Computer keyboard keys | computer keyboard layout basics

Computer keyboard is a device that holds different computer keyboard keys, which are used to input commands, data or run specific programs installed in a computer system. Actually, it is the most commonly used input device in computer systems comparing to other input devices such as mouse, touch screen, voice recognition and pen devices

In this article, we will discuss about the main computer keyboard keys found on standard keyboards, layout and usage of the keys.

The layout of computer keyboard is similar to the traditional typewriter (only the layout), but adds special type of keys that speed up user interaction with a computer. In reality, the design of computer keyboard is changing day to day but the layout is the same.

Main areas of computer keyboard

In any standard computer keyboard, it is divided at least into 4 major areas:-

  • Typing
  • Numeric pad
  • Function keys
  • Cursor control keys

The typing area is the most important and busiest area where you use to input text and numbers into any type of computer application such word processors and spread sheet. Depending on your language, this area holds individual computer keyboard keys on which characters and numbers are engraved.

Most keys are stamped with single character, but there are other keys that give different meaning when you press them in combination with other keys such as Shift, Alt and Ctrl. Particularly on laptop computer there are many key combinations due to area limitation.

For example, on desktop computer keyboard, the numeric pad is arranged separately at the right side of a keyboard. However, this is not the case all the time on most laptop computers.

The numeric pad is the other area of keyboard keys used to enter numbers. It is arranged at the right side of a keyboard. The numeric pad is like an adding machine, which is used mostly by accountants and cashiers. You also find number keys at the top of the main typing area.

These keys are engraved with other characters as well such as @,#,$,%. These keys are used to enter numbers in the middle of typing a text, if you do not want to get off your hands from the main typing area.

Function keys are arranged at the top a computer keyboard starting from F1 through F12. These computer keyboard keys are commonly used by software developers to trigger a specific type of command. For example in Microsoft products, pressing F1 key will bring Help center.

Cursor and screen control keys are used to control what you see or do on current screen or document. Most of these key types found at the middle of main typing and numeric pad.

In this group of keys, directional keys, status light keys, Esc, Insert, Home, PageUp, Delete, End, PageDown keys are included.

Apart from the standard computer keyboard keys, some keyboards come with special feature keys. These keys include web-browsing, email, volume controllers, power management keys and others.

Keyboard types based on connection

There are three types of computer keyboards classified based on the connection interface. A computer keyboard can be connected with the main system in three ways.

  • USB (the most common connection type used in modern systems)
  • 6-pin connector or PS/2 (now it is becoming obsolete). This connection type is no more available in modern systems.
  • Wireless

Names of Some of the Character keys

! Exclamation mark

@ At symbol

# Octothorpe, sharp, or Hash

% Percent

^ Caret

& And or Ampersand

§ Section

/ front slash

\ back slash

~ Tilde


So far, we have discussed about a typical computer keyboard layout and the common keys found on it. Computer keyboard is the primary input device in a computer system. Understanding the layout and the function of each computer keyboard keys is essential to interact with a computer and speed up your work on a computer.

Below you will find more related articles about computer parts that may interest you to read.

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