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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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A laptop computer keyboard showing the QWERTY keys

QWERTY is a keyboard layout for Latin script. The name comes from the order of the first six keys on the top left letter row of the keyboard (Q W E R T Y). The QWERTY design is based on a layout created for the Sholes and Glidden typewriter and sold to Remington in 1873. It became popular with the success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878, and remains in widespread use.


Keys are arranged on diagonal columns, to give space for the levers.

The QWERTY layout was devised and created in the early 1870s by Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper editor and printer who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In October 1867, Sholes filed a patent application for his early writing machine he developed with the assistance of his friends Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soulé.[1]

The first model constructed by Sholes used a piano-like keyboard with two rows of characters arranged alphabetically as shown below:[1]

- 3 5 7 9 N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 2 4 6 8 . A B C D E F G H I J K L M

The construction of the "Type Writer" had two flaws that made the product susceptible to jams. Firstly, characters were mounted on metal arms or typebars, which would clash and jam if neighboring arms were pressed at the same time or in rapid succession. Secondly, its printing point was located beneath the paper carriage, invisible to the operator, a so-called "up-stroke" design. Consequently, jams were especially serious, because the typist could only discover the mishap by raising the carriage to inspect what had been typed. The solution was to place commonly used letter-pairs (like "th" or "st") so that their typebars were not neighboring, avoiding jams.[citation needed]

Sholes struggled for the next five years to perfect his invention, making many trial-and-error rearrangements of the original machine's alphabetical key arrangement. The study of bigram (letter-pair) frequency by educator Amos Densmore, brother of the financial backer James Densmore, is believed to have influenced the array of letters, but the contribution was later called into question.[2] Others suggest instead that the letter groupings evolved from telegraph operators' feedback.[3]

In November 1868 he changed the arrangement of the latter half of the alphabet, O to Z, right-to-left.[4] In April 1870 he arrived at a four-row, upper case keyboard approaching the modern QWERTY standard, moving six vowel letters, A, E, I, O, U, and Y, to the upper row as follows:[5]

  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 -
    A E I . ? Y U O ,

In 1873 Sholes's backer, James Densmore, successfully sold the manufacturing rights for the Sholes & Glidden Type-Writer to E. Remington and Sons. The keyboard layout was finalized within a few months by Remington's mechanics and was ultimately presented:[6]

  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 - ,
Q W E . T Y I U O P
A X & C V B N ? ; R

After they purchased the device, Remington made several adjustments, creating a keyboard with essentially the modern QWERTY layout. These adjustments included placing the "R" key in the place previously allotted to the period key. Apocryphal claims that this change was made to let salesmen impress customers by pecking out the brand name "TYPE WRITER QUOTE" from one keyboard row are not formally substantiated.[6] Vestiges of the original alphabetical layout remained in the "home row" sequence DFGHJKL.[7]

The modern layout is:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 - =
Q W E R T Y U I O P [ ] \
A S D F G H J K L ; '
Z X C V B N M , . /

The QWERTY layout became popular with the success of the Remington No. 2 of 1878, the first typewriter to include both upper and lower case letters, using a shift key.

Differences from modern layout[edit]

Substituting characters[edit]

Christopher Latham Sholes's 1878 QWERTY keyboard layout

The QWERTY layout depicted in Sholes's 1878 patent is slightly different from the modern layout, most notably in the absence of the numerals 0 and 1, with each of the remaining numerals shifted one position to the left of their modern counterparts. The letter M is located at the end of the third row to the right of the letter L rather than on the fourth row to the right of the N, the letters X and C are reversed, and most punctuation marks are in different positions or are missing entirely.[8] 0 and 1 were omitted to simplify the design and reduce the manufacturing and maintenance costs; they were chosen specifically because they were "redundant" and could be recreated using other keys. Typists who learned on these machines learned the habit of using the uppercase letter I (or lowercase letter L) for the digit one, and the uppercase O for the zero.[9]

Combined characters[edit]

In early designs, some characters were produced by printing two symbols with the carriage in the same position. For instance, the exclamation point, which shares a key with the numeral 1 on modern keyboards, could be reproduced by using a three-stroke combination of an apostrophe, a backspace, and a period. A semicolon (;) was produced by printing a comma (,) over a colon (:). As the backspace key is slow in simple mechanical typewriters (the carriage was heavy and optimized to move in the opposite direction), a more professional approach was to block the carriage by pressing and holding the space bar while printing all characters that needed to be in a shared position. To make this possible, the carriage was designed to advance forward only after releasing the space bar.

The 0 key was added and standardized in its modern position early in the history of the typewriter, but the 1 and exclamation point were left off some typewriter keyboards into the 1970s.[10]

Contemporary alternatives[edit]

There were no particular technological requirements for the QWERTY layout[6] since at the time there were ways to make a typewriter without the "up-stroke" typebar mechanism that had required it to be devised. Not only were there rival machines with "down-stroke" and "frontstroke" positions that gave a visible printing point, the problem of typebar clashes could be circumvented completely: examples include Thomas Edison's 1872 electric print-wheel device which later became the basis for Teletype machines; Lucien Stephen Crandall's typewriter (the second to come onto the American market) whose type was arranged on a cylindrical sleeve; the Hammond typewriter of 1887 which used a semi-circular "type-shuttle" of hardened rubber (later light metal); and the Blickensderfer typewriter of 1893 which used a type wheel. The early Blickensderfer's "Ideal" keyboard was also non-QWERTY, instead having the sequence "DHIATENSOR" in the home row, these 10 letters being capable of composing 70% of the words in the English language.[11]


Alternating hands while typing is a desirable trait in a keyboard design. While one hand types a letter, the other hand can prepare to type the next letter, making the process faster and more efficient. However, when a string of letters is typed with the same hand, the chances of stuttering[clarification needed] are increased and a rhythm can be broken, thus decreasing speed and increasing errors and fatigue. In the QWERTY layout many more words can be spelled using only the left hand than the right hand. In fact, thousands of English words can be spelled using only the left hand, while only a couple of hundred words can be typed using only the right hand[12] (the three most frequent letters in the English language, ETA, are all typed with the left hand). In addition, more typing strokes are done with the left hand in the QWERTY layout. This is helpful for left-handed people but to the disadvantage of right-handed people.

