The Typewriter Showdown: Manual vs Electric

The Typewriter Showdown: Manual vs Electric

Posted by Anthony Padula on Aug 08, 2022


Manual vs Electric Typewriters: Decoding the Modern Classics

When it comes to typewriters, you want to research the best make and model to make your investment worthwhile. However, there is no consensus on whether manual or electric typewriters are better writing tools.

At, we figured we would end the debate once and for all.

We have broken down this contest into what we think are the six most important qualities of a typewriter.

Read on to finally discover the answers you've been searching for!


They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think we can all agree that typewriters are very beautiful machines. Early antique models have sold for thousands of dollars and make for great display pieces.

While the sleek look of an electric typewriter could be appealing for an office setting, nothing beats the classic nostalgia-filled appearance of a manual typewriter.

Manual typewriters are also more colorful, such as the Royal Classic, which comes in red, black, purple, and mint.

Winner – Manual


In a world of due dates and deadlines, the ability to finish your work quickly is imperative.

The clickety-clack of a manual typewriter may sound cool, but using its keyboard is slower than what most people expect.

By contrast, the buttons on an electric typewriter are as smooth as a computer keyboard.

Since the output is done electronically rather than by your finger, you don’t have to wait to see if the last letter you typed left a good enough impression.

Winner – Electric


Manual typewriters are wonderfully simple, but the lack of advanced writing features makes them inefficient compared to electric ones.

Many electric typewriters boast memory protection, so you can restore and save documents that you have previously typed.

They also have a correcting key that lifts mistakes off the paper like on the Nakajima WPT-150 and WPT-160, while with Manual typewriters you need white out to fix mistakes.

Winner – Electric


Both manual and electric typewriters have models that are more compact and can be easily carried, so why do manuals win this battle?

Well, the reason is shocking. Electric typewriters are just that, electric; they need electricity to function while manuals don’t need a plug to work.

Manual typewriters can be used anywhere, from the comfort of your home to deep in the woods to the mountains, making them the most portable writing method outside of pen and paper.

Winner – Manual

Ease of Use

Although it is undoubtedly more fun to press the keys on a manual typewriter, it can take some force to push each button down compared to the soft keys of an electric. Long writing sessions on a manual are bound to hurt your fingers and wrists.

Automated carriage returns on electric typewriters make the writing process much smoother. It removes the need to physically move the carriage at the end of every line.

Another issue with manual typewriters is that the type hammers sometimes collide and jam together, which causes you to have to manually untangle them from the inside of the machine. Electric typewriters don’t have this problem, as they use printwheels instead of type hammers.

Winner – Electric


All the efficiency and features of an electric typewriter cost money. A simpler writing device may be more within your budget.

Besides the initial cost, manual typewriters cost significantly less money to clean and repair than their electric counterparts.

In addition to that, manual typewriters are a long-term investment. These machines are timeless and are great heirlooms to pass down to other family members.

Winner – Manual

And the winner is … drum roll please ...

It’s a tie!

Ok, let me explain...

All this comes down to your taste, workload, and preferences.

Neither manual nor electric typewriters are better than the other. They both have their benefits and drawbacks, but either or is a great choice to use.

If you want a similar efficiency to your favorite computer, buy an electric typewriter such as an IBM Wheelwriter or a Nakajima. These machines are better for working in office environments where speed is important.

If speed isn’t an issue with you and you just want a relaxing experience or a conversation piece, check out the manual typewriters we have available such as the Royal Classic or Epoch.

There is no right or wrong answer.

At the end of the day, there’s only what you want and need right now. Take your time and browse our website - we'll be here waiting for you to make your decision.