How To Use a Typewriter

  • Typing Skills. Typewriters, in their glory days, were the office machine du jour.  The first typewriters were known as "manual" because they contained a simple exterior design: a set of keys, alpha and numeric, an inked typing ribbon, a roller platen, a margin, tab and line spacing guide, and paper insert guide. Internally, the keys are attached to metal rods that, when a key was depressed, struck the inked typing ribbon to create the letter or number image.  There are two methods of typing skills, memorizing the "qwerty" keyboard through hand exercises and "hunt and peck", which is to simply search the keyboard for the desired characters to produce a document.
  • Electric Typewriters. IBM, one of the foremost manufacturers of electric typewriters, introduced their "Selectric" typewriters, and typists in offices breathed a sigh of relief.  The first noticeable change was the keyboard itself.  It was touch sensitive.  This increased typing speed and reduced carpal tunnel syndrome in the fingers and wrists.  But, the new electric typewriters had one other advantage, "Lift Off" tape, that is, a means to backspace to a "typo" and correct it by use of the new correction key or by simply striking the typo and lifting it off the page.  In reality, this entailed erasing by means of "whiting out" the erroneous character onto the lift off tape.  Another advantage was addition of an indexing key that allowed for the typewriter carriage to remain in the same position on the margin without having to strike the carriage return key.
  • Learn How to Use a Typewriter. The first thing to do to learn how to use a typewriter is to determine whether it is manual or electric.  If it is manual, simply set the margins with the margin guides for left and right margin, set the tab key to stop at an indentation of 5 spaces, insert the paper into the paper guide, and strike the return key to the location on the top of the paper where the document will begin, and type.  It's as simple as that.

If the typewriter is electric, the basics to remember are to also set right and left margins, the tab stop and "page end" limit if the machine has a key for this feature.  Electric typewriters may also be digital or dedicated word processors.  If this is the case, there are additional features to contend with before beginning to type.


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