Contrary to popular belief, the QWERTY layout was not designed to slow the typist down,[citation needed] but rather to speed up typing by preventing jams. Indeed, there is evidence that, aside from the issue of jamming, placing often-used keys farther apart increases typing speed, because it encourages alternation between the hands.[13] There is another origin story in the Smithsonian that the QWERTY keyboard was made for telegraph operators and has this layout to make it easy for the telegraph operator to work.[13][14][15] (On the other hand, in the German keyboard the Z has been moved between the T and the U to help type the frequent bigraphs TZ and ZU in that language.) Almost every word in the English language contains at least one vowel letter, but on the QWERTY keyboard only the vowel letter "A" is located on the home row, which requires the typist's fingers to leave the home row for most words.

A feature much less commented-on than the order of the keys is that the keys do not form a rectangular grid, but rather each column slants diagonally. This is because of the mechanical linkages – each key is attached to a lever, and hence the offset prevents the levers from running into each other – and has been retained in most electronic keyboards. Some keyboards, such as the Kinesis or TypeMatrix, retain the QWERTY layout but arrange the keys in vertical columns, to reduce unnecessary lateral finger motion.[16][17]

The words 'typewriter', 'proprietor', 'perpetuity', and 'repertoire' (from French) are the longest English words that can be written using only the keys in the top row.

Computer keyboards[edit]

The standard QWERTY keyboard layout used in the US. Some countries, such as the UK and Canada, use a slightly different QWERTY (the @ and " are switched in the UK); see keyboard layout

The first computer terminals such as the Teletype were typewriters that could produce and be controlled by various computer codes. These used the QWERTY layouts and added keys such as escape (ESC) which had special meanings to computers. Later keyboards added function keys and arrow keys. Since the standardization of PC-compatible computers and Windows after the 1980s, most full-sized computer keyboards have followed this standard (see drawing at right). This layout has a separate numeric keypad for data entry at the right, 12 function keys across the top, and a cursor section to the right and center with keys for Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down with cursor arrows in an inverted-T shape.[18]

Diacritical marks and international variants[edit]

Different computer operating systems have methods of support for input of different languages such as Chinese, Hebrew or Arabic. QWERTY is designed for English, a language with diacritical marks appearing only in a few words of foreign origin. QWERTY keyboards have no standard way of typing an accent. Until recently, no norm was defined for a standard QWERTY keyboard layout allowing the typing of accented characters. The so called "US-International layout" is, in fact, OS-dependent. There exist other layouts that try to overcome this shortcoming. One popular is EurKEY which is available for Windows, OS X and Linux.

Depending on the operating system and sometimes the application program being used, there are many ways to generate Latin characters with accents independently of the layout in use.

Other keys and characters[edit]

International variants[edit]

Minor changes to the arrangement are made for other languages. There are a large number of different keyboard layouts used for different languages written in Latin script. They can be divided into three main families according to where the Q, A, Z, M, and Y keys are placed on the keyboard. These are usually named after the first six letters.


The ACNOR keyboard

English-speaking Canadians have traditionally most often used the same keyboard layout as in the United States, unless they are in a position where they have to write French on a regular basis. French-speaking Canadians respectively have favoured the Canadian French keyboard layout (see below).

Canadian Multilingual Standard[edit]

The Canadian Multilingual Standard keyboard layout is used by some Canadians. Though this keyboard lacks the caret (^) character, this is easily accomplished by typing the circumflex accent followed by a space.

Canadian French[edit]
Canadian French keyboard layout

This keyboard layout is commonly used in Canada by French-speaking Canadians. It is the most common layout for laptops and stand-alone keyboards targeting French speakers. Unlike the French layout used in France and Belgium, the Canadian French layout is a true QWERTY and as such is also relatively commonly used by English speakers in the US and Canada (using standard QWERTY keyboards) for easy access to accented letters found in some of the French words commonly used in English. It can be used to type all accented French characters, as well as some from other languages. It also serves all English functions as well. It is popular mainly because of its close similarity to the basic US keyboard commonly used by English-speaking Canadians and Americans, historical use of US-made typewriters by French-Canadians, and is the standard for keyboards in Quebec. Use of the European French layout in Quebec is practically unheard of.

In some variants of this keyboard ⇪ Caps Lock is ⇪ Fix Maj (short for Fix Majuscule = Lock Upper Case) or ⇪ Verr Maj (short for Verrouiller Majuscule = Lock Upper Case), ↵ Enter is ↵ Entrée,[19] and Esc is Échap.

Czech (QWERTY)[edit]

Czech QWERTY keyboard layout

The typewriter came to the Czech-speaking area in the late 19th century, when it was part of Austria-Hungary where German was the dominant language of administration. Therefore, Czech typewriters have the QWERTZ layout. However, with the introduction of imported computers, especially since the 1990s, the QWERTY keyboard layout is frequently used for computer keyboards, too. Czech QWERTY layout differs from QWERTZ in that the characters (e.g. @$& and others) missing from the Czech keyboard are accessible with AltGr on the same keys where they are located on an American keyboard. In Czech QWERTZ keyboard the position of these characters accessed through AltGr differs.


Danish keyboard layout

Both the Danish and Norwegian keyboards include dedicated keys for the letters Å/å, Æ/æ and Ø/ø, but the placement is a little different, as the Æ and Ø keys are swapped on the Norwegian layout. (The Finnish–Swedish keyboard is also largely similar to the Norwegian layout, but the Ø and Æ are replaced with Ö and Ä. On some systems, the Danish keyboard may allow typing Ö/ö and Ä/ä by holding the AltGr or Option key while striking Ø and Æ, respectively.)

Dutch (Netherlands)[edit]

Dutch (Netherlands) keyboard layout

Though it is seldom used (most Dutch keyboards use US International layout),[20] the Dutch layout uses QWERTY but has additions for the € sign, the diaresis (¨), and the braces ({ }) as well as different locations for other symbols. An older version contained a single-stroke key for the Dutch character IJ/ij, which is usually typed by the combination of I and J. In the 1990s, there was a version with the now-obsolete florin sign (Dutch: guldenteken) for IBM PCs. In Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium), "AZERTY" keyboards are used instead, due to influence from the French-speaking part of Belgium.


