7 Reasons to Switch to the Dvorak Keyboard Layout

7 Reasons to Switch to the Dvorak Keyboard Layout


“Something’s wrong with your keyboard,” a friend borrowing my laptop would say. “When I type, all that comes out is gibberish!”

“Nothing’s wrong with my keyboard,” I would reply with a grin. “It’s the layout on your keyboard that’s wrong!”

What usually follows is a long lecture on how the Dvorak keyboard layout is better than QWERTY in every way.

Click image to enlarge.

My friends usually humor me — this  has happened several times — but I’ll spare you the sermon and make it short. Out of the hundreds of reasons you should switch to Dr. Dvorak’s  layout, here are seven:

1. QWERTY was designed for the typewriter, not the typist.

Christopher Sholes, who invented the typewriter, found that early prototypes of his invention had a mechanical flaw: When he struck neighboring keys in rapid succession, the typewriter jammed. He needed to replace the initial alphabetical layout with one that separated keys often struck successively. Thus the QWERTY layout was born. This did not solve the problem entirely, but it made the machine jam a lot less.

Good for the typewriter. But what about the typist? While QWERTY was designed so that the typewriter could work, Dvorak was designed so that the typist could work well.

2. Dvorak increases your speed.

Typists base their fingers on the home row of the keyboard. If you want to increase typing speed, the home row is where you place the most commonly typed keys. This is exactly what Dr. Dvorak did in his layout — 70% of keystrokes are on the home row; 22% on the top row; 8% on the bottom.

In QWERTY, only 32% of keystrokes are on the home row. Which means most of the time, typists’ fingers are either reaching up for the top row (52%) or down for the bottom row (16%). So not only does QWERTY do nothing for typists, it actually hinders them.

Dvorak further increases typing speed by placing all vowels on the left side of the home row, and the most commonly used consonants on the right side. This guarantees that most of your strokes alternate between a finger on your right hand (consonant) and a finger on your left (vowel). Alternating between fingers from either hand is faster — just imagine texting with one hand or drumming with one stick.

3. Dvorak lessens your mistakes.

Not only is Dvorak faster than QWERTY, it’s also more accurate. Errors occur more when you type away from the home row, or consecutively with the same finger. When you combine the two problems (using the same finger to type consecutive letters not on the home row) you make even more mistakes.

Reaching away from the home row, typing consecutively with the same finger — these happen more often in QWERTY. And so do mistakes.

4. Dvorak is more comfortable and better for your health.

Although its only your fingers that do the extra reaching in QWERTY, the distance adds up. A study compared the distance traveled by the fingers of two typists in performing the same task. In Dvorak, the typists fingers traveled 1.5 km per day; In QWERTY, 30 km per day. This extra distance increases not only the likelihood of errors but the stress on your fingers.

The discomfort is often temporary. But with the amount of typing we do today — plus the prevalence of QWERTY keyboards — it is not uncommon for the pain to progress to repetitive strain injury. Some RSI sufferers have reported some relief from taking breaks, doing stretches, improving posture, and of course, switching to Dvorak.

5. Switching to Dvorak is easier than ever.

Studies have shown that Dvorak is easier to learn than QWERTY. If you already touchtype with QWERTY, it’s even easier, because you already have the finger coordination needed for touchtyping. There are online resources on learning Dvorak and a ton of typing games for practice.

But where do you get the keyboards? Today, keyboards with the Dvorak layout (or that can switch to Dvorak) are available if you wish to buy one. But you won’t even have to. Most operating systems allow users to make Dvorak their default keyboard layout. You can also make it easy to switch between layouts, but trust me — you won’t want to.

6. Dvorak is cool.

Aside from getting friends and coworkers to type gibberish on your computer (a useful security measure, by the way) Dvorak has other cool benefits. Using Dvorak puts you in an exclusive club — like having a Mac instead of a PC. But aside from mere prestige, you can flaunt your productivity and the ease with which you attain it.

You’ll also be in the company of some cool people, including Bram Cohen, inventor of BitTorrent; Matt Mullenweg, lead developer of WordPress; and Barbara Blackburn, world’s fastest typist.

7. Using Dvorak is a noble cause.

Dr. Dvorak created something great, but he died in vain.

“I’m tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race,” he said, realizing his failure to convince people to adopt his layout. “They simply don’t want to change!”

QWERTY has remained the default keyboard layout for over a century. It has outlived the purpose for which it was designed, yet its weaknesses still remain. By switching to Dvorak, you are joining a movement that empowers typists and honors the legacy of a great man.


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Red Tani writes, designs, and consults for Redvisory, a communications consultancy he started in 2009. A former systems analyst, video game hacker, and Counter Strike sniping champion, he does all his computing a la Dvorak.
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Discussion

  1. James on the 20th August

    I’d be concerned that I’d lose the ability to type (quickly) on a QWERTY keyboard, which would hamper my ability to work on machines that I didn’t own.

    • Mike Grace on the 20th August

      That’s a fair concern but one that can be taken care of. I have several friends that use both Dvorak and QWERTY and does just fine at both. I haven’t put any time or effort into keeping up my QWERTY skills so I don’t do fine when I use a machine where I can’t change the keyboard layout but it hasn’t been a problem for me yet. So in the end it all depends on you and how often you are going to be using computers that aren’t your own.

    • Rob on the 23rd August

      I switched about four years ago and never looked back, which was my mistake. If I’d kept up using QWERTY I’m sure I’d be able to switch back and forth but as it is today I hunt and peck much to the amusement of friends and family.

    • Dave on the 26th August

      I think this should also be considered. This is an article describing in detail why the Dvorak keyboard failed and why it may not be superior.

      http://reason.com/archives/1996/06/01/typing-errors

      A long read, but well worth it.

    • Austin on the 26th September

      I agree. That would kinda suck. I can already type pretty fast, and WITHOUT LOOKING. I don’t think I would like switching.

    • Alex G on the 15th November

      I’m actually in the process of learning Dvorak now. Started about 2 weeks ago and 2 nights ago I wrote 3 essays using it easily. The speed will come with time, but it’s getting there pretty quickly. As far as switch time goes, it doesn’t take long, however I am not doing a full transition because I still use QWERTY at school, so it takes a little longer to learn if you continue to use QWERTY on the side.
      As far as maintaining the ability to use QWERTY goes, I typed up a few essays at school on one the other day. At first it feels foreign to work on the QWERTY board, but after a few sentences I was typing at my old speed. Therefore it is reasonable to say that so long as you occasionally use QWERTY, you’ll be able to transfer between layouts with ease. (I must say, though, that although you will still be able to use QWERTY easily, you won’t want to because you’ll realize how much more work your fingers are doing and how inefficient the layout is.)

    • Jonathan on the 24th January

      Dave, about that article… I read it and it seems like a lot of fluff. They say there’s no evidence that DVORAK is better but it is absolute fact that we do much more typing on the dvorak keyboard in the home row than in the other rows. If that isn’t more ergonomic, then I guess I have no clue what ergonomic means (and I’m being sarcastic; I have arm, wrist, back and neck problems; being a grad. student and taking on teaching jobs on the side has basically destroyed my body). It’s not that dvorak is the best in the world, but it’s the best layout out there if we assume that we’re stuck with the current shape and position of the keys and keyboard (Not that we should be!!!! I have a split, splayed and tented keyboard, for example, but even THAT can be improved further). Not having to do awkward reaches is nice, and I don’t see how that’s arguable. That article mostly blathered about other stuff like whether or not it’s true that QWERTY was designed to slow you down or whether or not these typing contests really took place… Relevant to their discussion, perhaps, but NOT relevant to the guestion of whether or not dvorak is faster or healthier. (And as for the focus of THEIR discussion, I find it just idiotic that they’d say that dvorak had a fair chance and must have lost out being it wasn’t as good; obviously it is true that QWERTY has the foothold and dvorak just can’t butt in. It’s also dumb of them to claim that the adoption of simlar keyboards by other countries somehow proves the superior of qwerty. They adopted it because people tend to take the pah of least resistance, that’s all!) It felt like that article was written by people with a weird bone to pick.

    • Ander on the 15th August

      That’s what everybody says. But the fact is, every modern OS has the ability to toggle keyboard layouts built-in, and has for years now—so no self-respecting geek has an excuse to stay in the Keyboard Stone Age. Cheers, A.

    • Joshua Redman on the 1st September

      James I though a similar thing when I switched. It indeed did slow down my typing speed on QWERTY machines significantly at first because I was not using them at all. But after I started to use both keyboard languages again my speed on QWERTY machines went back to almost my old typing speed. However I cannot remember where the O is for some reason.

    • rudy on the 13th March

      This has always been the issue for, me, Dvorak lost the race a long time ago and except for rare cases of typing professionals I think it is now a disservice to society to keep trying to switch people over to his keyboard. There are many things in life that we do that might be wrong or inefficient, like the English measurement system and the very communications we do over email but the fact is they are standard and it is their standard that makes them efficient for society as a whole.

      If there existed any small chance that one day dvorak could become the main keyboard layout that is standard I would say ok, maybe but the fact is there is no small chance, with mobile devices coming into prominence the dvorak layout is no longer a concern, and qwerty won the war hard and fast a long time ago.

      At this point in time I now consider Dvorak proponents to be selfish people who are not willing to overlook their own esoteric habits and desires for the good of the whole.

  2. Daisy on the 20th August

    I was wondering if the statistics for this article are for english language only or universal?

    When I look at the layout, the consonants used in the home row are not all of the most common in my language (example R & G are used a lot).

    I might give it a try on a boring weekend and see how well I do.

    • Mike Grace on the 20th August

      My guess is that it is for english only since it was developed after analyzing patterns in the english language.

    • Renato Golin on the 22nd August

      That’s the point, you’ll need a “dvorak-like” keyboard for every language. I think that the French AZERTY keyboard sucks because of that. While I can type on American, English and Portuguese keyboards, I just can’t do anything on the French.

      Any standard will have its flaws, but a standard that relies on a specific language will have less flaws on its native language and a lot more on any other.

      I don’t think too many people will ever change. Most typists simply don’t care (fixing errors is far easier in a computer than it was in the typewriter), or are too old for new tricks or, as was said before, don’t want to get their passwords wrong on standard keyboards.

      If you want to loook cool, use the Das Keyboard… ;)

    • Marc on the 22nd August

      There are ‘localized’ dvorak for many languages. French one is called ‘bépo’, for instance. The speed increase is the same, and the problem similar: default layout is ‘azerty’, not qwerty. So for work I have to be able to use all three, instead of two.

      The repartition of letters varies greatly between languages.

      Bépo : http://bepo.fr/wiki/Accueil

    • Marcos Toledo on the 23rd August

      I’m a dvorak typist, and fluent in portuguese, spanish and english. Although dvorak is probably optimized for typing in english, typing in these other languages is still *very* comfortable, probably just as comfortable as typing in english.

      At the same time, I’m pretty sure that even if dvorak wasn’t optimized for your own language, having a layout in which the top row was created to spell ‘typewriter’ (‘qwertyuiop I’m looking at you’) is probably even worse.

    • Vivian on the 18th July

      Dvorak may be optimized for English, but just the fact that it’s got all the vowels on the home row should make it an improvement on QWERTY (which has only one vowel on its home row). There aren’t too many languages that don’t use vowels.

  3. Interesting debate.

    I am just confused now.

  4. G-Hien on the 20th August

    Interesting. I’ll try Dvorak layout soon, but at the moment while playing with QWERTY I still feel comfortable, maybe the cause is English isn’t my primary use.
    ps: If Dvorak is widely used, Workawesome must change the recent header image. :p

  5. Mike Grace on the 20th August

    I LOVE USING DVORAK!!!!! I made the switch over a year ago and I haven’t regretted it. It truly is amazing how much more comfortable it is to type with dvorak. Glad to see a reputable site promoting the use of dvorak. Keep sharin’ the love!

