Day after day, year after year, we type without much need to look down. We are just used to ignoring or not caring what lies beyond the standard QWERTY keyboard. Things go wrong when we travel foreign. We input the wrong letters again and again. It’s super frustrating.
QWERTY layout is the only keyboard layout you know? Some keyboards allow you to remap the operating system’s keyboard layout setting, although the new layout won’t match the printed letter on the keyboard. Or you can get other layouts if necessary.
Here let’s take a look at some typical, popular, and regional keyboard layout. Maybe you will never need to switch your keyboard layout, but it’s good to know more, right? OK, let’s go ahead to know the popular alternative keyboard layouts.
QWERTY (the first six letters on the top row) is the standard for most keyboards around the world. How is the QWERTY layout designed? It can track back to the layout for the typewriter. The original layout for the typewriter is in alphabetical order. However, people find out when you press keys next to each other quickly, the keys would jam. So people redesign the layout to minimize the frequency typing jam. QWERTY layout is designed for the same purpose, typing far apart from each other.
QWERTY has become a standard today. QWERTY became popular with the Remington No.2 typewriter in 1878. Back to then, it’s reasonable to use the same layout for everyone. People get used to QWERTY layout even some other layout may be more efficient.
The AZERTY layout is most used by French-speaking countries across Europe and Africa. It is named from the first six letters on the first row of alphabetical keys. There are national variations in different countries and areas. It appeared firstly in France in the late decade of 19th century. Now the AZERTY layout is the de facto standard keyboard layout in France.
QWERTZ layout is used commonly in central Europe (Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and other nearby nations). QWERTZ layout varies country-by-country according to linguistic needs. “Y” is less used than “Z” in German, which explains the switching.
Dvorak layout was invented by Dr. August Dvorak in 1936. In the Dvorak layout, the most commonly used letters are placed in the home row and the least used letters are on the bottom row. Most letters are typed with the right hand in Dvorak layout, while QWERTY layout is on the opposite. People get used to the Dvorak layout argue that it’s more efficient and offers better ergonomics.
If you are not used to Dvorak layout, you may try Colemak layout. The Colemak layout is more similar to the QWERTY layout, which is easier to switch. The Colemak layout also places the most used letters on the home row, which could reduce the distance your fingers move. In the meantime, you type more times on the home row on Colemak. Colemak is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux/Unix. Colemak is the third most popular keyboard layout for touch typing in English, right after QWERTY and Dvorak.
Both Dvorak layout and Colemak layout are designed to achieve a faster typing speed. However, the final results vary on people. Someone is used to QWERTY and tired of switching and relearning. There are no certain studies to show which layout is better. In my opinion, the most suitable for you is the best.
Workman layout places commonly used keys within the natural range of motion of the fingers. It can be comfortable, ergonomic, and efficient to type. This design reduces the movement of the fingers and wrists. The fingers travel low distance.
Compared with Dvorak and Colemak layout, Workman layout use left and right hand in a more balanced and reasonable way. It’s easier to apply many combos. There are 21 characters are different from QWERTY lay. Dvorak layout has 31 different characters, and Colemak has 17. Workman layout is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. In Linux OS, Caps lock is Backspace and Shift+Caps lock is Escape.
Russia uses the Cyrillic alphabet that is super different from the Latin-based English alphabet. QWERTY layout couldn’t cover. JCUKEN layout is the default layout for Russia.
Maltron layout is designed for ergonomic needs. There are five type Maltron keyboards. Three of them are designed for disabilities. All Maltron keyboards apply Cherry switches, which make them very durable. Maltron keyboards are more expensive in comparison with other keyboards.
Layout by country
|Czech Republic||QWERTZ & QWERTY|
|Latin America||Mexico, Central and South America||QWERTY|
|Middle East/Africa||Arab world||QWERTY|
From the above table, we can easily figure out that QWERTY is still the most applied keyboard layout all over the world, although some variations are made according to linguistic needs. The keyboard layouts can also be divided according to the language, such as English, International English, Danish, French Canadian, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, or Finnish.
Leave me a comment, and let me know which keyboard layout you are using. Would you like to try other alternative keyboard layouts?