Differences Between US vs UK Keyboard Layout

Differences Between US vs UK Keyboard Layout

Differences Between US vs UK Keyboard Layout: You have seen the keyboard of your dreams. It’s nice, it has the switches you like, the lighting is impressive, and it’s also cheap. However, it is only available in English. Although, all is not lost.

Differences Between US vs UK Keyboard Layout
US English ISO keyboard. Notice that the 3 has the # and not the pound symbol

The international keyboard layout is the most popular of the devices for sale on our website. In this category, we group keyboards with UK and US layouts; they are slightly different and represent the best solution if the Italian keyboard is not available.

This keyboard layout was created to enter typical characters from other languages quickly. 

QWERTY lacks special keys for accented vowels (easily typed by holding the desired vowel and selecting the desired accent, or simply typing an apostrophe (‘) followed by the desired vowel), offering instead a wide range of easily identifiable characters and special characters.

Different layouts of English keyboards

This first model is the UK English ISO keyboard. It is the most popular type of keyboard in England and Ireland. It is also found a lot in other countries in Europe.

There is a US keyboard layout and a UK keyboard layout. There is also the US international keyboard layout, but now the song is not about it. So, in the British layout, unlike the American one:

  • The right AltGr key is not identical to the left one – they have different functions
  • Accented letters by pressing AltGr + letter
  • Pressing Shift + ‘gives @, not double quote (“)
  • Pressing Shift + 2 gives double quote (“), not @
  • Pressing Shift + 3 gives the pound symbol (£ ), and not the hash (#)
  • There is a standard possibility to enter the euro symbol (€) – AltGr + 4
  • There is no “\” key above Enter (instead it is in the opposite corner of the keyboard – to the left of Z), the
  • Enter key is larger, and the left Shift, respectively, is smaller and all sorts of other minor differences.
UK English ISO keyboard. Notice that the pound sterling is at 3
UK English ISO keyboard. Notice that the pound sterling is at 3

US English ANSI keyboard
US English ANSI keyboard

As you can see, the main difference between the most popular keyboards in the UK and the USA is that the UK one has the ISO format and the North American one the ANSI format.

ANSI is the most used format globally, and, for once, I think that ANSI is the most suitable format.

The left Shift that is used a lot is more significant.

The Enter is also more comfortable pressing to being closer to the center.

Keep in mind that ANSI has one less key. It can be a significant inconvenience depending on our usage.

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Beyond that, they also have some changed symbols like the at sign (@) and the double quotes (“), and the US keyboard has a second Alt key instead of the British Alt Gr key.

It should also be mentioned that the North Americans also have another layout based on the ISO standard. Of course, it is much less used than ANSI.

US English ISO keyboard. Notice that the 3 has the # and not the pound symbol
US English ISO keyboard. Notice that the 3 has the # and not the pound symbol

Key Differences

Alt Keys: The UK layout has an “Alt Gr” key which is different from the regular “Alt” key. The US version has two regular Alt keys.

Symbols and Numbers:

  • On a UK keyboard, Shift + ‘ results in @, but on a US keyboard, it gives “.
  • Shift + 2 on UK keyboards gives “, but on US keyboards it’s @.
  • UK keyboards have the pound (£) symbol at Shift + 3, while US keyboards display the hash (#) sign.

Key Shapes and Sizes: The UK layout has a larger “Enter” key, making the left “Shift” key smaller. The US layout has a bigger left “Shift” and a differently shaped “Enter” key.

Layout Origin:

  • Both the US and UK keyboards are QWERTY keyboards.
  • The UK layout is based on the 48 key version defined in the British standard BS 4822.

Placement of Symbols:

  • The quotation mark is positioned above the number 2 on the UK keyboard.
  • The American hash symbol is closer to the Enter key on the UK layout, which makes space for the British Pound currency symbol.
  • The tilde “~” is moved to the American hash symbol’s position and is replaced by the negation symbol on the UK keyboard.
  • The backslash “” key is moved to the left of the Z key.

Addition of Modifier Key:

  • A unique key called “Alt Graph” or “Right Alt” modifier key is added to the right of the space bar on the British keyboard.
  • This key helps in typing special characters, such as the Euro symbol.

Swapping of Symbols:

  • The American hash symbol “#” is replaced by the British Pound symbol “£”.
  • To accommodate the displaced American hash symbol, a new key is added next to the Enter key on the British keyboard.
  • The “@” sign and the quotation marks are swapped on the UK keyboard.