    • Brian Landi on the 20th August

      @mike Approximately how long did it take you to learn DVORAK and rival your QWERTY speed? I currently type between 60 and 90 wpm in QWERTY depending on my engagement level. Thanks!

    • Marcos Toledo on the 23rd August

      Jumping in, it took me 3 weeks to be able to work daily with dvorak, probably a couple of months before I was typing ~60wpm mark.

  6. Kuswanto on the 20th August

    Interesting…

    What about other language? Is Dovark friendly for non english language?
    My day is half writing in english and half in Bahasa Indonesia.

  7. Thera on the 20th August

    I still prefer my “AZERTY” keyboard when I have the choice (even if my colleagues all use “QWERTZ” which is almost the same as “QWERTY”, so it’s always annoying when I have to type something on someone else’s computer), it’s more coder-friendly to me than the american layout.

    As for dvorak, I appreciate the idea, but I’m pretty confortable on azerty, I doubt I’d change.

  8. bartaz on the 20th August

    I tried dvorak some time ago and I can tell you that time needed to learn it is not really worth the benefits, if you already type fast on qwerty.

    The biggest problem with dvorak keybard layout is that all the hotkeys your fingers remember like Ctrl+C Ctrl+V are gone, so bye bye ease of use.
    The other thing is that anyone who would like to use your keyboard will be totally lost (for someone this may be a benefit) and also you used to dvorak will find it harder to use qwerty again on any other machine.

    If you want to invest some time in making your typing faster and more efficient, just practice more on qwerty keyboard.

    • Roberto on the 24th August

      I totally agree with you! The cost of implementing such a change is not worth the benefit.

    • grace lorraine on the 1st January

      bartaz, item 4 really has all the motive anybody needs, who does lots of typing….. Can it matter how fast we type, if we fail to avoid repetitive strain injury? Does it make much sense to persist in a faulty design? Do you really think the intelligent choice is using the outdated layout? Do you insist on ounces, cups, quarts, gallons and pounds, too?:)

      I switched to Dvorak a few years ago and i use the keyboard shortcuts; in my experience, your comment “so bye bye ease of use” is not an accurate assessment. On the computer at work i have a button in the tray that switches to Dvorak for me, back to the slow and debilitating other, for anyone else who needs to use that machine.

      “Just more practice” on the layout NOT designed for speedy typing is counter productive, unless the typist ONLY uses computers that belong to somebody else….

  9. D Fulton on the 20th August

    Ah but is Dovrak still correct? It was patented in 1936 before the era of the computer. It is based on the probability of typing a character. Have those probabilities changed?

    Also certain types of jobs may have better keyboard layouts. Journalists probably would still benefit from the Dovrak layout but programmers may find some characters changed out due to the frequent use of some characters.

    Is minimizing your finger travel distance actually healthier? Accelerating your repetitions and minimizing the distance your tendons move may not be good.

    Just a thought.

  10. Bret Juliano on the 20th August

    I never even knew any other type of keyboards besides QWERTY existed.

  11. Chad Kettner on the 20th August

    Interesting. If I was learning how to type right now, I’d probably be interested in the Dvorak. But since I already type 70-80wpm with QWERTYY, I don’t see much need for change.

    And interesting comment about hotkeys. It would be really annoying to be searching for all the patterns that were designed with QWERTY in mind, such as CTRL-P, CTRL-C, CTRL-V, etc…

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Those Keys can be re-mapped in software to be where you expect them to be or learn the Fn key strokes that do not change with keyboard layout.

  12. Jimmy Bowman on the 20th August

    With OSX, you have the option of using Dvorak keyboard but having your standard functions still in QWERTY.

    • Jimmy Bowman on the 20th August

      By standard functions, I mean the apple key commands (command+c, command+v, etc.)

    • Alfred Low on the 24th August

      It seems that this is one area that Macs are clearly more advanced that Windows (or at least WinXP). I tried remapping keyboard shortcuts when switching over to DVORAK but it all ended in tears – WinXP (and Windows software) just makes it hard.

  13. Anthony on the 20th August

    Seems live the QWERTY vs Dvorak problem is very similar to Windows vs Mac OS and Internet Explorer vs pretty much any other browser…CLEARLY there are much much better ways to do things these days but people are just rigidly stuck in their ways much like a rabbit caught in the headlights. It’d serve the rabbit better to move but it’s just too scared and so suffers the impending doom!

    I digress…Seems like the Dvorak layout might be worth a try at the very least. I do notice myself reaching for keys an awful lot while using QWERTY and sometimes more recently I’ve notice it causing my wrist(s) to hurt on days where I’ve been typing more than usual.

    The change probably wouldn’t be too much worse than changing from a PC to a MAC keyboard layout which I did years ago.

    Nice article, thanks a lot!

    • Tyler on the 24th August

      This is not true. Dvorak is clearly better than QWERTY in every way. The problem here with using Dvorak is that QWERTY keyboards are still very common.

  14. Thera on the 20th August

    Quickly looking at the layout of the dvorak keyboard in this article, it looks quite unfriendly to programmers: symbols like ( ) [ ] $ or ! all require uppercase.

    I am now 100% sure I’m not leaving my azerty for that thing, sorry.

    (also, there are no arrows or the numeric pad ?)

    • Marcos Toledo on the 23rd August

      There’s a ‘Programmer Dvorak’ layout which solves this (I prefer regular dvorak for programming tho)

      http://www.kaufmann.no/roland/dvorak/

    • JimbO on the 25th August

      No they don’t – only the braces () require shifting to enter them, and there’s no difference between US QWERTY and DVORAK in that respect. I’m guessing (without doing any research whatsoever) that AZERTY has a different layout for those symbols?

  15. Luis on the 20th August

    Well that really seems like an awesome “hack”! I will try it soon, not afraid of change, although the different layout might be a bit confusing without a real dvorak keyboard….

    • Alfred Low on the 24th August

      I’ve been trying to buy a “real” DVORAK keyboard but the few that I’ve found (and they were scarce and hard to find) were prohibitively expensive. So I just ended up relabelling my existing QWERTY keyboard with adhesive labels in the DVORAK pattern. Not optimal but a cheap way to do it.

    • Matt on the 19th November

      Actually, what I have done is to pop the keys off of an extra keyboard and just place them where they would go on a Dvorak kayboard. A LOT less expensive from what I saw. The only “issue” I had with my keyboard, is that the “F” and “J” keys had a different little “mini-tab” thing on the keyboard itself, which I just scraped off with a flat head screw driver. Now it works like a charm! (now just to find the time to learn how to use it! LOL!)

  16. Joe Ferguson on the 21st August

    Sorry to be a pain. But QWERTY was not used to reduce typewriter jams.

    A recent study has shown that the QWERTY layout is ineffective at reducing jams when you look at the most popular letter pairs in English.

    “TH HE AN RE ER IN ON AT ND ST ES EN OF TE ED OR TI HI AS TO” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_frequency

    Particularly when you consider the proximity of the letters E and R on a QWERTY keyboard.

    If I find the article that references the particular study, I’ll post it here at a later date.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Not that it was ineffective but it is not as effective as another layout can be.

      Still, with only 26 letters, there are only so many combinations you can come up with in a three-row layout. perhaps intermingling the numbers on the fourth row with letters….

      The Qwerty keyboard was indeed designed to reduce (not stop) jamming and it was proven effective in its task. The fact that it was not the most effective layout to reduce jamming does not mean that that was not the purpose of the design.

  17. Max on the 21st August

    What about Colemak? Colemak keeps the most commonly used shortcuts in place (Ctrl+V, Ctrl+C, etc.). It has much more in common with Qwerty than Dvorak does, so it is easier to learn. Apparently people who have switched from Dvorak to Colemak say it *helped* them type Qwerty when they weren’t on their own computers. Colemak is also slightly more efficient than Dvorak. If you are a programmer, Colemak is a MUST over Dvorak, too.

    • JJ on the 27th August

      In addition, colemak has one very nice feature of mapping backspace to the caps lock key, which is much more convenient for small fast corrections without moving your hands out of their position…

    • Daniel on the 21st April

      I love colemak. My typing speed raised 20%, and I think it would be a lot more if you counted all those backspace hits.
      Too bad that we live in a querty world, and switching from keyboard to keyboard gives me troubles. I can not type on a querty the first 10 seconds without looking down. As soon as I look away from the keyboard my fingers start typing Colemak again ;)

  18. Gayle Laakmann on the 21st August

    The Dvorak myth is widely believed, but a myth nonetheless. Qwerty was not designed to slow down typing, though it was designed to reduce collisions. Those are different things.

    Dvorak designed a new keyboard, faked the research to show that his keyboard was faster, and then destroyed all evidence.

    Follow up studies have shown over and over again that Dvorak is not any faster than Qwerty, and may even be slower.

    Google ‘Dvorak myth’ for a bunch of articles about this.

    So all you’re doing by switching to Dvorak is slowing yourself down during the switch, frustrating friends who want to use your company, labeling yourself as a gullible geek, and, of course, perpetuating a old wives tale :).

    • Naruki Bigglesworth on the 24th August

      I think the author of this article and many of the commenters have never read the Straight Dope.

      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/221/was-the-qwerty-keyboard-purposely-designed-to-slow-typists

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      I think you just gave us the myths yourself. Re-read the article.

      To begin with, the object of the QWERTY keyboard was to separate keys that often occurred together. This did have the disadvantage of greater finger movement to type those key combinations which may not necessarily slow down the typist but it created greater effort in typing.

      No study has shown that Dvorak is faster and no study has shown Dvorak is slower. What studies have shown is that Dvorak has reduced finger movements and made typing easier with a reduced chance of RSI.

      Google “Dvorak facts” for a bunch of articles about that.

      If you already type 60+ wpm, enjoy your current keyboard layout but if your typing speed is atrocious, switching to Dvorak is likely to increase your speed (and studies do show that). Indeed, if you hunt and peck, switching to an alphabetic layout will increase your speed.

      Studies actually show that people who cannot type but are used to texting on a T9 keyboard text slower on the full QWERTY layout of the Blackberry. This does not mean that the QWERTY keyboard is less effective than the T9 keyboard. It just shows that switching from what one is used to will take some time to adjust.

  19. Geoffrey Spear on the 21st August

    But how am I supposed to play Nethack effectively on a Dvorak keyboard?

  20. Dru on the 21st August

    There is dvorak version for programmers, with all of special characters easily reachable.
    Also to those who wrote, that they are already fast enough – the idea behind this layout is to write faster, so if you can write X wpm, using dvorak layout you would write Y wpm, where Y>X. And probably change wouldn’t be so hard.
    I know I think about trying out dvorak layout, however since english isn’t my main language im not sure how much i would benefit from this.
    And, apart from dvorak layout for programmers – there are layouts based on dvorak’s idea for other languages, just look for it.

  21. john on the 21st August

    the “superiority” of dvorak is basically an urban legend

    http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html

    • Sam on the 22nd August

      > the “superiority” of dvorak is basically an urban legend
      >
      > http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/keys1.html

      (Not?) surprisingly, the linked article has been debunked many times mainly because it focuses on economics rather than technical advantages. I can’t remember where though… :(

    • john on the 22nd August

      i wish i could be shocked that you can’t remember where.

      economics is only one section of the fairly extensive article, which appears to be well researched and which has many references to source material, which i encourage people to examine themselves. it is written from the standpoint of analyzing whether a market failure occurred in the case of keyboard layout selection, but the analysis involved is functionally agnostic.

      most importantly, i encourage people to ask themselves why no one is giving references to well done studies proving this supposed superiority. surely, if dvorak really is a superior layout, there would be at least some data proving that beyond reasonable doubt. instead, we have the original, extremely flawed study run by dvorak himself (and its flawed followup), and a lot of hand waving about “awkward finger motions” and “finger-movement distances”. until someone comes forward with a methodologically sound study showing clearly a significant advantage for the dvorak layout, there is no reason to think that claims for such an advantage are sound.

      unfortunately, proponents of dvorak continue to repeat the same unproven “facts” over and over in hopes that they stick, much like proponents of any other woo (see homeopathy, acupuncture, healing crystals, etc), so i am not hopeful that we will see such a study any time soon.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      The very study you linked shows that what this article says is true.