Estonian keyboard layout

The keyboard layout used in Estonia is virtually the same as the Swedish layout. The main difference is that the Å and ¨ keys (to the right of P) are replaced with Ü and Õ respectively (the latter letter being the most distinguishing feature of the Estonian alphabet). Some special symbols and dead keys are also moved around.


Faroese keyboard layout

Basically the same as the Danish layout with added Đ, since the Faroe Islands are a self-governed part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Finnish multilingual[edit]

Finnish multilingual keyboard layout

The visual layout used in Finland is basically the same as the Swedish layout. This is practical, as Finnish and Swedish share the special characters Ä/ä and Ö/ö, and while the Swedish Å/å is unnecessary for writing Finnish, it is needed by Swedish-speaking Finns.

As of 2008, there is a new standard for the Finnish multilingual keyboard layout, developed as part of a localization project by CSC. All the engravings of the traditional Finnish–Swedish visual layout have been retained, so there is no need to change the hardware, but the functionality has been extended considerably, as additional characters (e.g., Æ/æ, Ə/ə, Ʒ/ʒ) are available through the AltGr key, as well as dead keys, which allow typing a wide variety of letters with diacritics (e.g., Ç/ç, Ǥ/ǥ, Ǯ/ǯ).[21][22]

Based on the Latin letter repertory included in the Multilingual European Subset No. 2 (MES-2) of the Unicode standard, the layout has three main objectives. First, it provides for easy entering of text in both Finnish and Swedish, the two official languages of Finland, using the familiar keyboard layout but adding some advanced punctuation options, such as dashes, typographical quotation marks, and the non-breaking space (NBSP).

Second, it is designed to offer an indirect but intuitive way to enter the special letters and diacritics needed by the other three Nordic national languages (Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic) as well as the regional and minority languages (Northern Sámi, Southern Sámi, Lule Sámi, Inari Sámi, Skolt Sámi, Romani language as spoken in Finland, Faroese, Kalaallisut also known as Greenlandic, and German).

As a third objective, it allows for relatively easy entering of particularly names (of persons, places or products) in a variety of European languages using a more or less extended Latin alphabet, such as the official languages of the European Union (excluding Bulgarian and Greek). Some letters, like Ł/ł needed for Slavic languages, are accessed by a special "overstrike" key combination acting like a dead key.[23] However, the Romanian letters Ș/ș and Ț/ț (S/s and T/t with comma below) are not supported; the presumption is that Ş/ş and Ţ/ţ (with cedilla) suffice as surrogates.


Icelandic keyboard layout

The Icelandic keyboard layout is different from the standard QWERTY keyboard because the Icelandic alphabet has some special letters, most of which it shares with the other Nordic countries: Þ/þ, Ð/ð, Æ/æ and Ö/ö. (Æ/æ also occurs in Norwegian, Danish and Faroese, Ð/ð in Faroese, and Ö/ö in Swedish, Finnish and Estonian. In Norwegian Ö/ö could be substituted for Ø/Ø which is the same sound/letter and is widely understood).

The letters Á/á, Ý/ý, Ú/ú, Í/í, and É/é can be produced with the Icelandic keyboard by first pressing the ° or ⇧ Shift+° (for ¨) dead key located below the Esc key, and then the corresponding letter. (i.e. ° followed by A yields å) These letters are not used natively in Icelandic, but may have been implemented for ease of communication in other Nordic languages.[citation needed]


Microsoft Windows Irish layout

The default keyboard layout for Irish on Microsoft Windows is the same as the UK-Extended layout.


Italian keyboard layout
  • Braces (right above square brackets and shown in purple) are given with both AltGr and Shift pressed.
  • The tilde (~) and backquote (`) characters are not present on the Italian keyboard layout (with Linux, they are available by pressing AltGr+⇧ Shift+ì, and AltGr+⇧ Shift+'; Windows might not recognise these keybindings).
  • When using Microsoft Windows, the standard Italian keyboard layout does not allow one to write 100% correct Italian language, since it lacks capital accented vowels, and in particular the È key. The common workaround is writing E' (E followed by an apostrophe) instead, or relying on the auto-correction feature of several word processors when available. It is possible to obtain the È symbol in MS Windows by typing Alt + 0200. Mac users, however, can write the correct accented character by pressing ⇧ Shift + ⌥ Option + E or, in the usual Mac way, by pressing the correct key for the accent (in this case Alt + 9) and subsequently pressing the wanted letter (in this case ⇧ Shift + E). Linux users can also write it by pressing the è key with ⇪ Caps Lock enabled.

There is an alternate layout, which differs only in disposition of characters accessible through AltGr, and includes the tilde and the curly brackets. It is commonly used in IBM keyboards.

Italian typewriters often[citation needed] have the QZERTY layout instead.

The Italian-speaking part of Switzerland uses the QWERTZ keyboard.

Latvian (QWERTY)[edit]

In Latvia, the keyboard layout usually used is called ŪGJRMV, and it is specifically designed for the language. The Latvian QWERTY keyboard layout is also used. The Latvian QWERTY keyboard layout is the same as latin ones, but with a dead key, which allows entering special characters (āčēģīķļņšūž, sometimes ō and ŗ). The most common dead key is the apostrophe ('), which is followed by Alt+Gr (Windows default for Latvian layout). Some prefer using tick (`).


The Maltese language uses Unicode (UTF-8) to display the Maltese diacritics: ċ Ċ; ġ Ġ; ħ Ħ; ż Ż (together with à À; è È; ì Ì; ò Ò; ù Ù). There are two standard keyboard layouts for Maltese, according to "MSA 100:2002 Maltese Keyboard Standard"; one of 47 keys and one of 48 keys. The 48-key layout is the most popular.


Norwegian keyboard layout
Norwegian with Sámi

The Norwegian languages use the same letters as Danish, but the Norwegian keyboard differs from the Danish layout regarding the placement of the Ø, Æ and \ (backslash) keys. On the Danish keyboard, the Ø and Æ are swapped. The Swedish keyboard is also similar to the Norwegian layout, but Ø and Æ are replaced with Ö and Ä. On some systems, the Norwegian keyboard may allow typing Ö/ö and Ä/ä by holding the AltGr or Option key while striking Ø and Æ, respectively.