Laptop Key Differences:

  • On laptop computers, the vertical bar “|” and the backslash “” key are often placed next to the space bar on the UK layout.

Finding Your Key: Choosing the Right Keyboard Layout

When you’re on the hunt for a new keyboard, it’s not just about how it looks or how many fancy features it has. One of the biggest things to consider is the key layout. This is all about where the letters, numbers, and symbols are placed. And guess what? It changes depending on where you are in the world and what language you speak!

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The World of Key Layouts

In English-speaking countries, QWERTY is king. That’s the layout where the top left letters spell out. you guessed it, QWERTY. But, in Germany, they use QWERTZ, and in France, it’s AZERTY. These layouts were designed a long time ago for typewriters to stop the keys from sticking. But now, with our super-smart computers, we don’t have that problem. So, why stick to the old ways?

Break the Mold with Ergonomic Layouts

Some really clever folks have designed new layouts that are all about comfort. They put the keys you use most in the easiest spots to reach, which is kind to your fingers and can even make you type faster once you get the hang of it. In France, they have something called “Bépo.” It’s made for French typing and has special keys for French letters.

But… There’s a Catch

Here’s the thing: learning a new layout takes time. Your fingers have muscle memory from the old layout, so switching can feel like learning to type all over again. And these new layouts aren’t as common, so there aren’t as many keyboards out there to choose from.

What About the Keys Themselves?

Now, let’s talk about the keys. You’ve got flat keys, tall keys, clicky keys, squishy keys… it’s a lot! The kind you like is really up to you.

Mechanical Keyboards

These have separate switches under each key. They’re super popular with gamers because they’re fast and last a long time. They used to be loud, but now you can find ones that won’t wake up the whole house.

Chiclet Keyboards

Think of a laptop keyboard, and you’ve got the chiclet style. They have little pads under the keys that make them stable and quiet. Plus, they’re usually cheaper to make.

Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards are the quiet heroes. They work with a layer of rubber under the keys and are pretty soft to type on. They’re not as fancy as mechanical ones, but they’re affordable and do the job.

So, when you’re picking out your next keyboard, take a moment to think about the layout. Do you want to stick with what you know, or are you ready to try something new? Either way, make sure it feels good to type on because those essays and projects won’t type themselves!

Additional Differences

Here are some additional fun facts about the UK and US keyboards:

  • UK keyboards have one more key than the US keyboards.
  • Some UK keyboards do not label backspace, enter, tab, or shift with words, but instead use symbols.
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Reasons for Differences

Why do the UK and US keyboards differ? The main reason is simply legacy. Each country has different standards that have become the norm over time. There isn’t a significant reason for most of the differences, as confirmed by a keyboard layout designer on the forums of macrumors.com. They mentioned that the differences rarely have practical justification, yet people are still defensively attached to the layout they’re used to.

It’s worth noting that you can easily switch your computer’s keyboard layout within the software itself. However, the actual symbols on the keys won’t change. With enough practice, you can adapt to typing on different layouts without looking at the keys. Some individuals prefer one layout over the other, but there isn’t a definitive answer as to which keyboard is better. It mostly comes down to personal preference.

Pros & Cons

Pros of US Layout Keyboards:

The US layout is the most commonly used keyboard layout worldwide, making it easy to find and use.

The position of the @ symbol is conveniently located next to the Shift key on the right side of the keyboard, making it easy to type email addresses and other online identifiers.

The Enter key is large and in a convenient position for typing.

Cons of US Layout Keyboards:

The placement of the # symbol is less convenient, requiring the use of the Shift key to access it.

The position of the \ symbol may be less intuitive for some users, as it is located on the far right side of the keyboard.

Pros of UK Layout Keyboards:

The position of the # symbol is more convenient, located next to the Shift key on the left side of the keyboard.

The position of the \ symbol is more intuitive for some users, as it is located above the Enter key.

The UK layout is the standard layout used in the UK and other English-speaking countries outside of the US, making it a familiar option for some users.

Cons of UK Layout Keyboards:

The position of the @ symbol is less convenient, located above the 2 key on the keyboard.

The Enter key is smaller and located in a different position than on US layout keyboards, which can take some getting used to for users who are accustomed to the US layout.

Ultimately, the choice between a US or UK layout keyboard comes down to personal preference and familiarity. If you’re used to one layout, it may be difficult to switch to the other.