      Your link agrees that the home keys are used more. Your link agrees that the hands are more evenly weighted. Your link agrees that the stronger fingers are used more than the weaker fingers. your link agrees that the fingers move less in Dvorak.

      This article agrees that for an accomplished touch-typist, there will be no increase of speed.

      Your article does not make any attempt to debunk whether there is a reduction in RSI (as such a study may take years of following at least a couple thousand typists, 1k on QWERTY and 1k on Dvorak to be statistically relevant).

      The truth is that early studies do tend to lend credence to the reduction of RSI from the use of the Dvorak keyboard (although no control experiments have yet been conducted to show this).

      The superiority in speed for expert typists of the Dvorak is basically an urban legend but the advantages on the reduction of RSI seems to be supported by early studies and its reduced learning curve for new typists seems to be probable. Your article does not dispute these.

  22. tudza on the 21st August

    When typewriters were first being marketed to business, there were several competing layouts. Typewriter companies supplied typists trained on their particular layout. There were speed tests done all the time. QWERTY won out.

    From the articles I’ve read, I’m not certain if QWERTY was *the* best and therefore won in the end or if it was some combination of good enough and good salesmanship, but the designed-to-be-slow theory just doesn’t seem to be true.

    Recent tests show a *new* typist will benefit from Dvorak, but re-training a good QWERTY typist on the new layout does not show significant benefits.

    So, if you are learning to type, Dvorak may be to your benefit. Otherwise, nope.

    • uz64 on the 17th February

      A few months ago I switched from QWERTY to Dvorak after well over a decade of typing on the standard layout. The improved comfort can be felt as early as about three weeks in, well before you’ve reached your previous average speed. As you move on and get even faster, you wonder just how much energy you needlessly wasted over the years, just how much damage you’ve done to your wrists in the process just typing sentences.

      It’s like riding in a low sports car like a Corvette at, say, 40 MPH, compared to a more “normal” car at 65 MPH. Sure, you may in fact not be going that fast in the Vette, but the way it feels is much better in every way relating to comfort, it doesn’t really matter, and the low body makes it “feel” as if it is going faster than it really is. With Dvorak, even at near my old QWERTY high speeds it doesn’t feel like I’m typing very fast… it’s just that comfortable and effortless. So much less work required.

      The fatigue I used to get in both wrists and extending as pain to my right arm have yet to come back since switching. My average QWERTY speed was probably about 55 WPM, sometimes higher, and my average with Dvorak is now probably in the mid-40s. However, I have reached 50-55 WPM in Dvorak, and it feels absolutely nothing like the same speed in QWERTY. So much less reaching, my hands aren’t all over the board requiring constant re-adjustment, there are almost no irritating hurdles requiring single-hand, same finger jumps over the home row as in the word ‘minimum’. It’s just better.

      With time, I expect my speed and accuracy to improve further… even with QWERTY I didn’t just get them overnight.

  23. Rick on the 21st August

    Hmm, I don’t have any doubt Dvorak may be faster, but how practical is it when the majority of keyboards out there are QWERTY?

    I suppose my question would be: could you effectively switch back and forth from typing on a QWERTY and DVORAK layouts (aimed at ppl who use many different computers daily, most of which aren’t their own)?

    • Naruki Bigglesworth on the 24th August

      You should have doubts.

  24. Jamison on the 21st August

    Why is it that so many are claiming “What about when I use another computer?”

    Your keyboard is decided by the SOFTWARE not the HARDWARE. simply change the keyboard type in the OS.

    Takes about 90 seconds.

    Unless you need to see the letters written on the keys to type, in which case none of this applies to you anyway as you aren’t a touch-typist.

  25. Sean Gray on the 21st August

    You cite a lot of statistics in the article, but none that say that using Dvorak typing is any faster than QWERTY.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      The article never said Dvorak is faster for a seasoned typist. Indeed, the article admits that for a seasoned typist, there may be no speed benefit at all. But the article gave seven reasons to switch (the last one not a killer for me). So if you are an accomplished typist, consider the the five other reasons to switch and weigh them. If you are not an accomplished typist, consider the six.

      The seventh? Whatever.

  26. markus on the 21st August

    What do you do on notebooks? There are no dvorak layouts for notebooks afaik.
    And typing blind is just much harder if there are the wrong keys on the keyboard.

    I tried a blank keyboard…. is noch much better…

    • Alfred Low on the 24th August

      See Jamison’s comment, which I qoute “Your keyboard is decided by the SOFTWARE not the HARDWARE. simply change the keyboard type in the OS. “

  27. Rick W on the 22nd August

    I can type 100 wpm comfortably with a qwerty keyboard. Maybe I could do 130 with a Dvorak, eventually, but the effort to reprogram my brain isn’t worth it to me.

    This is a solution in search of a problem, methinks — which is why it never caught on. The world would not be a better place if people could type faster.

    I believe it is more likely that voice-to-text will effectively replace the qwerty keyboard, than the Dvorkak model.

    • munch on the 12th July

      That’s what they said about the laser when it first came out, too. Look what has happened since then.

  28. Virginie on the 22nd August

    I’ll give it a try, but do you think it can work for french ?

  29. John on the 22nd August

    Very interested in this, but can’t seem to find a decent one to buy, or even a sticker set!!

  30. alexandru on the 22nd August

    Many UNIX programmers will shoot themselves with a Dvorak layout. Vim and Emacs are setup for QWERTY keyboard.

    • Douglas on the 24th August

      I am a unix programmer, use a dvorak layout, and work in vi and emacs every day of my working life. I don’t have any problems at all.

      Once you retrain your mind to where the appropriate letters are, it’s the same as if you’re using a QWERTY layout.

      Of course, those times when I use emacs on a QWERTY layout now, I find myself typing “Alt-.” when I’m meaning to type “Alt-v” :)

      As for switching back and forth, I have no trouble using my netbook or my wife’s computer (both non-dvorak layouts).

      As for why I made the switch? I was finding that my wrists were in tremendous pain by the end of the work day. After switching to Dvorak, the pain went away and I haven’t had it since.

  31. Silvia on the 22nd August

    No way. Tried it for a few months many years ago, never worked for me.

    • JapanYoshi777 on the 30th July

      If it didn’t work for the first time you may have made a mistake on how to switch. It works for most people who aren’t really used to QWERTY. If you hunt-and-peck or type slowly looking at the letters on the keys, Dvorak can help you learn to touch-type. It helped ME increase my typing speed (and finish school essays quickly). Help for learning Dvorak is in dvzine.org. Yes it did reduce the pain in my fingers. And as for switching back and forth, I used an iPad to type this, and if you’re a Dvorak typer you’ll be frustrated that iPad doesn’t support Dvorak. It hurts, but it’s fine.

  32. John on the 23rd August

    I would have given this a try till you said it was cool like a mac…… now cool like linux and i am in.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      What about cool like UNIX?

  33. Jake on the 23rd August

    I am a little worried about all of the virtual keyboards I use. As I increasingly type on my mobile devices like cell phones, internet tablet, ereaders, etc. I am using more and more software keyboards that are impossible to change the layout of. There may be some benefit to using a DVORAK layout, but I am finding myself using a regular keyboard less and less… only when I am doing serious tasks like programming and video editing do I get on a computer. And programming? DVORAK seems to be a pain to use for that. And it’d through my muscle memory for a huge loop with all the CLI apps that I use. ;)

    • Jeff on the 24th August

      When I try switching to dvorak, I love programming because the braces are so much easier to get to.

    • uz64 on the 17th February

      On small touchscreen systems with onscreen software keyboards, any layout designed for traditional physical desktop keyboards is a joke. Not just QWERTY, but even Dvorak and Colemak. I don’t know who’s genius idea it was to do such an absurd thing instead of just going back to the drawing board and actually designing something specifically for these devices, but if you have Android, check out a keyboard called MessagEase.

      Similar to a number pad, it has nine large, easy-to-hit squares and a spacebar, with each square containing one of the most-used letters in English (A,N,I,H,O,R,T,E,S). Just tap a square for one of those letters, or drag in a certain direction for one of the other, less-common letters or symbols. The squares are already nice and large to improve speed and accuracy, but the program is highly customizable and allows changing the size or even setting it up for two-finger/hand use. There is a game available for learning and practice also.

      I tend to avoid “typing” on such systems myself unless required (I’ll take a *real* keyboard and monitor any day), but now that I’ve tried it I doubt that I would go back to any other soft keyboard that is effectively a large desktop device crammed onto a tiny screen. From now on, my desktop board will always be Dvorak or Colemak (I intend to learn and be able to use both), and MessagEase will be on any phone or tablet I get.

  34. David Morris on the 23rd August

    There’s a back story to this that is worth reading, poor scientific method, jury rigged tests, no scientific proof of any keyboard layout having any real advantage over others, dubious financial interests, patents way back in the 1940′s:

    http://reason.com/archives/1996/06/01/typing-errors/1

    It’s basic summary is:

    The QWERTY keyboard cannot be said to constitute evidence of any systematic tendency for markets to err. Very simply, no competing keyboard has offered enough advantage to warrant a change. The story of Dvorak’s superiority is a myth or, perhaps more properly, a hoax.

    In April 1990, we published a more detailed version of this material in a Journal of Law and Economics article titled “The Fable of the Keys.” This journal is well known and has published some of the most influential articles in economics. In the six years since we published that article there has been no attempt to refute any of our factual claims, to discredit the GSA study, or to resurrect the Navy study. Unless some new evidence is produced to support a claim of QWERTY’s inferiority to Dvorak, how can it even be said that there are two sides to a legitimate scientific disagreement over the keyboard?

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      From an economical point-of-view.

      The same article also says that it does put more combinations on the home keys, it does do a better job of balancing the use of both hands, it does put more use on the stronger fingers and it does require less movements of the fingers over time.

      Does this make you type faster? No, not really. Does it reduce the time for an non-typist to learn to touch type? Yes, by a small margin but a margin nevertheless. Does it reduce the risk of RSI? Early research tends to support this. (That article was written in 1990 and further research lends even more credence to this).

      All that article shows is that there is no speed increase for an accomplished touch-typist and that there is no economical advantage (save for the possibility of the cost of mitigating RSI) in switching to Dvorak for typing pools in corporate America.

      This article and that article do not conflict.

  35. Jose on the 23rd August

    I’m Spanish who need to type on French German Spanish and English. It seems to me that Dvorak is only useful for Uni-language people like Americans.

    • JapanYoshi777 on the 30th July

      I type in 3 languages myself. For typing Japanese I don’t have that much of a problem except the K. But it is solvable using the C instead. And I like it that the – is easy to reach. As for Spanish, the Q and J keys are hard to reach, yes, but that’s not THaT much of a problem for me. (Of course, whether it’s a problem for YOU is up to you to decide…)

  36. Ali on the 23rd August

    I switched my MacBookPro keyboard to Dvorak (physically moved the keys!) a couple of months ago, while keeping all other computers I work with untouched. While Dvorak is fast, and feels more natural and not that hard to learn and all the good things that people said above, IT IS DESIGNED FOR OLD STYLE TYPING! I mean as a programmer I use lots of applications in which I need keyboard shortcuts and key combinations (I am using the Apple’s modified Dvorak – QWERTY keyboard that switches to qwerty when I hold the command key) yet many key combinations are not that easy on a Dvorak as they are on a qwerty as they are designed for a qwerty keyboard.

