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Data Entry and Processing - Overview


Programs in data entry and processing teach people data entry skills. Students learn computer software programs for data entry and information organizing. They learn to work with word processing programs and spreadsheets.

Do you enjoy hearing your favorite guitarist play a blindingly fast solo? Or maybe there's a pianist whose keyboard wizardry you admire. You can gain a reputation as Mr. or Ms. Speedfingers and be a star at a different kind of keyboard if you study data entry and processing. And, even though you may not be on next year's Lollapalooza tour, you can start a business career with this skill.

When you study this subject, one goal is to increase your keyboard speed. You may need to meet a specific goal, such as an average of 50 words per minute, with no more than 4 errors, in a five-minute session.

But data entry is not just about keyboard speed. When you study word processing, you learn how to format text to achieve the layout and general appearance the job requires. For example, you may need to create a table that has double borders and does not let rows split at page-breaks. Or you may need to give paragraphs hanging indentation. You also learn how to enter data into specialized programs that present separate fields for each category of information that you must input.

Ten-key data entry - that means entering figures rapidly on the numerical keypad at the right end of the keyboard and on other specialized machines - is another skill you learn or improve on. You may need to meet a specific speed, such as 10,000 keystrokes per hour. Numerical data is often used in spreadsheet software, so you learn the basic principles of how to set up a spreadsheet and create simple formulas, such as summing a column of figures.

Nowadays not all data entry is done by keystrokes. So you also learn how to use a scanner and optical character recognition (OCR) software. You learn how to scan text from a printed document and clean up the errors that always occur.

Rapid data entry takes a lot of practice. You should start by learning touch-typing in high school or earlier. In fact, you may be able to learn data entry and processing at a vocational high school and enter the work force directly from graduation.

Or you may study this subject in a certificate program. A large number of community colleges offer such a program. So do many proprietary schools. Of these, about 50 are approved by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Usually they take about a year of full-time study to complete. The Job Corps also offers two-month training programs that cover the basic skills.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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