
  4. And finally, I treat vowels and consonants differently. Most of the single character typos I make swap two vowels. When proof reading, it seems harder for me to catch the difference between “color” and “coler” than between “color” and “colwr”. This is interesting. Two possibilities come to mind. To work backward, the second possibility is that the letters a o and e, in their respective lower case forms, look somewhat similar: round (as opposed to the letters o and w). Indeed, the consonants I swap most often also have some sort of “shape similarity”: w and m, and k and x. I don’t think this can be the whole story, though. Continuing backward, the first possibility is that I only read the consonants and that the vowels act mostly as placeholders (and as the occasional disambiguators). This possibility I called “first” because I am irrationally attached to it and proclaim it to be “likely” without any data to back me up. Since all the vowels are grouped together on the Dvorak layout, vowel swaps may be more common and (given this “likely” possibility) cause commensurate unnoticed typos. Perhaps Dr. Language person can comment on the merit of this “I don’t read vowels” possibility.

In any case, I’m not that good at typing, but I never have been. Don’t blame Dvorak.


    Ellen 04.19.2006 @ 17:41

    I’ve been using Dvorak for about 4 years now, and there still exists some typos that I make not because I get the letters mixed up necessarily, but because it just kind of “feels” better to type the word that way. I can’t really come up with any examples right now, but that’s my theory.

    Alexander Schrepfer 07.22.2006 @ 01:44

    I just did a search after reading the last blog and thought that I would add some comments on this as well: It is really frustrating finding that the whole ‘once you learn to ride a bike you’ll never forget’ is something that really has a negative affect when you change something, like your typing. As I said before I had a huge problem with the y and f keys on Dvorak. No matter how much I tried to practice there was a part of my brain that would never give up on where those keys used to be and that was one of the eventual reasons for my switching back to Qwerty. I do notice now that I am on Qwerty that it is not nearly as natural as it once was 2 years ago. I pay way too much attention on where my keys are and it’s not something that I find easy to give up on. I also notice that now that I am watching my typing more and more that I too make more errors. I would say that it’s almost borderline obsession when I mess up and it starts a whole chain reaction of me trying to fix the error. I am not sure if there’s a way to get back to where I was anymore. I have pretty much accepted the fact that I will never be as good as I once was. I am not as quick to start new keys either. Once I am going on sentences I can do pretty well, but if you asked me to hit a key really quickly I have an automatic delay when I have to think about where the key is; unlike before when it was second nature. Also on Dvorak, I have to say, the vowels were horrible. They were so close to each other and I would always mess up on words that had groups of them, like eo, ue, oe, ae, au, etc.. For some reason I could never think of where they were when they came right after each other. On qwerty they are pretty much in the same places too, but they make a lot more sense to me there. My hands are much happier again now that I am on qwerty; now that my left hand is doing most of the work and all of these old ‘learned’ phrases that I’ve typed most of my life can be used again. I think on Dvorak my hands missed typing words like: the, you, and are. I always had this craving on Dvorak to type extra letters, letters in positions that weren’t used anymore on Dvorak. I am glad I switched back. I think looking back using Dvorak for those 2 years was one of the worst decisions I had made in my life. Dvorak would have been wonderful if I learned it when I was 10…. but those 13 years on Qwerty didn’t want to give up.

    MDA 07.26.2006 @ 10:49


    I have found similar problems creeping into my typing, but not to the degree you describe.

    I can type on both layouts reasonably efficiently, but I do still believe I make more typos. I haven’t been on Dvorak for as long as I typed on QWERTY, though. Perhaps they’ll gradually decline. As for speed, I have never been a super fast typist, so the change in speed may not be as noticable to me. The speed decrease from switching was large at first but is now too hard to measure.

    I reasonated most with your point about the vowels. It’s nice that they are all readily accessible, but having them so close together does make it easy to hit the wrong key from time to time.

    All things considered, I’m happy; my typing has not been detrimentally effected. Except late at night. I’ve found that when I get really tired, I type QWERTY regardless of what keyboard I’m on.

    JesseNewst 03.09.2007 @ 01:16

    I wonder , were to find boyfriend to my sister? Joke:)
    My online friends propose this link to use –TOP10 – As for me, I think life is now!!!

    Anonymous 02.18.2010 @ 17:38

    i thought my problems with the letters w m x k may be related to dyslexia..

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