    • Jeff on the 24th August

      Didn’t see this before I posted – Keyboard shortcuts don’t feel very good with dvorak, in my opinion.

  37. Iva on the 23rd August

    I am skeptic about this, as I type in five languages.

  38. Dave on the 23rd August

    Is this based on hand orientation?

    I’m noticing with this layout that the vowels and lesser used consonants are all on the left side, and typing would more than likely be dominated by the right hand. I can see this being a problem for lefties.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Good observation.

      By placing all the vowels on the left and the most used consonants on the right, you are more likely to switch between left and right hand for each letter. IE, const, vow, const, vow, const, vow, etc going right, left, right, left, right, etc.

      This is one of the reasons it is easier to type on the Dvorak and reduces RSI. For a lefty, it will still be right, left, right, left, right, left, etc. and so not much of a disadvantage for them. Granted, more consonants than vowels but I do not think it will be prohibitive.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Also, the Dvorak English keyboard is available as Dvorak LH and Dvorak RH so yes, there may be a trade-off for left handers but a left-hand keyboard is available.

    • Karim Hosein on the 30th August

      Actually, the Dvorak RH/LH are for typing with one hand.

      My bad.

  39. Brianm on the 24th August

    Well its a lot better to have somethign everone can use than something that is a little bit more efficient but less universal. Most users are not going to type fast enough to make good use of the Dork sorry Dvorack (slip there oops).

    The real speed kings of the keypoard such as copytypist are going to become somewhat extinct anyway :)

  40. bachterman on the 24th August

    dvorak is nonexistent in hungarian. english only. :(

  41. Chris on the 24th August

    What’s the point of designing a new keyboard layout and keeping the CAPS LOCK key ??

    This is enough to prevent me trying this, despite the natural inclination for such a new device.

    • munch on the 12th July

      You will take my CAPS LOCK key out of my cold, dead hands. What’s your beef with CAPS LOCK anyway? Either get over it, or alter your key map to map it to the CTRL key. Problem solved, either way.

  42. Dan Desjardins on the 24th August

    It seems to me that Dvorak is for people who type (or retype) documents for a living – where speed and errors are an issue.
    For many of us, programming, doing email, writing blogs (shorter ones anyway) I think the added efficiency is just not worth being a penguin at the party. LIke code, not everything needs to be optimised to be perfectly functional – and the language issues will block it from ever really becoming widely accepted. Sadly this is another example of a technology that the world has ignored…
    It’s too late baby now it’s too late – thought it really did try to make it….

    • munch on the 12th July

      If you suffer from RSI and still think Dvorak is all about optimizing for speed, you just might be a red-neck.

  43. Jeff on the 24th August

    For those of you who have switched, how do you do on things like copy/paste? It feels weird to do ctrl+c, ctrl+v, and ctrl+x to do those and they’re so handy with the qwerty layout.

    That and trying to type on other people’s keyboards are the things that have kept me from successfully switching.

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Cut-copy-paste can be kept in the same position (although different letters if you must but you can also use the Fn keys that do not change.

    • Alfred Low on the 24th August

      @Karim How do you accomplish keeping Cut-Copy-Paste in the same position?

      I work on WinXP and tried using Auto-Hot Keys but it never gelled – but I am more than willing to give it another go.

      The shortcuts were the main killer for me, in making the switch to DVORAK – so your shortcut solution might make a full-time convert of me.

      I would rather not use Fn keys, as they r normally at the top of the keyboard – therefore represent a significant finger stretch, negating the benefit of minimising finger movement of the DVORAK layout.

    • Karim Hosein on the 26th August

      @Alfred

      When you change the keyboard layout, it maps the glyphs to different keystroke codes. It does not change the keystroke code.

      So what appears as [CTRL+C] is keystroke code [CTRL+{3rd-key-of-bottom-row}]

      When you tell Windows (or Linux) that you are using a Dvorak layout, the [CTRL+J] is still the same keystroke code as the QWERTY keystroke code for [CRTL+C] because it is still the third key of the bottom row.

      So [CTRL+X/C/V] becomes [CTRL+Q/J/K], the same key position.

      If you wish, there are ways to change the key mapping for cut-copy-paste but this may vary for each Windows version or for each application.

    • Karim Hosein on the 30th August

      I was wrong. You need to use an app like AutoHotKey and a script to do it in Windows.

      In Linux and Mac, it is much easier.

    • munch on the 12th July

      CTRL-C is CTRL-C is CTRL-C, regardless of where C appears on the keyboard. Mac might make dealing with this marginally easier, but it’s a *bear* to configure in Linux. I’ve been using Linux since 1995.

      The better answer to this is, well, to keep using CTRL-C to copy, et. al. You need to use two hands to do it, which is something you _should_ be doing _anyway_. Typing CTRL-C with one hand, comprising what many people call a “vulcan nerve pinch”, is the single biggest strain on your wrist. On days where I slip and use many VNPs, I go home from the office practically in tears.

    • uz64 on the 17th February

      I use Linux, so for me in most cases “copy” is done by simply selecting what I want to copy, and “paste” is done by middle-clicking…

      Still, if for whatever reason I want the keyboard shortcuts, they’re still there. They’re just in different positions. The Z/V shortcuts are not actually that badly placed in Dvorak, just on the opposite side of the board. C is in a somewhat awkward position, but tolerable. X is probably the worst reach of them all, but luckily I copy and paste far more than I cut, so for me that one doesn’t mean squat.

  44. Jesus on the 24th August

    Now if only I could find a blackberry with that layout….

  45. Jorge on the 24th August

    Ok I’m bought! where do I get one? does logitech have one? me wants devorak

    • Karim Hosein on the 24th August

      Many Logitech keyboards allow you to remove and replace the keys easily to match any layout. Check in their user forum to be sure.

      Alternately, you can buy a sticker pack in transparent (so both layouts show) or opaque (so the QWERTY layout is hidden). A pack probably costs only US$2.00 or less.

  46. spreng on the 24th August

    Using the Dvorak layout would also defeat keylogging malware trying to capture your passwords.

    • munch on the 12th July

      No it wouldn’t. Key-loggers virtually never intercept the keyboard at the raw scancode level.

  47. Bill Hudson on the 24th August

    My first thought was the same as many. I wouldn’t want to learn a new layout even thought it is vastly better, because I would pay every time I use another computer. Then my second thought eased that worry. With USB being hot pluggable (You can plug in/unplug while the computer is on) and so popular that most mouse and keyboards now days are USB, it would be just so easy to plug in my Dvorak and break speed limits with any computer…

    Of course the best case would be if everyone adopted the best keyboard and then Dvorak would be on every English computer. That would even work for Hunt&Peckers too.

  48. Susan on the 24th August

    I use a flat Maltron layout split hand keyboard at work (yes, it’s the prototype perspex and stainless steel one I designed for them), as well as a standard Qwerty keyboard when needs must.

    Much to my surprise I find that I am now actually faster on the Qwerty keyboard that before, even though I am now using two different layouts!

    It’s like playing two different musical instruments. Beyond a certain point one can switch between the two without a mental “white out”.

    The point of the Dvorak and other non Qwerty layouts is that it reduces overall finger moment and makes the typing more efficient. This in turn reduces strain and therefore helps offset RSI type conditions all to common with typists, particularly those who have learned to do it “properly”.

    As previously mentioned having a non Qwerty keyboard is great for keeping others off one’s computer at work too.

    On a final note to regular computer users, try to get to one Pilates class a week. Just an hour will do wonders for ones posture and back/shoulder tensions. Yes, this works for the men too.

  49. Tom on the 24th August

    At Computer Science Lab at the University of Delaware about 27 years ago I reprogrammed the key map prom in my z19 terminal to support a Dvorak layout (replaced the prom with an eprom). And the keys on the z19 came off easily and could be relocated, which allowed the physical keyboard to match.

    It was amazing… it seemed that your fingers would stay on the home row almost constantly. Loved it.

  50. Andrei on the 24th August

    I like typing on new layouts, though i didnt know about this one.
    I hope i ll find to buy one.. great advice Red Tani. Thanks

    Andrei

  51. Alex Atkin UK on the 24th August

    Two Reasons NOT to switch:

    1) You are learning a niche skill that makes it HARDER to use a “standard” keyboard layout. It might be good for you geek cred, but its not good for your employability and makes using a computer more complicated than just sticking with the tried and tested method.

    2) Repetitive Strain Injury is actually caused by many SHORT movements, so arguably a layout that means you need to move your fingers less is actually WORSE for your health. Its far more healthy to move your fingers around a lot so you do not cramp up, it keeps the joints moving and blood flowing.

    This is even more relevant if you have arthritis (I do) as keeping any joint relatively stationary becomes painful fast. Any speed benefit is offset by having to exercise your fingers in other ways more frequently.

    • munch on the 12th July

      Fallacy 1 — Knowing dvorak versus qwerty does nothing (neither positive nor negative) for your employability, especially knowing that OSes allow you to alter the keymappings at any time. Really?! REALLY?! You’re going to try to pull that one past the group?

      Fallacy 2 — RSI is caused by inflammation of the nerve sheaths in the carpel tunnel. DISTANCE TRAVELLED IS NOT RELEVANT, provided you don’t do anything to crush the nerve. You can get RSI with large movements, and with short movements. It doesn’t matter.

      Try it yourself — rub a rubber band against a desk while stretching it, and you’ll find it breaks a lot faster than if you stretch a rubber band repeatedly in free-air.

  52. Franz on the 25th August

    A couple of things:
    1) Scholes did not invent the typewriter, but was the first to patent and produce succesful typewriters; several inventors created typewriters before him.
    2) Of the seven reasons, only #2 is of *some* value; #6 is hilarious (wow, I’m into an exclusive club… and now?), but #7 is meaningless: while the two cannot really be compared, the same exact words “I’m tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race” could have been said by Hitler himself )I’m not suggesting that he actually did something good for the human race, but only that he believed to have done something good). But the main, unresolved problem with the Dvorak layout you showed here is : how on earth are you supposed to represent all those accented characters which have to be used in every language, with the only exception of English? Probably this is the real reason behind the failure of Dvorak’s layout and success of the QWERTY one.

    • Naruki Bigglesworth on the 25th August

      Franz,

      Your second point is especially noteworthy. Most of those reasons are truly pathetic, and yet the Dvorites are blindly singing their praises.

      The issue about speed, however, is still theoretical. Dvorak lied about his research, the Navy doesn’t seem to have proper records of theirs (nor care), and nobody else is offering anything more than anecdotal evidence.

      Most of which is founded in the uncritical belief of Dvorak’s claims, no less.

      I would be all for learning the Dvorak layout if rigorous, peer-reviewed studies showed it had even half the benefits the Dvorites claim. But nobody seems to be doing such studies. Especially the Dvorites.

      And I think there’s probably a good reason for that.

    • Shaun Grey on the 25th August

      Did you SERIOUSLY just bring Hitler into this? Really?

      We’re talking about keyboards here people.

    • Karim Hosein on the 26th August

      @Franz
      @”how on earth are you supposed to represent all those accented characters …? Probably this is the real reason behind the failure of Dvorak’s layout and success of the QWERTY one.”

      The same way you represent them on a QWERTY keyboard. Either you get an “International” keyboard or you ‘escape’ them. either way, it is no different.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      Got Linux? At least three solutions for all those fancy foreign characters:

      1. Use a version of Dvorak with added characters using either dead keys (U.S./Dvorak International w/ Dead Keys) or a distinct AltGr key (U.S./Dvorak Alternative International w/ No Dead Keys).

      2. If English is not your primary language, don’t even bother with standard Dvorak. Use a regional version optimized for whatever language. For example, for French, there is BÉPO. The letter arrangement of the keys is optimized for the letter frequency of that particular language, just as Dvorak is for English.