There is also an alternative keyboard layout called Norwegian with Sámi, which allows for easier input of the characters required to write various Sámi (also known as Lapp) languages. All the Sámi characters are accessed through the AltGr key.

On Macintosh computers, the Norwegian and Norwegian extended keyboard layouts have a slightly different placement for some of the symbols obtained with the help of the Shift or Option keys. Notably, the $ sign is accessed with ⇧ Shift+4 and ¢ with ⇧ Shift+⌥ Option+4. Furthermore, the frequently used @ is placed between Æ and Return.


Polish typist's keyboard (QWERTZ PN-87)
Polish programmer's keyboard

Most typewriters use a QWERTZ keyboard with Polish letters (with diacritical marks) accessed directly (officially approved as "Typist's keyboard", Polish: klawiatura maszynistki, Polish Standard PN-87), which is mainly ignored in Poland as impractical (except custom-made, e.g., in public sector and some Apple computers); the "Polish programmer's" (Polish: polski programisty) layout has become the de facto standard, used on virtually all computers sold on the Polish market.

Most computer keyboards in Poland are laid out according to the standard US visual and functional layout. Polish diacritics are accessed by using the AltGr key with a corresponding similar letter from the base Latin alphabet. Normal capitalization rules apply with respect to Shift and Caps Lock keys. For example, to enter "Ź", one can type Shift+AltGr+X with Caps Lock off, or turn on Caps Lock and type AltGr+X.

Both ANSI[24] and ISO[25] mechanical layouts are common sights, and even some non-standard[26] mechanical layouts are in use. ANSI is often preferred, as the additional key provides no additional function, at least in Microsoft Windows where it duplicates the backslash key, while taking space from the Shift key. Many keyboards do not label AltGr as such, leaving the Alt marking as in the US layout - the right Alt key nevertheless functions as AltGr in this layout, causing possible confusion when keyboard shortcuts with the Alt key are required (these usually work only with the left Alt) and causing the key to be commonly referred to as right Alt (Polish: prawy Alt).[27] However, keyboards with AltGr marking are available and it is also officially used by Microsoft when depicting the layout.[28]

Key combinations to obtain Polish characters (Windows)
Caps Lock state In combination with Keystroke
Off right Alt ą ć ę ł ń ó ś ż ź
Shift & right Alt Ą Ć Ę Ł Ń Ó Ś Ż Ź
On right Alt Ą Ć Ę Ł Ń Ó Ś Ż Ź
Shift & right Alt ą ć ę ł ń ó ś ż ź
Note: On Polish programmer keyboard, right Alt plays the role of AltGr

Also, on MS Windows, the tilde character "~" (Shift+`) acts as a dead key to type Polish letters (with diacritical marks) thus, to obtain an "Ł", one may press Shift+` followed by L. The tilde character is obtained with (Shift+`) then space.

In Linux-based systems, the euro symbol is typically mapped to Alt+5 instead of Alt+U, the tilde acts as a normal key, and several accented letters from other European languages are accessible through combinations with left Alt. Polish letters are also accessible by using the compose key.

Software keyboards on touchscreen devices usually make the Polish diacritics available as one of the alternatives which show up after long-pressing the corresponding Latin letter.[29][30] However, modern predictive text and autocorrection algorithms largely mitigate the need to type them directly on such devices.


See Portuguese keyboard layout

Portuguese (Brazil) keyboard layout

The Brazilian computer keyboard layout is specified in the ABNT NBR 10346 variant 2 (alphanumeric portion) and 10347 (numeric portion) standards.

Essentially, the Brazilian keyboard contains dead keys for five variants of diacritics in use in the language; the letter Ç, the only application of the cedilla in Portuguese, has its own key. In some keyboard layouts the AltGr+C combination produces the ₢ character (Unicode 0x20A2), symbol for the old currency cruzeiro, a symbol that is not used in practice (the common abbreviation in the eighties and nineties used to be Cr$). The cent sign ¢, is accessible via AltGr+5, but is not commonly used for the centavo, subunit of previous currencies as well as the current real, which itself is represented by R$. The Euro sign € is not standardized in this layout. The masculine and feminine ordinals ª and º are accessible via AltGr combinations. The section sign § (Unicode U+00A7), in Portuguese called parágrafo, is nowadays practically only used to denote sections of laws.

Variant 2 of the Brazilian keyboard, the only which gained general acceptance (MS Windows treats both variants as the same layout),[31] has a unique mechanical layout, combining some features of the ISO 9995-3 and the JIS keyboards in order to fit 12 keys between the left and right Shift (compared to the American standard of 10 and the international of 11). Its modern, IBM PS/2-based variations, are thus known as 107-keys keyboards, and the original PS/2 variation was 104-key. Variant 1, never widely adopted, was based on the ISO 9995-2 keyboards. To make this layout usable with keyboards with only 11 keys in the last row, the rightmost key (/?°) has its functions replicated across the AltGr+Q, AltGr+W, and AltGr+E combinations.

Portuguese (Portugal) keyboard layout

Essentially, the Portuguese keyboard contains dead keys for five variants of diacritics; the letter Ç, the only application of the cedilla in Portuguese, has its own key, but there are also a dedicated key for the ordinal indicators and a dedicated key for quotation marks. The AltGr+E combination for producing the euro sign € (Unicode 0x20AC) has become standard. On some QWERTY keyboards the key labels are translated, but the majority are labelled in English.

During the 20th century, a different keyboard layout, HCESAR, was in widespread use in Portugal.

Romanian (in Romania and Moldova)[edit]

Romanian keyboard layout

The current Romanian National Standard SR 13392:2004 establishes two layouts for Romanian keyboards: a "primary"[32] one and a "secondary"[33] one.

