_                    _ _  __ _   _                _       
   / \   _ __ ___  _ __ | (_)/ _(_) | |__   ___  __ _| |_ ___ 
  / _ \ | '_ ` _ \| '_ \| | | |_| | | '_ \ / _ \/ _` | __/ __|
 / ___ \| | | | | | |_) | | |  _| | | |_) |  __/ (_| | |_\__ \
/_/   \_\_| |_| |_| .__/|_|_|_| |_| |_.__/ \___|\__,_|\__|___/

Keyboard Layouts - An introduction

Let's steal a paragraph from wikipedia:

A keyboard layout is any specific physical, visual or functional arrangement of the keys, legends, or key-meaning associations (respectively) of a computer keyboard, mobile phone, or other computer-controlled typographic keyboard.

Keyboards are really cool! There are computer ones, software ones, and music ones. But I'll be writing about computer ones, and a bit of software too.

How do keyboards work?

(this is a very high-level idea of how they work)

When a key is pressed or actuated, it sends a scancode to your operating system. This details the key's row and column, not the character. The OS will convert this scancode into a binary character, using a conversion table (aka keyboard mapping). This allows you to totally change what is typed on a page, without physically changing the keyboard keys.

Key types

(care is taken to include major OS specific keys)



QWERTY layouts and variants

Made when typewriters were made, designed to be slow to prevent the keys jamming, all the common keys are as far away from each other as possible. Though that won't stop me type at ~112 wpm

This is the most common layout, the most common variant being the ISO (UK) as apposed to ANSI (US)


French layout

French/Belgian layout


German T2 layout

Central European "kezboard" layout, this exists because of two very important reasons:

Then there are umlauted characters


no image reference availabe

Italian layout for typewriters, although computer keyboards mostly use QWERTY:

Sizing and stuff

examples of 100,80 and 60% keyboard layouts


Dvorak layout

named after it's author, August Dvorak. the most common keys are found in the home row


Colemak US

basically Dvorak and QWERTY's love child, makes it easier to learn for the uninitiated without sacrificing efficiency


Neo layer 1

The positions of the letters are not only optimised for German letter frequency, but also for typical groups of two or three letters. English is considered a major target as well.

Neo layer 3

the layers appear to allow many different character sets, although I haven't a clue


hexagonal layout

The honeycomb layout has hexagon keys and was invented by Typewise in cooperation with the ETH Zurich

somewhat honourable mentions

Maltron 3D


this article was written on my phone, expect spelling mistakes. I turned off autocorrect in Florisboard (which is an amazing keyboard btw. qwerty ofc)

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