      3. Use the Compose key. Probably any UNIX or UNIX-like operating system allows you to set any unused key as the Compose key–I tend to use either the right Windows key or the Menu key beside it (both otherwise useless). Almost any symbol can be “drawn” by hitting the Compose key and then two or more keys that, together, vaguely resemble it.

      Compose key information and examples:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compose_key
      http://www.hermit.org/Linux/ComposeKeys.html

  53. CDQE on the 25th August

    Actually, QWERTY was invented by Big Foot to slow down the people looking for him so that he could develop his psychic powers and avoid detection!

    The first DVORAK keyboard was left in an okra field outside Toadsuck Ferry, Arkansas (along with a box of tasty bran muffins) by UFO’s whose all-knowing pilots were experimenting with nouveau cuisine recipes for seafood gumbo! [Hey, you could keep recipes on this thing!]

    So finish your “being hit on the head lessons” homework, eat your blueberries, quit posting “they said/but those said” non-arguments and get back to work!

    As long as the kb & box can decipher your attrocious spelling, IT DOESN’T MATTER!

  54. Joop Eggen on the 25th August

    A really warm recommendation for Dvorak.

    Interestingly the arguments are the same as for Esperanto, that language your granny will rapidly learn, and talk fluently in with confidence to its correctness. (Yes, I talk Esperanto.)

    So I would consider:
    1. you’ll find many non-dvorak keyboards out there,
    2. switching has an immediate personal advantage,
    3. you’ll find it hard to convince others to switch too.

    And one small disadvantage: you’ll your sense for qwerty keyboards.
    I would like to have a dvorak keyboard you can transport and plug in a USB socket, wired to look like a qwertz (!) keyboard.

    Dvorak might flow into my ideal of a pan-european keyboard for the European Union, where latin-a resides on the same spot as greek-alpha and cyrillic-a.

  55. Susan on the 25th August

    Whilst it isn’t Dvorak, I did a Letter Placement Word Analysis between Qwerty and Maltron two handed layouts (both for the 3D split hand keyboard topology) which looked at words one can type on the home row only, home row plus one letter, etc.

    The Dvorak layouts would be closer to the Maltron than Qwerty for effectiveness.

    For letter frequency of use (FOU) for English prose I include punctuation and also the space key which for me is also a valid letter as far as finger usage analysis goes.

    ( I also did it for the single Left and Right Hand Letter Layouts, although there isn’t a Qwerty to compare for this since the keyboards are quite different.)

    The FOU analysis was made from a 9,635,811 character (nine point six million) source data file which contains total of 1,711,549 words plus spaces, punctuation and formatting from modern prose.

    The second part of this was determining the top 100 words with accumulative percentages.

    It was an interesting little project at the time.

    Susan.

  56. Burnitdwn on the 25th August

    I’ve been using the dvorak layout for about 7 or 8 years now. It took about 2 or 3 months to get to the point where I could type decently, but after that it was a piece of cake. I now use either a Das 2 or IBM Model M keyboards with all the key faces removed as I find it confusing to switch between QWERTY/Dvorak on keyboards with labeled keys (I hate it when my eyes deceive me!)

    Anyhow, I have always typed quickly, and I don’t think I’m much faster now than I was back when I was using QWERTY all the time. I will say though that I can type nonstop for 7 or 8 hours, and my hands won’t be sore or cramping up at all, where as with qwerty, it’s a little bit less comfortable….

  57. Michael Fever on the 26th August

    This was my last article of the night and now i’m going to try out the new layout. I do a lot of typing, especially at night in the dark and can be prone to typos… I type really fast so it’ll be interesting to see if this will make a difference. I’ll let you know the results in a week =)

  58. dsc on the 28th August

    Are the numbers really correct? 1.5 km vs 30 km? Wouldn’t it be 1.5 km vs 3.0 km, perhaps?

  59. Karim Hosein on the 30th August

    Just switched today.

    Will give an update in a month.

    • Karim Hosein on the 5th October

      It has been a month now. I am typing well but slow. I have not been practising as much as I should have so that is no surprise. I am actually better than I thought I would be (due to my lack of practise) and I think I would be back up to speed in another month.

      The layout seems more natural somehow (although typing is not a natural thing) but I also see the need for a more natural ‘arrangement’ of the keys and not this awful diagonal garbage. I might splurge and get a Kinesis or a Maltron ;-)

      Still, less pain in the right wrist. That was my goal.

    • Karim Hosein on the 30th January

      After two months things were looking up. I then changed my kbd layout on my iPhone.

      After three months, I was back up to speed. I then changed my phone to an Android and changed the layout there also.

      As for my wrist, the pain from typing is gone. The first month was agonising but I am glad I made the move.

      [This was typed on the Dvorak keyboard of my Android.]

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      Your experience with Dvorak very closely mimmics mine. I switched around Dec. 5 or Dec. 8, and after originally planning to keep my QWERTY skills “just in case” I abandoned that plan early on (just too much confusion…). The first few weeks were hell, but by the third week I finally saw hints of what was to come, as I was slightly less confused, more able to remember the key locations, and began typing a few common key sequences. I was stuck in the 30s range for quite a while, and now I am trying to get my average speed into the 50s. My original QWERTY average was 55-60 WPM (~75 or so if I really tried, but it killed my wrists…); I am going for at least 60, maybe 65 average. Still, I would consider my current speed acceptable.

      After about a month into Dvorak, I still occasionally ran into confusion when typing, and by a month and a half the confusion was mostly gone. Now it has been about two and a half months and everything has progressed very nicely. I am still generally in the 40s in typing tests, but I get some very nice bursts of speed… eventually I will catch up on the problem sequences and make it to the 50s and up regularly. My accuracy is quickly improving, and I have to put minimal effort–both mentally and physically–to type. The fatigue I had in both wrists that also sometimes extended as pain in my right arm is now pretty much gone; what remains, I’m pretty sure, is probably exclusively caused by the mouse.

      If I really wanted to… I could probably re-learn QWERTY now, but I have absolutely no desire to. In fact, I can still type using it–slow–but I just don’t care. The Dvorak experience just runs laps around it, it’s not even worth it… I’ll probably rarely come across a computer that doesn’t allow switching to Dvorak, and if I needed to type regularly at a job I’d either ask if I can bring my own keyboard with built-in hardware Dvorak switch or see if they will allow switching layouts in the operating system. The way I see it, QWERTY is going to be dedicated to nostalgia purposes, such as running FreeDOS and DOSBox… no real work whatsoever.

      I am actually trying to learn Colemak now so I can switch between the two layouts (Dvorak and Colemak) at will and I am having some success. What’s sad is that, at drastically varying speeds, I can actually type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” in all three layouts: Dvorak, Colemak and QWERTY.

      In Dvorak I have actually mapped caps lock to backspace right from the start, Colemak-style (really helps–learning a new layout means you’ll be using it a lot), and caps lock is accessed by pressing both shift keys on my system (it’s an option in KDE, I run Linux). Not sure if I will keep this setup or not; I sometimes miss not having the caps lock in easy reach (not a fan of holding down shift or alternating shifts from keystroke to keystroke), and having to hit two keys to activate/activate the lock is a bit awkward. Similarly, once I get even better accuracy, I should rarely even need backspace, so its original location should not be too bad in the end.

  60. Richard on the 31st August

    We in Germany have a keyboard layout especially developed for the german language, it’s called NEO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout#Neo). Even if it is far superior to our standard QWERTZ layout still nobody knows about it.

  61. Michael Dickens on the 5th September

    Colemak is far superior to Dvorak.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      That depends on what you consider “superior.” They both have their quirks, advantages and disadvantages. They are both highly optimized. They are both better than QWERTY–that is undoubtedly a fact. But you’re gonna have to back that up with facts on how Colemak is better than Dvorak and why, because “Colemak’s better” doesn’t carry any weight on its own.

      FWIW, I have switched from QWERTY to Dvorak already, and am in the process of learning Colemak as my second keyboard layout. I haven’t been able to come to a personal conclusion just yet since I haven’t used it long enough to get up to speed, but the facts indicate that they are both excellent layouts, and depending on your needs you can’t go wrong either way.

      I can currently get 40+ WPM in Dvorak and generally about 15-20 WPM in Colemak.

  62. Jussi Kari on the 6th September

    I recently started learning Dvorak myself. I didn’t do instant and complete switch; I am still using Qwerty as my main layout but I am definitely going to do a complete switch soon. I just want it to be as smooth as possible.

    Anyway, I started learning Dvorak using one of the online tools for that. I wasn’t quite happy with any of them and built my own, typefox.com. It’s still under quite heavy development and missing some important features – but I find it very useful. Give it a try if you wish and you’ll get statistics about your development.

    I am currently typing around 650 characters/5minutes with Dvorak as compared to double that with Qwerty. I have done about 30 exercises with typefox starting from practice #1 and lately been doing a lot of difficulty 10 exercises.

  63. sdwinder on the 7th September

    “Using Dvorak puts you in an exclusive club — like having a Mac instead of a PC”

    This one sentence messed up your entire argument….

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      I must be an elite member of a highly exclusive club then, because almost nothing I use can be considered “standard”:

      Router: Tomato firmware; not stock
      Computer OS: Linux (flavor: depends)
      Keyboard: Dvorak (learning Colemak also as a second layout)
      Text Editor: vi/nano (graphical: Geany)
      Phone: OK, Android is not exactly a major deviation, given that it is Apple’s biggest competitor… I have an Android phone, and it’s decent… something about its locked down nature though, not too crazy about it…

      I left the masses of Windows users using Notepad and the QWERTY layout years ago… though the keyboard layout was the last and most recent change I made, and I used Metapad in my last years on Windows. I would never go back, in any of those cases. I have always tended to deviate from the standard beliefs, and more and more this is showing with my computer hardware, software, and configuration.

  64. Zee on the 11th September

    Interesting concept, i always wondered where the QWERTY layout came from and who decided what key ended up where….

    But after 20yrs of using the QWERTY layout without any major issues I have to say that it would almost feel like change purely for change sake……I will never forget when i was told by one of my former managers that “while it may make for interesting reading, a good solution is of very little use without first having a problem to solve”

    I think that applies here as the QWERTY may not be the most efficient layout but it doesn’t have an issue that is big enough to drive mass change……….

  65. dave on the 17th September

    1. Consider dvorak, colemak and malt layouts.
    2. Pick one that appeals and, as you discover personal preferences, modify it.
    3. Having settled on your ideal layout, create custom keymap files in every format that you might use: MSwin, osX, X11. THIS IS THE TECHNICAL AND IMPORTANT BIT.
    4. Put these files in a folder, upload the folder to your online storage (usually coupled with your email account). Also carry the folder on your pendrive.

  66. Cal on the 17th September

    What about for people who type fast enough, but in an unconventional manner? I for instance don’t adhere to the “home row” style of typing because of a learning disability. It’s a long boring story but I’ve developed a kind of advanced hunt and peck where I don’t actually have to look at the keyboard (unless it’s someone else’s keyboard), and can still type just as fast and efficiently as an average/ above average typist. I’ve also noticed that this is not an entirely uncommon way for people to type. Since this style is dependent entirely on knowing where the keys are, how would switching to a different format be any better or worse than QWERTY?

  67. xanderstrike on the 20th September

    Your picture is of a qwerty keyboard. I know this because my Dvorak does not look like that.

  68. Steve on the 21st September

    Great big “Who cares?”. I type at 60+ wpm, I make very few mistakes and I’m a programmer. Why would I want to type faster than that? All I’d end up doing is making more work for myself, and if I’m copy typing trying to increase my speed would just lead to me being able to type faster than I can read, and what’s the point in that?
    Ultimately it should come down to the same reasoning as what browser you use and what operating system you use: use what works best for you :)

  69. Chris on the 21st September

    As I’ve been programming for nearly 30 years and never learned to touch-type, I read this article and thought “now is the time”.