The "primary" layout is intended for traditional users who have learned how to type with older, Microsoft-style implementations of the Romanian keyboard. The "secondary" layout is mainly used by programmers as it does not contradict the physical arrangement of keys on a US-style keyboard. The "secondary" arrangement is used as the default Romanian layout by Linux distributions, as defined in the "X Keyboard Configuration Database"[34]

There are four Romanian-specific characters that are incorrectly implemented in versions of Microsoft Windows prior to Vista:

  • Ș (U+0218, S with comma), incorrectly implemented as Ş (U+015E, S with cedilla)
  • ș (U+0219, s with comma), incorrectly implemented as ş (U+015F, s with cedilla)
  • Ț (U+021A, T with comma), incorrectly implemented as Ţ (U+0162, T with cedilla)
  • ț (U+021B, t with comma), incorrectly implemented as ţ (U+0163, t with cedilla)

The cedilla-versions of the characters do not exist in the Romanian language (they came to be used due to a historic bug).[35] The UCS now says that encoding this was a mistake because it messed up Romanian data and the letters with cedilla and the letters with comma are the same letter with a different style.[36]

Since Romanian hardware keyboards are not widely available, Cristian Secară has created a driver that allows Romanian characters to be generated with a US-style keyboard in all versions of Windows prior to Vista through the use of the AltGr key modifier.[37]

MS Windows 7 now includes the correct diacritical signs in the default Romanian Keyboard layout. This layout has the Z and Y keys mapped like in English layouts and also includes characters like the 'at' (@) and dollar ($) signs, among others. The older cedilla-version layout is still included albeit as the 'Legacy' layout.

Slovak (QWERTY)[edit]

Slovak QWERTY/Z keyboard layout

In Slovakia, similarly to the Czech Republic, both QWERTZ and QWERTY keyboard layouts are used. QWERTZ is the default keyboard layout for Slovak in Microsoft Windows.


Spain, also known as Spanish (International sort)[edit]
Spanish keyboard layout

The Spanish keyboard layout is used to write in Spanish and in other languages of Spain such as Aragonese, Asturian, Catalan, Occitan, Galician and Basque. It includes Ñ for Spanish, Asturian and Galician, the acute accent, the diaeresis, the left question and exclamation marks (¿, ¡) and, finally, some characters required only for typing Catalan and Occitan that are Ç, the grave accent and the interpunct (punt volat / punt interior, used in l·l, n·h, s·h; located at Shift-3). It can also be used to write other international characters, such as the circumflex accent (used in French and Portuguese among others) and the tilde (used in both Spanish and Portuguese), which are available as dead keys. However, it lacks two characters used in Asturian: and (historically, general support for these two has been poor – they aren't present in the ISO 8859-1 character encoding standard, or any other ISO/IEC 8859 standard); several alternative distributions, based on this one or created from scratch, have been created to address this issue (see the Other original layouts and layout design software section for more information).

On most keyboards, € is marked as Alt Gr + E and not Alt Gr + 5 as shown in the image. However, in some keyboards, € is found marked twice. An alternative version exists, supporting all of ISO 8859-1.[38]

Spanish keyboards are usually labelled in Spanish instead of English, its abbreviations being:

Spanish label English equivalent
Insertar (Ins) Insert (Ins)
Suprimir (Supr) Delete (Del)
Retroceder página (Re Pág) Page up (PgUp)
Avanzar página (Av Pág) Page down (PgDn)
Inicio Home
Fin End
Imprimir pantalla / Petición de sistema (Impr Pant/PetSis) Print Screen / System request (PrtScn/SysRq)
Bloqueo de mayúsculas (Bloq Mayús) Caps Lock
Bloqueo numérico (Bloq Num) Num Lock
Bloqueo de desplazamiento (Bloq Despl) Scroll Lock
Pausa / Interrumpir (Pausa/Inter) Pause/Break
Intro Enter

The c-cedilla key (Ç), instead of on the right of the acute accent key (´), is located alternatively on some keyboards one or two lines above. In some cases it's placed on the right of the plus sign key (+).[39][40] In other keyboards it's situated on the right of the inverted exclamation mark key (¡).[41][42]

Hispanic America[edit]
Latin American Spanish keyboard layout

The Hispanic American Spanish keyboard layout is used throughout Mexico, Central and South America. Before its design, Hispanic American vendors had been selling the Spanish (Spain) layout as default.

Its most obvious difference from the Spanish (Spain) layout is the lack of a Ç key; on Microsoft Windows it lacks a tilde (~) dead key, whereas on Linux systems the dead tilde can be optionally enabled. This is not a problem when typing in Spanish, but it is rather problematic when typing in Portuguese, which can be an issue in countries with large commercial ties to Brazil (Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay).

Normally "Bloq Mayús" is used instead of "Caps Lock", and "Intro" instead of "Enter".


Swedish Windows keyboard layout

The central characteristics of the Swedish keyboard are the three additional letters Å/å, Ä/ä, and Ö/ö. The same visual layout is also in use in Finland, as the letters Ä/ä and Ö/ö are shared with the Swedish language, and even Å/å is needed by Swedish-speaking Finns. However, the Finnish multilingual keyboard adds new letters and punctuation to the functional layout.

The Norwegian keyboard largely resembles the Swedish layout, but the Ö and Ä are replaced with Ø and Æ. The Danish keyboard is also similar, but it has the Ø and Æ swapped. On some systems, the Swedish or Finnish keyboard may allow typing Ø/ø and Æ/æ by holding the AltGr or Option key while striking Ö and Ä, respectively.

The Swedish with Sámi keyboard allows typing not only Ø/ø and Æ/æ, but even the letters required to write various Sámi (also known as Lapp) languages. This keyboard has the same function for all the keys engraved on the regular Swedish keyboard, and the additional letters are available through the AltGr key.

On Macintosh computers, the Swedish and Swedish Pro keyboards differ somewhat from the image shown above, especially as regards the characters available using the Shift or Option keys. ⇧ Shift+§ (on the upper row) produces the ° sign, and ⇧ Shift+4 produces the sign. The digit keys produce ©@£$∞§|[]≈ with ⌥ Option and ¡"¥¢‰¶\{}≠ with ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift.

