The largest-ever dataset on typing speeds and styles, based on 136 million keystrokes from 168,000 volunteers, finds that the fastest typists not only make fewer errors, but they often type the next key before the previous one has been released.

Participants were asked to transcribe randomised sentences, and their accuracy and speed were assessed by the researchers.

However, they also found that the fastest typists also performed between 40 and 70 percent of keystrokes using rollover typing, in which the next key is pressed down before the previous key is lifted.

The results will be presented later this month at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Montréal.

"Crowdsourcing experiments that allow us to analyse how people interact with computers on a large scale are instrumental for identifying solution principles for the design of next-generation user interfaces," said study co-author Dr Per Ola Kristensson from Cambridge's Department of Engineering.

Another difference is that modern users use their hands differently.

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