    After a week of touch-typing exclusively in Dvorak, I’m going back to qwerty. I don’t know if it’s because I have large hands or weak pinkies (I never realized how much I type the letters “L” and “S” before last week), or because I’m a programmer and use symbols and shortcut keys a lot, but touch-typing (i.e. keeping my fingers over a “home row” and keeping all motion relative to it) is just not comfortable for me. (And I use an MS Natural Keyboard with the feet folded down, so it’s not the wrist angle.)

    It seems I’ve developed a typing method for myself over the years that continually changes the fingering over the keys depending on what word I’m typing (or word/symbol combination such as “this.” or “ToString()” or semicolon-enter) to keep my fingers rather spread out over the keyboard (but with my wrists still on the rest) and moving around staying loose, and qwerty’s distinction of spreading out common letters HELPS me to do this. Dvorak forces me to keep my fingers in tight, and they cramp up.

    I probably only type about 50 wpm but that’s fast enough for a programmer. If I were a writer I would probably use Dvorak or Colemak on a Kinesis contoured keyboard, but for my purposes I’m sticking with qwerty.

    I’m glad I tried Dvorak. It forced me to look at my typing ergonomics and consider some alternatives. For touch-typists, it seems so much easier. I don’t know why anyone would want to touch-type in Qwerty.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      FYI It takes longer than a week to learn the layout. A solid 4 weeks had me typing at 45wpm. Now 6 months later, I’m typing at upwards of 65 to 70 wpm. There is a dvorak layout made specifically for programmers btw.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      It took me at least three weeks just to type well enough to get somewhat of a feel of what was to come. More like a month or a month and a half before I could safely say anything for sure. One week is not enough for any layout.

      Also, your comment on the L/S and S/L sequences: Yes your pinky and ring fingers are the two weakest on each hand. Further, because QWERTY only the letter “P” and a bunch of typically little-used symbols on the pinky plus shift/return/backspace/etc., with QWERTY that finger never really gets a workout. While Dvorak tends to minimize the usage of those naturally weaker fingers in relation to the workload it places on the stronger fingers, due to its design being to favor the right hand (because most people are right-handed), of course that hand gets hit the hardest… which translates to the pinky also getting a fair bit more use (hey, there’s only so many fingers on one hand…).

      The L/S positions irritated me at first, but it’s one of those things that, after several weeks of practice and building up your pinky muscles, becomes much easier with time. It’s still not one of my favorite key sequences, but it’s not near as bad as what I’ve gone through in QWERTY, to be honest. UNIX commands like “ls -l” really suck… but for those, there are aliases. My distro even comes with one for that exact command: “ll” (two lower-case L letters). Dvorak’s placement of the dash is, to put it simply, genius… I use the dash/underscore very frequently in passwords, file names, for command line switches, and it makes it so much easier to type those in. Phone numbers are easier to enter. Dashes in normal writing automatically becomes much easier, not having to reach for the number row (which typically requires me to look down).

  70. Frank Sermeno on the 22nd September

    The reason the Dvorak layout never took off is because it doesn’t really matter where the keys are at. I can type 90 WPM with 85% accuracy… it wouldn’t benefit me much if I spent time learning a new layout so that I can type 95WPM with 90% accuracy. If I were to practice typing a little with the standard layout I can avoid the time it would take me to learn a Dvorak keyboard.

    Good typists type fast and bad typists type slow. Yes, the letters are placed in an idiotic fashion but the truth is it doesn’t really matter.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      RSI reduction was the reason I switched. I’ve had no pain or symptoms since I switched.

  71. Sid on the 4th October

    I’ve been using the Dvorak keyboard for over 6 years now and I can’t imagine living without it. It’s definitely less stress on my wrists than Qwerty used to be, and it took me about a month to learn to type comfortably, but it’s been worth it. I just swapped the keys on my MacBook and activated Dvorak as the default keyboard in System Preferences>Languages. I made the commitment to switching to Dvorak at a time when I was typing a lot at work, and my wrists used to be sore at the end of the day, even with a decent keyboard.

    My typing speed was never that fast in Qwerty, but in Dvorak it’s a good deal faster, and I’ve got to the stage where I can type out nearly 3/4 of the letters without looking at the keyboard. It seems I don’t have to move my fingers as much between rows as before, and I love the fact that I have to use my left hand to type in vowels, making alternate-hand typing pretty fast and easy.

    As a Mac user, I like the “Q” and “W” keys being right above the “Cmd” key because those are the shortcuts to “Quit App” and “Close Window” respectively. Even the “V” and “Z” keys are right next to each other close to the right “Cmd” key, which makes Pasting and Undoing pretty easy too.

    Sometimes the better format doesn’t emerge the winner in terms of numbers. The Dvorak users I’ve heard from can’t think of switching back to Qwerty anytime either.

  72. Lindsay on the 4th October

    I decided for kicks and giggles I would try Devorak over the summer when I didn’t have to write notes or essays and see how I did. If it didn’t work by the end of the summer I would just kick it.

    I never measured my words per minute on qwerty, but I was pretty fast. Probably around 60-80. I found that after doing a complete immersion of devorak that it took 1 month to become adequate at it, and then another month to be on the same level as I was with qwerty before!

    I was actually shocked at how fast I learned it (when I gave myself 4 months and only took half the time). I also find the locations of Dvorak much more intuitive… like why do I need a semicolon on the home row as well as 2 uncommonly used letters (J and K)? Even where the punctuation is more intuitive! It just -makes sense- where everything is. I also like the feeling of my fingers not running all over the keyboard, but just staying in one general place. More comfortable.

    Because of the intuitiveness of it, I have trouble using library qwerty computers and such (till I figured how to reprogram them).

    And if you keep the same qwerty look to the keyboard, and set it for qwerty command keys, it is still easy to use the +C or +V or  + F or any other commonly used command.

    Really I just find Dvorak more fun to use… I guess that puts me into the ignorant geek club that the bashers are labelling.

  73. Moe on the 9th November

    “Using Dvorak puts you in an exclusive club — like having a Mac instead of a PC”
    This is just awful. I loved the article as a whole, and do plan to learn DVORAK (eventually), but that line immediately killed the flow and spirit of it for me.

  74. Gayle on the 29th January

    Um, have you all been missing the other comments here? Dvorak is NOT faster, and follow up studies have shown that. The guy faked his research.

    The only thing you’ll do by switching to Dvorak is slow yourself down during the switch, slow yourself down when using a normal QWERTY keyboard afterwards, and annoy anyone else who uses your computer.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      Screw anyone who wants to use your computer. If it’s that much of a pain, pull out a QWERTY board or switch the software layout. If your friends were touch typist, they should have no problem typing on a keyboard with any layout.

      As for slowing you down, that is only temporary. I was a solid 35-45 wpm on a QWERTY for years and when I switched to DVORAK my WPM increased to 65-70. There is a learning curve as there is with anything you take on for the first time. I am slower on a QWERTY board now but I usually just switch the keyboard layout in preferences or control panel and type. Plus my old training kicks in and I start typing at about 20 wpm. I’m rarely on a QWERTY so it’s not really a concern.

  75. d1zy on the 30th January

    There’s ERGONOMICS and ERGONOMETRICS:
    A good, ergonomic keyboard has the keys arranged in rows and columns – There is no excuse for staggered arrangement of electronic keys. Google images of the ‘kinesis advantage’, to see the BEST mass-produced ergonomic k/b. Worth every penny.

    Ergonometrics, in this context, is the method of devising efficient layouts. Nowadays, computer programs let us generate our own layouts. These attributes include:

    Hand Alternation. this is mostly about keeping the vowels on one side. Dvorak got this one right and it made his layout dead easy to learn.

    Same Finger. Penalise layouts that will cause repeated use of the same finger. eg: try typing ‘mummy’ on a qwerty layout.

    Rolls (inward and outward). This refers to common digraphs being positioned on adjacent keys, which gives a blend of hand alternation and rolls. This smooth movement reduces the amount of row-changing and redces finger travel.

    Placing vkjxqz- the least common letters in English -on the corners and on the centre keys of the upper/lower rows

    Another important feature that we now take for granted, is commonly seen on mobile devices; having symbols/punctuation on a level of their own. For example Alt+e gives €, Alt+a gives @, Alt+n gives ñ. This brings your favourite pnctuation, symbols and commands within easy reach. Also, many people remap Caps Lock to Ctrl or Alt. That key labelled Caps Lock is big and easy to reach. remap yours TODAY.

  76. justin j on the 1st February

    I rarely post my opinions anywhere, but I found this article to be rather one sided and heavily based on opinion. The article could make a strong case for using the Dvorak layout on mobile devices, but for the following reasons I think that you should take this article with a grain of salt.

    1. If the Dvorak layout was going to be big, it would have done it already. Modern technology has embraced the qwerty layout and due to technological social context, you will need to use qwerty regardless of whether you change to Dvorak or not. After all, you won’t be able to change all the keyboards in the world to your layout, and you will most certainly be using a keyboard that is not your own at one point.

    2. Depending on your current skill level, you would almost certainly suffer a decrease in typing speed since you would have to unlearn the previous typing layout you were used to and learn a new one. I suppose a beginning typist could possibly show an increase in speed though.

    4. If you use bad technique you could cause injury to yourself using Dvorak or qwerty, just as using proper technique should allow you to avoid typing stress regardless of the layout you use.

    5. I have found that there are many situations when breaking the “home-row rules” helps to increase speed and avoid mistakes while using qwerty. This is probably true of Dvorak also.

    6. The Dvorak layout was intended for the English language, and mostly for conversational english. That would seem to leave anyone not typing conversational English out of the intended target-user-group.

    7. All statistics are misleading and there aren’t even any sources cited for any of the so-called “facts” in this article.

    CONCLUSION:

    Use what is best for you. If you are a kick-ass qwerty touch-typist, the Dvorak layout is probably not going do anything for you. I do think that some of the arguments stated in favor of the Dvorak layout would prove its usefulness on mobile devices like the iphone/blackberry though.

    Thanks to the author for sparking the debate. :-)

    Cheers!
    Justin J.

  77. Thomas on the 12th February

    Change for the sake of change? Nah.

    • d1zy on the 13th February

      actually, i changed because i got off on the wrong foot. over three years, i relearned and forgot qwerty three times. it was always hard to learn and hard to do. then i researched keyboard ergonomics, became aware of layouts and found out about dvorak. i was a child, no-one around me seemed to know or care about this very real and important literacy issue, and this was all before we had internet access, so it was real achievement. dvorak was VERY easy to learn and gave IMMEDIATE rewards in productivity.

      to transliterate klingon, QWERTY rules.
      to compose english text comfortably, QWERTY is a total failure.

      or put it this way… I never bothered to speak fluent tagalong or write babayin because there was never a personal reward in doing so… same with QWERTY.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      RSI not changing for change sake.

  78. Bojan on the 25th February

    I wonder how I didn’t knew about this earlier! Thanks for the great share

  79. Anonymous on the 29th April

    Earlier I saw a comment saying that typing on a Dvorak keyboard makes it harder to use a standard keyboard. I assume that by “standard” the person meant QWERTY, but I think that it is noteworthy to point out that the Dvorak layout is officially labelled as an alternate standard by ANSI in America, and therefore one typing on Dvorak – technically – is typing on a standard layout. Also, I have been typing on Dvorak for about a year now, and I find every aspect of it (even as a programmer) more comfortable than any other layout.

    The keyboard reduces stress on my fingers after typing for hours when making a new application for my mac, therefore I feel that it is better than a QWERTY layout.

    Also, I type frequently in both French and English, and I feel that the Dvorak keyboard is great for French as well as English, because on the mac I can use the option key to make accent marks. This does mean I have to reach down to the option key quite a bit, but I still feel that I type better on Dvorak than any other layout. And who knows, I may even give Bépo a try!

