If you do a lot of writing, it’s nice to be able to type at a speed that lets you complete a writing task as quickly and accurately as possible. Thankfully, a number of software packages are available to help you improve your typing skills. This article outlines five such utilities.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: TypingMaster Pro Typing Tutor

TypingMaster Pro Typing Tutor (Figure A) is one of the better typing tutorials on the market. It features a series of comprehensive lessons that collectively take several hours to complete. The software also tracks your progress and provides a number of statistics, even going so far as identifyiing the keys that are the most problematic for you. TypingMaster Pro Typing Tutor sells for $29.95.

Figure A

TypingMaster Pro Typing Tutor

2: Rapid Typing Tutor

Rapid Typing Tutor (Figure B) is a free utility that appears to be geared more toward beginners than experienced typists who want to increase their proficiency. It lacks many of the bells and whistles found in other typing tutorials, but it does offer a lesson editor you can use to create custom lessons.

Figure B

Rapid Typing Tutor

3: Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (Figure C) has been around for what seems like forever. I remember seeing an early version of this program on my uncle’s computer in the late 80s or very early 90s.

Figure C

Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

There isn’t a free trial of the current version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, but Download.com offers a free trial of a slightly older version, which is good for getting a feel for how the software works. It is worth mentioning, however, that the download is about 400 MB in size. Although this might not be large by today’s standards, the download was painfully slow when I attempted it. In all, downloading and installing the trial took more than an hour to complete.

The software itself really isn’t bad. Like most of the other typing tutorials on the market, it offers classroom-style lessons, typing tests, and typing games. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is available as a Deluxe Edition ($19.99) and a Platinum Edition ($29.99)

4: Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor

Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor (Figure D) is a typing tutorial that is intended for beginners and advanced typists alike. Although the Viking theme might not appeal to everyone, it does help keep the otherwise monotonous typing lessons lighthearted and somewhat fun. In addition to the typing lessons, Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor offers a variety of typing games, and it can automatically create playlists from your iTunes account so that you can rock out while you’re working on your typing skills. Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor is free to use for 10 days, but the full version costs $25.95.

Figure D

Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor

5: Bruce’s Unusual Typing Wizard

Bruce’s Unusual Typing Wizard (Figure E) is a fun and free typing tutorial, even if the interface does seem rather dated. (It works fine on Windows 7.) The program offers instructional text and then guides you through a series of typing lessons, all the while keeping track of your speed and accuracy. There is also a typing game where you have to repeat the letters that are displayed before they plummet to the bottom of the screen.

Figure E

Bruce’s Unusual Typing Wizard

Other favorites?

Have you run across another training app that’s improved your typing skills? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.