On Linux systems, the Swedish keyboard may also give access to additional characters as follows:

  • first row: AltGr ¶¡@£$€¥{[]}\± and AltGr+⇧ Shift ¾¹²³¼¢⅝÷«»°¿¬
  • second row: AltGr @ł€®þ←↓→œþ"~ and AltGr+⇧ Shift ΩŁ¢®Þ¥↑ıŒÞ°ˇ
  • third row: AltGr ªßðđŋħjĸłøæ´ and AltGr+⇧ Shift º§ÐªŊĦJ&ŁØÆ×
  • fourth row: AltGr |«»©""nµ¸·̣ and AltGr+⇧ Shift ¦<>©‘’Nº˛˙˙

Several of these characters function as dead keys.

Turkish (Q-keyboard)[edit]

Turkish Q-keyboard layout

Today the majority of Turkish keyboards are based on QWERTY (the so-called Q-keyboard layout), although there is also the older F-keyboard layout specifically designed for the language.

United Kingdom[edit]

United Kingdom and Ireland (except Mac) keyboard layout
United Kingdom Keyboard layout for Linux

The United Kingdom and Ireland[nb 1] use a keyboard layout based on the 48-key version defined in (the now withdrawn) British Standard BS 4822.[43] It is very similar to that of the United States, but has an extra key and a larger Enter key, includes £ and € signs and some rarely used EBCDIC symbols (¬, ¦), and uses different positions for the characters @, ", #, ~, \, and |. See the article British and American keyboards for details.

The BS 4822:1994 standard did not make any use of the AltGr key and lacked support for any non-ASCII characters other than ¬ and £. It also assigned a key for the non-ASCII character broken bar (¦), but lacks one for the far more commonly used ASCII character vertical bar (|). It also lacked support for various diacritics used in the Welsh alphabet, and the Scottish Gaelic alphabet; and also is missing the letter yogh, ȝ, used very rarely in the Scots language. Therefore, various manufacturers have modified or extended the BS 4822 standard:

  • The B00 key (left of Z) shifted results in vertical bar (|) on some systems (e.g. Windows UK/Ireland keyboard layout and Linux/X11 UK/Ireland keyboard layout), rather than the broken bar (¦) assigned by BS 4822 and provided in some systems (e.g. IBM OS/2 UK166 keyboard layout)
  • The E00 key (left of 1) with AltGr provides either vertical bar (|) (OS/2's UK166 keyboard layout, Linux/X11 UK keyboard layout) or broken bar (¦) (Microsoft Windows UK/Ireland keyboard layout)

In many Commonwealth countries and other English-speaking jurisdictions (e.g., Canada, Australia, the Caribbean nations, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, New Zealand, and South Africa), local spelling conforms more closely to British English usage, while the supplied keyboard is or based on the English (US) keyboard. In Windows 8 and later versions, the backslash (\) key (left of Z or space) is duplicated onto the hash (#) key (left of Enter), press which with Alt Gr key to type backslash (\), with Alt Gr and Shift keys to type vertical bar (|). This aids users who are familiar with UK keyboard layout while the keyboard lacks this key (e.g. US Standard keyboard and Japan JIS keyboard).

UK Apple keyboard[edit]
United Kingdom version of Apple keyboard

The British version of the Apple Keyboard does not use the standard UK layout. Instead, some older versions have the US layout (see below) with a few differences: the £ sign is reached by ⇧ Shift+3 and the # sign by ⌥ Option+3, the opposite to the US layout. The is also present and is typed with ⌥ Option+2. Umlauts are reached by typing ⌥ Option+U and then the vowel, and ß is reached by typing ⌥ Option+S.

Newer Apple "British" keyboards use a layout that is relatively unlike either the US or traditional UK keyboard. It uses an elongated return key, a shortened left ⇧ Shift with ` and ~ in the newly created position, and in the upper left of the keyboard are § and ± instead of the traditional EBCDIC codes. The middle-row key that fits inside the return key has \ and Pipe symbol.

United Kingdom (Extended) Layout[edit]
United Kingdom Extended Keyboard Layout for Windows
United Kingdom Extended Keyboard Layout for Linux
United Kingdom International Keyboard Layout for Linux

From Windows XP SP2 onwards, Microsoft has included a variant of the British QWERTY keyboard (the "United Kingdom Extended" keyboard layout) that can additionally generate several diacritical marks. This supports input on a standard physical UK keyboard for many languages without changing positions of frequently used keys, which is useful when working with text in Welsh and Scottish Gaelic — languages native to parts of the UK (Wales and parts of Scotland respectively).

Although the rarely used grave accent key becomes, as it also does in the US International layout, a dead key modifying the character generated by the next key pressed, the apostrophe, double-quote, tilde and caret keys are not changed. Instead, the additional characters are obtained using the AltGr key. The extended keyboard is software installed from the Windows control panel, and the extended characters are not normally engraved on keyboards.

Apple's Mac OS X does not include UK Extended, as it has key combinations for accents on any keyboard layout.

The UK International keyboard uses mostly the AltGr key to add diacritics to the letters a, e, i, n, o, u, w and y (the last two being used in Welsh) as appropriate for each character, as well as to their capitals. Pressing the key and then a character that does not take the specific diacritic produces the behaviour of a standard keyboard. The key presses followed by spacebar generate a stand-alone mark.:

  • grave accents (e.g. à, è, etc.) are generated by pressing the grave accent/backtick key `, which is now a dead key, then the letter.
  • acute accents (e.g. á) are generated by pressing the AltGr key together with the letter, or AltGr+' (acting as a dead key combination) followed by the letter. Some programs use the combination of AltGr and a letter for other functions, in which case the AltGr+' method must be used to generate acute accents.
  • a circumflex (e.g. â, ê, etc.) is added by AltGr+6, acting as a dead key combination, followed by the letter.
  • diaeresis or umlaut (e.g. ä, ë, ö, etc.) is generated by a dead key combination AltGr+2, then the letter.
  • tilde (e.g. ã, ñ, õ, etc., as used in Spanish and Portuguese) is generated by dead key combination AltGr+#, then the letter.
  • cedilla (e.g. ç) under c is generated by AltGr+C, and the capital letter (Ç) is produced by AltGr+⇧ Shift+C

The AltGr and letter method used for acutes and cedillas does not work for applications which assign shortcut menu functions to these key combinations. For acute accents the AltGr and apostrophe method should be used.