  80. Anonymous on the 29th April

    A side note, I just remapped my caps lock key (took literally 5 seconds) to the option key, so accents are no problem now.

  81. Farn on the 24th May

    “Using Dvorak puts you in an exclusive club — like having a Mac instead of a PC”

    This line was enough to make Dvorak users look as much like Mac users. I can’t stand people who want to use alternative technologies just to act superior to everyone else.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      I’m right there with you buddy. I was a long time PC user and QWERTY user. I switched to Mac and Dvorak and I’m not looking back. I would prefer to promote them as superior only because I have found that my workflow has increased tremendously. A lot less troubleshooting and no more RSI. Both worth the switch for me.

  82. Michael on the 26th July

    I see a lot of ignorant posts in discussions about Dvorak, QWERTY, Colemak and other keyboard layouts. People often come to the conclusion that it’s not worth the switch, especially if you’re already proficient in a layout, but there are too many undereducated and, frankly, BIASED opinions out there by which people unwittingly allow themselves to be swayed.

    Here are the FACTS (from my research – take it as you would any other person’s opinion):

    * Dvorak is better for your hands (plenty of independent user reports cite how it has helped their RSI and/or carpal tunnel, but some DON’T benefit) and more EFFICIENT to use (this does not say anything about its potential speed benefits but read on)

    * There ARE people with 110+ wpm on QWERTY who have made the switch to Dvorak AND have increased their speeds (usually no more than 10 wpm) – and of those who didn’t quit QWERTY completely, they can still proficiently use both layouts, though their QWERTY speeds usually slow a bit

    * One week will never be enough to make the switch – from the people I’ve heard who have made the switch it has taken 2-4+ months of practice on average to reach their QWERTY speeds on Dvorak (though more practice means faster progress) – but this is a switch to which one should be completely dedicated – you need not bother switching if you don’t want to spend time training

    * It’s not for everyone. I put off learning Dvorak for YEARS because I didn’t see much of the potential benefit and I was a fast QWERTY typist already (110-120 wpm on average). Even now, my two MAIN reasons for switching were: fear of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, and the fact that I had TIME to make the switch (some Summers you just don’t have a lot to do)

    Other reasons I switched include: The desire to become more of a keyboard hipster than I am right now – I use a Das Keyboard Ultimate Silent (blank keys, mechanical Cherry MX Brown key switches), the excuse to allow fewer people to use my keyboard (and possibly screw over anyone who does try to use it without my permission..), the possibility of higher wpm (which not everyone achieves, but I’m progressing faster than anyone I’ve known so I’m hopeful), and simple FRUSTRATION – I shudder knowing that the QWERTY layout is technically a modern invention and there’s basically no turning back from it, BUT IT IS BY FAR NOT THE BEST LAYOUT. I don’t care which one people think is best be it Dvorak, Colemak or another layout sent into obscurity, but QWERTY just ISN’T the best and the fact that society has forever accepted it as THE standard layout (for English) frightens me. What OTHER inventions will we see in the future that aren’t as efficient as they should be and which ones will we accept forever, despite their faults? That is one of the other reasons I switched – the world shouldn’t settle for mediocrity when something much much better comes along, but it does – so this is ONE thing I won’t settle for: a layout that isn’t tailored for the user’s hands.

    Again, don’t bother switching if you have no fear of stress injuries in your future or don’t want to spend weeks and months gathering speed in Dvorak whilst losing it in QWERTY. But you SHOULD switch if you want a healthier layout and you have the time. However, I encourage those ready to learn Dvorak to keep practicing QWERTY as well – the world will never universally and wholly switch to Dvorak, and since you live in this world, you’ll want to keep your QWERTY abilities.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      Thank you for the sanity.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      Well said. The only thing I don’t quite agree with is wasting the time and effort to maintain your QWERTY skills. Dvorak is officially an “alternate” standard layout to QWERTY recognized by ANSI, and you’ll have a hard time finding a computer dating all the way back to Windows 95 that doesn’t support it natively. It’s just a quick trip to the control panel to switch to it and you’re off. In many cases even you cannot change it yourself, say, for a job, if you ask they’ll probably work something out, either by setting your user for Dvorak or by allowing you to use a keyboard with a hardware Dvorak/QWERTY switch. That leaves very few times when QWERTY is a must, and for those, how often is it truly necessary to properly touchtype? Just look down! QWERTY will probably forever be printed on the keycaps of virtually every keyboard in existence.

  83. Alexander on the 16th August

    Hi, this post is great. It does motivate me to continue using Dvorak Layout.

    Right now, I’m in the process to switch from qwerty to Dvorak layout – using the very same Qwerty keyboard + Colemak Capslock-to-Backspace remapping. At the same time, I’m changing my mouse positions to the left hand. Guess what, ctrl+z, v, s, and c are all on the right side of the hand ! (much suited for lefty mouser). The only remaining problems are ctrl+a, x, and alt+tab, though there’s a workaround: Autohotkey.

    I can’t agree more on the distance traveled by my fingers. Dvorak really reduces the distance, compared by qwerty.

    If you want to retain your qwerty skills while learning dvorak, just type in qwerty 10-30 minutes a day – depends on your typing frequency.

  84. martyrX on the 16th August

    I began with qwerty (for about 10 years) and then changed to dvorak. I can effectively switch back and forth between dvorak and qwerty.

    learning dvorak didn’t destroy my qwerty skills.

  85. Jared on the 30th August

    I tried this for a while but kept having usability issues. If only every common application that I use didn’t have keyboard shortcuts based on QWERTY….

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      What I learned while switching over was that shortcuts aren’t necessarily created out of ease of use but out of necessity. When you learn Dvorak, the shortcut commands become a part of your typing and less apart of pattern memory and cut, copy, paste, undo convenience.

  86. UGG Highkoo Sale on the 27th September

    Your article is useful for me. It is a good article.

  87. lamppost778 on the 1st October

    This was probably the most pretentious article I have ever read. Every word made me hate you more. I actually liked the Dvorak layout until I read this.

    • munch on the 12th July

      No you didn’t. Stop pretending to be pretensious yourself.

  88. Kevin on the 2nd October

    So after reading a large portion of comments, I think I’ve realized the main point of QWERTY.

    Its not the best in any specific area. Period. However, it is the best in general for EVERYONE.

    Ive seen commend about “What about programmers?”, and “What about lefties?”, etc. And to that I say, Dvorak is designed for typists only. Qwerty is designed as a generic layout everyone can use. I am a gamer and a lefty, I dabble in programming here and there, and I use shortcuts a lot for graphics work. A Dvorak layout would drastically hinder my ability to do the things I do most.

    So the reason Dvorak never took over is simply that its for too specific of a person. Qwerty was never “dethroned” because it works for everyone from all walks of life.

    • Aaron on the 6th October

      Qwerty wasn’t designed as a generic layout. It has become the standard and therefore, software programmers cater to it. Keyboard shortcuts are just as easy as they every were on DVORAK as they are on QWERTY. Just remapped. Most software use shortcuts out of necessity and not convenience.

  89. Mark on the 2nd October

    For those who want to learn Dvorak check out TypeMatrix keyboards. I bought one a couple years ago and love it.

    They also have keyboards for several different languages.

  90. Ayub Lin on the 22nd October

    Thank you for the post, successfully encourage me to switch, but I can’t afford the losing in speed at the moment, gotta wait when I have more free times.

  91. scheusal on the 25th November

    I made the switch to DVORAK this year and let me tell you, so glad I did!

    My hands would ache after typing a paper that was longer than two pages when I used QWERTY, it was so painful. We typed lots of papers in college and I dreaded having to type things up due to the cramping. The faster I went the weirder movements my fingers had to do.

    After switching to DVORAK I haven’t experienced any pain at all. My fingers alternate beautifully right-left-right-left because the layout sticks vowels on my left home row and useful letters close to my right (there’s also a lefty version of DVORAK)

    The combos th, ch, st and sh waterfall nicely from outside fingers to inside ones. On QWERTY, typing the word “the” requires 3 reaching fingers, whereas I don’t even leave my home row anymore to type it! There are way more common English words I can type with the homerow letters “aoeuidhtns” than with the QWERTY “asdfghjkl”, mmkay, that’s a fact, just look at all those vowels RIGHT THERE!! I don’t even have to move!

    Yes, it takes some time to get used to – zomg, BIG SHOCK! So does anything new. Because I can toggle DVORAK on and off I’m not stuck with it if I’m using software that has QWERTY hotkeys. I didn’t keep practicing QWERTY but I can still bounce back to it on the rare occasion I need to.

    Speed claims will never be accurate because different people type differently, and users that switch may type differently than someone who started with only that layout. The biggest reason to switch is to get rid of the aches and type while barely moving your fingers.

    QWERTY works, but DVORAK feels soooo much better when most of your time is spent typing on the home row. Just give it a try, type a bunch of gibberish using only the homerow – that’s the buttery feeling I get every day.

    My only regret is that I didn’t make the switch sooner.

  92. Junior on the 2nd January

    I think I’ll stick with Qwerty considering I already type 176 wpm. :)

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      If I typed at 176 WPM, I’d probably be stuck with a tough decision…

      1. Keep using QWERTY insanely fast and risk developing some serious RSI at some point, or…

      2. Switch to Dvorak and risk a slight drop in speed. Most likely temporary, but potentially permanently.

      I would probably pick number 2 because, face it, 176 WPM is already ridiculously fast; even losing 25 WPM would be worth the added comfort and protection to the health of your wrists. On the other hand, you might even end up with a slight speed *increase* eventually after switching… but seriously, at those speeds, the actual WPM doesn’t really matter. That’s like bragging how fast a particular rocket made by NASA is capable of going; who gives a damn? A rocket is a rocket; they are all insanely fast, able to leave the planet’s atmosphere, capable of breaking free of Earth’s gravitational pull, and entering space.

  93. Anderson Otuka on the 10th February

    It makes sense only for English.

    Sure, there are other keyboard layouts out there for other countries, but this wouldn’t solve the problem of having an “universal keyboard”.

    The 10 most used letters in my language (Portuguese) are A, E, O, S, R, I, N, D, M, U.

    So, according to the same logic of Dvorak keyboard, which the keys are placed on most “comfortable and frequent” use (7 5 3 1 9 0 2 4 6 8), a similar keyboard could be created with “I O E A U M S R N D” laying on the central row for Portuguese.

    There will be flaws in every keyboard developed, and the world evolved from the standard “QWERTY” to others. You just can’t rewrite history. It’s a matter of preference the keyboard you use, as anything else you can opt to use.

  94. Amanda on the 11th February

    My intentions are not to be rude but Seriously people can you not find more important to debate over than keyboards? I usually do not usually waste my time to comment on things like this but I honestly have to say that I find it very sad that so many take the time to argue over others preferences of keyboards. Really who cares? Everyone has their own opinion based on what works best for them. I’m sure this was meant to be a informational tool, not a debate on the history of why or how each keyboard was designed.

  95. Tim on the 29th February

    I tried Dvorak – I had my keyboard layouts swapped over for about 6 months, but never got comfortable with it.

    I had three main problems – one was totally not understanding why the key mapped to my strongest finger on my left hand, ie my first finger, was the letter ‘U’? Surely swapping ‘I’ and ‘U’ (‘I’ is to the right of ‘U’) would have been more useful?

    Secondly, my little finger on my right hand would end up going numb after about 10 minutes of typing from having to stretch to reach the letter ‘L’. Than numbness would then slowly spread across my whole hand.

    Maybe it works from an RSI perspective for other people, but certainly didn’t work for me.

    Lastly, I occasionally play video games with my boys, and many games use the WASD keys for movement. Some games allow for key remapping, but a significant number don’t. I know it is simple to swap the keyboard back to qwerty, but it just seemed like an additional pain that was the final straw to convincing me to (reluctantly) swap back to qwerty.