These combinations are intended to be mnemonic and designed to be easy to remember: the circumflex accent (e.g. â) is similar to a caret (^), printed above the 6 key; the diaeresis/umlaut (e.g. ö) is visually similar to the double-quote (") above 2 on the UK keyboard; the tilde (~) is printed on the same key as the #.

The UK extended layout is almost entirely transparent to users familiar with the UK layout. A machine with the extended layout behaves exactly as with the standard UK, except for the rarely used grave accent key. This makes this layout suitable for a machine for shared or public use by a user population in which some use the extended functions.

Despite being created for multilingual users, UK-Extended does have some gaps — there are many languages that it cannot cope with, including Romanian and Turkish, and all languages with different character sets, such as Greek and Russian. It also does not cater for the ß in German, nor for the å, æ, ø, ð, þ in Nordic languages.

United States[edit]

United States keyboard layout

The arrangement of the character input keys and the Shift keys contained in this layout is specified in the U.S. American national standard ANSI-INCITS 154-1988 (R1999) (formerly ANSI X3.154-1988 (R1999)),[44] where this layout is called "ASCII keyboard". The complete US keyboard layout, as it is usually found, also contains the usual function keys in accordance with the international standard ISO/IEC 9995-2, although this is not explicitly required by the US American national standard.

US keyboards are used not only in the United States, but also in many other English-speaking places, including India, Australia, English Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and Philippines. However, the United Kingdom and Ireland use a slightly different layout.

The US keyboard layout has a second Alt key instead of the AltGr key and does not use any dead keys; this makes it inefficient for all but a handful of languages. On the other hand, the US keyboard layout (or the similar UK layout) is occasionally used by programmers in countries where the keys for []{} are located in less convenient positions on the locally customary layout.[45]

On some keyboards the enter key is bigger than traditionally and takes up also a part of the line above, more or less the area of the traditional location of the backslash key (\). In these cases the backslash is located in alternative places.[46] It can be situated one line above the default location, on the right of the equals sign key (=).[47][48] Sometimes it's placed one line below its traditional situation, on the right of the apostrophe key (') (in these cases the enter key is narrower than usual on the line of its default location).[49] It may also be two lines below its default situation on the right of a narrower than traditionally right shift key.[50]

A variant of this layout is used in Arabic-speaking countries.

This variant has the | \ key to the left of Z, ~ ` key where the | \ key is in the usual layout, and the > < key where the ~ ` key is in the usual layout.[38]
US-International keyboard layout (Windows)

An alternative layout uses the physical US keyboard to type diacritics in some operating systems (including Windows). This is the US-International layout, which uses the right Alt key as an AltGr key to support many additional characters directly as an additional shift key. (Since many smaller keyboards don't have a right Alt key, Windows also allows Ctrl+Alt to be used as a substitute for AltGr.) This layout also uses keys ', `, ", ^ and ~ as dead keys to generate characters with diacritics by pressing the appropriate key, then the letter on the keyboard. The international keyboard is a software setting installed from the Windows control panel[51] or similar; the additional functions (shown in blue) may or may not be engraved on the keyboard, but are always functional. It can be used to type most major languages from Western Europe: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, Faroese, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, and Swedish. Some less common western European languages, such as Maltese and Welsh, are not fully supported by the US-International keyboard layout.

A diacritic key is activated by pressing and releasing it, then pressing the letter that requires a diacritic. After the two strokes, the single character with diacritics is generated. Note that only certain letters, such as vowels and "n", can have diacritics in this way. To generate the symbols ', `, ", ^ and ~, when the following character is capable of having a diacritic, press the Spacebar after the key.

Characters with diacritics can be typed with the following combinations:

  • ' + vowel → vowel with acute accent, e.g., '+e → é
  • ` + vowel → vowel with grave accent, e.g., `+e → è
  • " + vowel → vowel with diaeresis (or umlaut), e.g., "+e → ë
  • ^ + vowel → vowel with circumflex accent, e.g., ^+e → ê
  • ~ + a, n or o → letter with tilde, e.g. ~+n → ñ, ~+o → õ
  • ' + c → ç (Windows) or ć (X11)

The US-International layout is not entirely transparent to users familiar with the US layout; when using a machine with the international layout the commonly used single- and double-quote keys and the less commonly used grave accent, tilde, and caret keys behave unexpectedly. This could be disconcerting on a machine for shared or public use.

There are also alternative US-International formats, whereby modifier keys such as shift and alt are used, and the keys for the characters with diacritics are in different places from their unmodified counterparts, for example, using the AltGr modifier key to activate dead keys, so that the ASCII quotation marks or circumflex symbol are not affected and can be typed normally with a single keystroke.

US-International in the Netherlands[edit]

The standard keyboard layout in the Netherlands is US-International, as it provides easy access to diacritics on common UK- or US-like keyboards. The Dutch layout is historical, and keyboards with this layout are rarely used. Many US keyboards sold do not have the extra US-International characters or AltGr engraved on the keys, although € (AltGr+5) always is; nevertheless, the keys work as expected even if not marked. Many computer-literate Dutch people have retained the old habit of using Alt + number codes to type accented characters; others routinely type without diacritics, then use a spelling checker to produce the correct forms.[citation needed]

Apple International English Keyboard[edit]
International English version of Apple keyboard

There are three kinds of Apple Keyboards for English: the United States, the United Kingdom and International English. The International English version is almost identical to the United States version, but some features are identical to the United Kingdom version:

  1. The ~
    key is located on the left of the Z key, and the
    key is located on the right of the "
  2. The ±
    key is added on the left of the !
  3. The left ⇧ Shift key is shortened and the Return key has the shape of inverted L.


Vietnamese keyboard layout

The Vietnamese keyboard layout is an extended Latin QWERTY layout. The letters Ă, Â, Ê, and Ô are found on what would be the number keys 14 on the US English keyboard, with 59 producing the tonal marks (grave accent, hook, tilde, acute accent and dot below, in that order), 0 producing Đ, = producing the đồng sign (₫) when not shifted, and brackets ([]) producing Ư and Ơ.[52]


EurKEY[53] is a free and open source US-based layout which provides easy access to many diacritics of European languages as well as to common math symbols and Greek letters. It is available for Windows, OS X, Linux (shipped with xkeyboard-config).

Alternatives to QWERTY[edit]

Several alternatives to QWERTY have been developed over the years, claimed by their designers and users to be more efficient, intuitive, and ergonomic. Nevertheless, none have seen widespread adoption, partly due to the sheer dominance of available keyboards and training.[54] Although some studies have suggested that some of these may allow for faster typing speeds,[55] many other studies have failed to do so, and many of the studies claiming improved typing speeds were severely methodologically flawed or deliberately biased, such as the studies administered by Dvorak himself before and after World War II.[citation needed] Economists Stan Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis have noted that rigorous studies are inconclusive as to whether they actually offer any real benefits,[56] and some studies on keyboard layout have suggested that, for a skilled typist, layout is largely irrelevant – even randomized and alphabetical keyboards allow for similar typing speeds to QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards, and that switching costs always outweigh the benefits of further training on whichever keyboard you already use.

The most widely used such alternative is the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard; another alternative is Colemak, which is based partly on QWERTY and is claimed to be easier for an existing QWERTY typist to learn while offering several supposed optimisations.[57] Most modern computer operating systems support these and other alternative mappings with appropriate special mode settings, with some modern operating systems allowing the user to map their keyboard in any way they like, but few keyboards are manufactured with keys labeled according to any other standard.

Comparison to other keyboard input systems[edit]

Some people have compared Dvorak and QWERTY to other keyboard input systems, namely stenotype and its implementations (e.g., opensource PLOVER [1]). These systems provide some advantage (including a 700% increase in efficiency over QWERTY[58]) but they are fundamentally different from ordinary typing. Words are input by pressing on several keys and releasing simultaneously but don't require the keys to be pressed down in any order. Neither is the spacebar used. There is a learning hurdle in that hunt and peck does not work. However, it is easy to write at 180–300 wpm.[citation needed] It is worth noting that PLOVER stenotype theory[clarification needed] required a stenotype machine prior to 2010; due to the inherent difficulties of chording QWERTY was invented to allow machines to be made that didn't jam up; stenotype was invented for maximum speed and accuracy.[citation needed]

The first typed shorthand machines appeared around 1880, roughly current with QWERTY, but the first stenotype machines appeared in 1913.[citation needed] Also, these machines' output needed to be interpreted by a trained professional, comparable to reading Gregg shorthand, which was very much in vogue at the time and taught publicly until the 1980s.[citation needed] Gregg shorthand also didn't require much more than training and a pen, however machines gradually gained traction in the courtroom. Modern PLOVER immediately provides translated output, making it very much like other keyboard setups that immediately produce legible work.

Half QWERTY[edit]

The Nokia E55 uses a half QWERTY keyboard layout.

A half QWERTY keyboard is a combination of an alpha-numeric keypad and a QWERTY keypad, designed for mobile phones.[59] In a half QWERTY keyboard, two characters share the same key, which reduces the number of keys and increases the surface area of each key, useful for mobile phones that have little space for keys.[59] It means that 'Q' and 'W' share the same key and the user must press the key once to type 'Q' and twice to type 'W'.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b US 79868, Shole, C. Latham; Carlos Glidden & Samuel W. Soule, "Improvement in Type-writing Machines", issued July 14, 1868 
  2. ^ Koichi Yasuoka: The Truth of QWERTY, entry dated August 01, 2006.
  3. ^ Stamp, Jimmy. "Fact of Fiction? The Legend of the QWERTY Keyboard". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Koichi and Motoko Yasuoka: Myth of QWERTY Keyboard, Tokyo: NTT Publishing, 2008. pp.12-20
  5. ^ Koichi and Motoko Yasuoka: Myth of QWERTY Keyboard, Tokyo: NTT Publishing, 2008. pp.24-25
  6. ^ a b c Koichi and Motoko Yasuoka: On the Prehistory of QWERTY, ZINBUN, No.42, pp.161-174, 2011.
  7. ^ David, Paul A. (1985), "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY", American Economic Review, American Economic Association, 75 (2): 332–337, JSTOR 1805621 
  8. ^ US 207559, Sholes, Christopher Latham, issued August 27, 1878 
  9. ^ Weller, Charles Edward (1918), The early history of the typewriter, La Porte, Indiana: Chase & Shepard, printers 
  10. ^ See for example the Olivetti Lettera 36, introduced in 1972
  11. ^ Shermer, Michael (2008). The mind of the market. Macmillan. p. 50. ISBN 0-8050-7832-0. 
  12. ^ Diamond, Jared (April 1997), "The Curse of QWERTY", Discover, retrieved 2009-04-29, More than 3,000 English words utilize QWERTY's left hand alone, and about 300 the right hand alone. 
  13. ^ a b " least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since consecutive letters are often typed with alternate hands". 
  14. ^ Stamp, Jimmy. "Fact of Fiction? The Legend of the QWERTY Keyboard". 
  15. ^ Madrigal, Alexis C. "The Lies You've Been Told About the Origin of the QWERTY Keyboard". 
  16. ^ Kinesis – Ergonomic Benefits of the Contoured Keyboard – Vertical key layout
  17. ^ TypeMatrix. "TypeMatrix - The Keyboard is the Key". 
  18. ^ Castillo, M. (2 September 2010). "QWERTY, @, &, #". American Journal of Neuroradiology. 32: 613. doi:10.3174/ajnr.a2228. 
  19. ^ "Fren-Canadian keyboard". Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  20. ^ Koenen, Liesbeth; Smits, Rik (1 January 2004). "Handboek Nederlands". Bijleveld – via Google Books. 
  21. ^ SFS 5966 (keyboard layout), Finnish Standards Association SFS, November 3, 2008, retrieved April 19, 2015 . Finnish-Swedish multilingual keyboard setting.
  22. ^ Kotoistus (December 12, 2006), Uusi näppäinasettelu [Status of the new Keyboard Layout] (presentation page collecting drafts of the Finnish Multilingual Keyboard) (in Finnish and English), CSC IT Center for Science, retrieved April 19, 2015 
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Informational notes

  1. ^ There is a separate Irish Gaelic keyboard layout, but this is rarely used. In all common operating systems that have a different selection for Irish, this refers to the layout that is identical with the UK layout, not the Irish Gaelic layout; the latter tends to be called Gaelic or similar.

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