  96. Carol on the 18th March

    I learned to type on Dvorak, and so can’t compare it to Qwerty. For those worried about getting a Dvorak keyboard, you don’t really need one. I’ve only ever used a Qwerty keyboard.

    The only downside to Dvorak I’ve noticed is that when you use a public computer, like at the library, you have to use Qwerty, and feel like an idiot.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      Assuming you don’t have your own laptop to bring, what’s stopping you from going to the control panel on their machines and changing the layout to Dvorak? Assuming their systems are heavily locked down, you could always ask if they can change it for you, or unlock that particular setting somehow. And if you are able to change the layout, don’t forget to change it back before you leave… it might be funny to change keyboard layouts randomly and watch other people struggle, but it won’t be funny when the library gets enough complaints and start locking their systems down tighter…

  97. Sumit Chahal on the 7th April

    70% of keystrokes in the home row? Is the home row really where people type the fastest? I don’t know about other people, but according to the results I got from a typing software, I type the fastest in the top row, slower in the home row and without any doubt, the slowest in the bottom row. After I know that, I don’t feel the need of switching to Dvorak. Dvorak must be faster than Qwerty, if it’s assumed that people type the fastest in the home row. But that is not the case with me. I comfortably type at 90-100 wpm, with a best of 132 wpm (according to the results I got on TypeRacer) on Qwerty keyboard. I’ve been using the layout for over a year now.

    • uz64 on the 18th February

      In QWERTY, most of the typing *is* on the top row… so it’s not surprising that at your speeds you’ve somehow adapted to get better speeds in the top row. But think about it; in proper touch typing, you always start on the home keys and return them there after any key press. From that position, how could it possibly be faster to hit, say, T than J? After all, for J, you’re already there… just press down.

  98. Sierra on the 9th April

    I m a great touch typist on the QWERTY keyboard and i have been typing for 5 years for around 10 mins a day in all those years. Should i switch to dvorak keyboard or not??

  99. Anonomous on the 23rd April

    I learned to type on Qwerty keyboards because that is my school’s way of doing it but i have never tried Dvorak keyboards because i think i am going to encounter more Qwerty keyboards thab Dvorak. Though it takes a while to learn how to type fast i am at about 30wpm on Qwerty keyboard.

  100. Robert on the 19th May

    I would try the layout out, if it would have an alternative to Hungarian, which is quite hard to make considering we have 9 additional letters to the English alphabet (íöüóőúéáű), and positioning those alone would ruin the “flawless” typing experience on DVORAK.

    Aside from the commands that I got used to (and I’m not only talking about ctrl+c and ctrl+v, I use almost every letter in the alphabet to complete tasks faster), I would still have to remap nearly every software I use to fit the layout (Photoshop, After Effects, Renoise, Soundbooth etc. etc.), and altogether I don’t really think that it’s worth the bother to take the time and build up the ~80wpm on another layout as well.

    If there would be support from nearly all aspects (OS, all type of programs etc.) I would seriously consider making the decision to switch. But as long as the world favors QWERTY, only a tiny minority of people will use the otherwise better layout.

    If you make it first, you make the rules. DWORAK was late to make a change.

  101. Randy Brinson on the 5th June

    I have been using the Dvorak keyboard at home and office since 1999. Took about 8-12 months of 2-3 hours per day at the keyboard to “unlearn” 30 years of QWERTY … that is, to exceed my QWERTY speed & accuracy. I have found only one downside: the awkwardness of having to occasionally use a QWERTY layout. I now enjoy the advantages of speed–somewhere between 50%-100% gain, fewer errors (guessing 20%-30%; never counted), and most importantly, less wrist pain.

    As for finding Dvorak keyboards, sticky labels are a fair solution. The Fentek keyboard (made by Key-Tronic) is large and the keys are stiff, but its a fair to good option. I found the best solution is to choose a QWERTY keyboard with flat key rows where the angle or tilt of one row is tho same as the next row and the rows are not tiered–that is the upper rows should not be higher than the lower rows. I chose a Logitech lighted keyboard. First, I switched my keyboard layout preference in Windows and Linux so I could test the new layout. Then I carefully pried off the nearly 3 dozen key caps and replaced them where they belong on the Dvorak layout. That takes about 20-30 minutes depending on dexterity, patience, and of course the keyboard make & model.

    After more that a dozen years with Dvorak, do I expect to ever return to QWERTY? No way!

  102. Jan on the 14th June

    Economists Stan Liebowotz and Stephen E. Margolis have written articles in the Journal of Law and Economics[24] and Reason magazine[25] where they reject Dvorak proponents’ claims that the dominance of the QWERTY is due to market failure brought on by QWERTY’s early adoption, writing, “[T]he evidence in the standard history of Qwerty versus Dvorak is flawed and incomplete. [..] The most dramatic claims are traceable to Dvorak himself, and the best-documented experiments, as well as recent ergonomic studies, suggest little or no advantage for the Dvorak keyboard.” wikipedia

  103. Luc on the 19th July

    I learned DVORAK using Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing on an Atari ST computer back around 1987-88. I don’t think I’ve ever had a situation where I could not at least temporarily re-set the keyboard layout of a PC for work.

  104. A Dvorak layout fan :) on the 1st September

    I was a qwerty user with a speed of 421cpm and pain in my fingers. It just took a month to port to Dvorak. I enjoy using it and feel like geek when i say about this too my friends. :)

  105. david arthur on the 10th September

    I really don’t like Dvorak because it takes forever for me!!!!!!!!!!

  106. Horza on the 9th October

    QWERTY Sucks Big Time!

  107. Debit on the 11th October

    I am a novice at Dvorak keyboard layout, so bear with me.

    I have been occasionally using Korean layout, as I have to type letters and e-mails in Korean at work. Although it is not Dvorak, it shares some key elements, notably having vowels on one side. In case of the Korean layout, the vowels are concentrated on the right-hand side. This is especially critical in Korean, as it contains many more vowel characters than just the a, e, i, o, u.

    So, based on my experience with Korean layout, the fact that all of the vowels are concentrated on one side alone makes Dvorak a major upgrade over QWERTY. The worst thing about QWERTY lies in the placement of its vowels.

    • Debit on the 11th October

      I forgot to mention that I had to learn the Korean layout on my own. Its straightforward vowel placement made learning easier. Likewise, a newcomer with no previous typing experience should be able to self-teach the Dvorak. More difficult to get started with the QWERTY in this manner.

  108. Joseph on the 18th October

    I learned Qwerty in school and always found my hands hurt after using it. It always felt awkward and never got above 40wpm no matter how much I practiced. Over the years my touch typing degraded to a fairly fast visual typing and I can still type fairly fast with this method if I have to.

    About a year or so ago I gave Dvorak a try and I love it. I can type for hours without any discomfort and I was able to get to almost 80wpm and still find my speed and accuracy still gradually improving. Using a layout that doesn’t correspond to what is written on the keys helps with this because you can’t peek and I went from around 40 wpm to almost twice as fast with no dedicated training, just my ordinary use.

    I tried colemak before learning Dvorak and did not like the way it felt. It wasn’t as awkward as Qwerty but something about it felt uncomfortable. I think the placement of the backspace in place of the caps lock may make it more comfortable to learn but hurts speed and accuracy in the long term. I also find a lot of Colemak users are hurting their own agenda with the rather offputting way they promote their prefered layout. Good on them for finding something that works for them but this isn’t the Highlander. There can be more than one.

    There is also more to typing comfort than computerized measurements of finger travel.
    I actually enjoy the feel of typing with Dvorak. The way it feels and the alternation are very appealing to me and even though I often type for hours each day I have no problems with any RSI or strain.

    I think it is easier to learn if you don’t have a well established skill already with another layout and while some have issues with the placement of the xcv keys, I have never had an issue with these after getting the layout down or with the placement of the L key and typing “ls”, which is easy to fix if you have any skill at all with ‘nix. For those of you typing at really high speeds on Qwerty with no RSI issues, there is probably little to be gained by switching.

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  110. Derek on the 16th December

    This was a fascinating read, including the comments and links to the article challenging alleged Dvorak mythology. It seems to me the best way to settle the debate is to try it! I’ve trained for the past couple days and already can see the strategic advantage in the placement of the keys (granted, in the English language). It’s really easy to criticize Dvorak on theoretical grounds, but trying it may make obvious what you might have overlooked. This doesn’t require looking up some scientific paper; only practice.

    Now the other issues are you, your personality, and your particular use case. There are some users who would have so much difficulty adapting the benefits would not outweigh the drawbacks I’m sure. For example if you type out 2 short emails a day, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. That’s not me. In addition to entering tons of data daily, I like to learn new systems and skills. If long term this is better, it will be worth it.

    I have some advice for anyone attempting this: 1) Learn to touch type. Forget buying junk to stick on your keyboard. Just print out a Dvorak keypad and hang it up near your monitor. We’re just talking about remapping keys; no need to buy stuff.

    2) Learn to type the right way. The majority of people probably haven’t. Pay attention to the concept of columns. For example, 6 is supposed to be a righthand key! (On querty the first right hand column reads 6 Y H N). With this in mind, your will properly program yourself instead of learning bad habits. This is helpful no matter which style of keyboard you use.

  111. Debit on the 11th January

    Out of curiosity, I have gotten into Dvorak typing since the mid-October of 2012. My thoughts and feelings …

    1. It took about a month to barely incorporate the Dvorak layout into my ‘finger memory’. I think it would probably have taken half the time had I used Dvorak typing tutor (to go through disciplined typing drills).

    2. My Dvorak typing speed is still slower than what I had before using QWERTY. Making my Dvorak typing speed to catch up to my former QWERTY speed is going to take some time. Improvement in speed is dependent on establishing proper thought-eye-finger coordination. The less typing mistakes I make, the more my typing speed should improve.

    3. As of this moment (roughly 2.5 months since I have started Dvorak), I have already lost a significant QWERTY ‘finger memory’. In other words, if I were to try QWERTY right now, I would perform rather poorly.

    4. I think I would not have switched to Dvorak, had I been fixated on typing speed. Fortunately, I do not have to type much beyond e-mails, one-page business letters, and short essays.

    5. So far, the best thing that I like about the Dvorak layout is the fact that it is significantly more comfortable than the QWERTY layout. As I have mentioned in my previous comment, vowel placement is very important. It is more comfortable to type in a rhythm, if the strokes can more or less follow: Consonant-Vowel-C-V-C-V-… while having one hand deal with the vowels and let the other hand deal with most of the consonants.

    6. The most frequently used punctuations are placed around the ‘vowel-side’ (the left side in the Simplified Dvorak) is additional blessing.

  112. Drago on the 31st March

    I can’t believe they put QWERTY on cell phones! Idiocy persists like a herd of stubborn donkeys!

    Switched to Dvorak… after one month, i was up to my usual speed, making about as many mistakes as i would make with QWERTY. Then, when travelling, using cybercafes, and switching back and forth, was not something i could manage, because beyond a certain speed, typing is automatic and not conscious, and i would get confused unless i slowed down to think about the letters. Now I’ve gone back to Dvorak only and am happy to see that typing is faster and easier, with fewer mistakes, than ever before.

    If i use a public QWERTY keyboard, i have to “hunt&peck” and laugh at myself for looking like such a newbie.

  113. Julian on the 9th January

    I’ve been using the Colemak layout for about a year now. I cannot say that I’ve made any progess with it at all. I know the layout and where all the letters are, my fingers do too… Just forming a single sentence without making a single mistake is kinda crazy & frustrating…
    Thinking about switching over to Dvorak, but I do like the way Colemak makes the shortcuts like Ctrl-Z/X/C/V easy and adding much more as well. They do come in handy quite often.

  114. Douglas FRESH on the 3rd March

    Lets just worry about switching to metric first and go from there.

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