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Keyboard Layouts Types Which One Would You Select? ANSI vs. ISO Keyboard

We'veĀ recently seen on several mechanical keyboard forums that some users ask for information on Keyboard Layouts Types ANSIĀ vs ISO keyboards. We conducted some research and will share what we discovered in this post. What are the critical differences between ANSIĀ vs ISO mechanical keyboards?

WhatĀ is ANSIĀ vs ISO?

There are two types of world standards: ANSIĀ vs ISO. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are two organizations that create international standards. The two keyboard layouts types below describe the size and position of the keys. These are not the same as logical layouts such as QWERTY, Colemak, Dvorak, etc. The size and orientation of the Enter key, Backslash, and Left Shift keys are different on ANSIĀ vs ISO keyboards.

Many mechanical keyboard users claim that the keyboard layout is highly subjective, yet each style has advantages and drawbacks.

ANSIĀ vs ISO Keyboard Layouts Types

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The physical layouts of ANSIĀ vs ISO differ in many respects, including the keycap shapes and sizes.

Ā  ANSI Layout ISO Layout
Enter Key

Enter key is a wide rectangle shape. Most often seen on keyboards available in the United States.

Enter key is an upside-down L-shape on the ISO layout.

Backslash Key

The backslash key is above the Enter key and requires stretching the fingers to reach it.

The backslash key isĀ on the left of the Enter key, so your fingers don't have to stretch as far.

Left Shift key

The size of the Left shift key is identical to the Right shift key.

The left shift key is about half the size of the right shift key and compares to the size of the Ctrl key.

Right Alt key

Left and Right Alt keys are also identical on the ANSI layout

Alt Gr key replaces the right Alt key.

The Number of Keys

104 keys on a full-size keyboard, alsoĀ 87-keys for a standard Tenkeyless TKL layout.

105 keys on a full-sized keyboard and 88 keys on a TKL keyboard.

The Commonality of Keycap Sets

ANSI layout keycaps are readily available and therefore simple to replace.

The ISO keycap sets are less popular since replacement keycaps are challenging to find. Many people in countries that use ISO layouts acquire an ANSI keyboard because replacement keycap sets for ANSI are plentiful.

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What is ANSI?

ANSI is a non-profit organization that establishes national norms and runs the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). ANSI layout is the necessary keyboard arrangement developed by the American National Standards Institute. The operations office of the American National Standards Institute is in New York.

The American National Standards Institute is the standard design in the United States, but other countries also use it. ANSI layout is one of the most popular keyboard layouts types in use today.

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The ANSI layout was introduced by IBM in 1985 and eventually became the standard US layout. The ANSI layout is the standard for all keyboards designed in the United States or produced in Asia and sold to Americans. In 1995, Microsoft changed the layout with new keys such as the Ctrl key and Alt key, and Windows key, but the rest of the keys remained unaltered.

The Benefits of an ANSI Layout

The most popular keyboard layouts types is the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) layout. The ANSI keyboard has excellent Ergonomics, and you will have a pleasurable typing experience. The keys are well-located for fast typing. Keycaps are increasingly accessible as the ANSI layout is widespread among keyboards.

Drawbacks of an ANSI layoutĀ 

Although the ANSI layout is the most-used of the two, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The backslash key is far from the enter key on an ANSI keyboard. It will be pretty challenging to reach with your finger given your specific typing position. The Enter key is a rectangular block shape that may be hard to notice during rapid typing. The ANSI layout has less support for non-English languages, which necessitates the use of additional symbol keys. For other international languages, the ISO keyboard arrangement is significantly better.

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The ISO Keyboard

On an ISO keyboard, the Alt Graph key allows you to access the third symbol on a key. By simultaneously pressing Shift and Alt Gr, you may access the fourth character on the key.

The left shift key is the only significant distinction between ANSIĀ vs ISO layouts. The left shift key is one sizable rectangular key in ANSI layouts. The shift key in ISO layouts is divided into two keys, making that one-key difference. This extra button will usually be the angle bracket key <>.

But when it comes to fully programmable keyboards, what you do with the extra key is entirely up to you. The ISO layout permits you to add another key. Perhaps it's a symbol or something else in a different language.

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Drawbacks of an ISO Layout

The Enter key requires your finger to extend somewhat more to press it.

The Backslash is closer to your finger on the ISO layout, but the Enter Key is farther away from the home row. The center of the keyboard is where you generally keep your hands when typing. On an ISO layout, it's more uncomfortable to reach the Enter key from the home row.

You can quickly reach over one key on an ANSI layout and press the Enter key. But with the ISO layout, your finger must leap over two keys to type Enter; this may be a problem from an ergonomic standpoint due to the frequent use of the Enter key.

Is the Backslash a Significant Factor?

On ISO, the Backslash is closer, although it's not an often-used key. It's typically required when entering file paths in the Command Prompt or Terminal window.

On the other hand, the Enter key is a key you will frequently use, especially when starting a new line or composing an essay. For example, most people who search Google or YouTube press the Enter key when they finish typing in the search bar.

The Left Shift is Distant

The left shift key is divided into two, causing it to be approximately 1" farther away from its usual location. Depending on the language, the extra key may be greater/less than symbols or Backslash, but it's not a frequently used key. Many people, when typing, will go for the left shift key, inadvertently hitting the extra key. If you're new to the ISO layout, you will accidentally press that spare key more likely than not.

Many individuals from countries that use the ISO layout choose an ANSI keyboard because they frequently strike the backslash key by mistake while attempting to input something else.

Which one to choose: ANSIĀ vs ISO?

The difference comes down to personal preference. There are several drawbacks to adopting an ISO layout keyboard. Some languages, such as French and German, cannot be typed without an ISO keyboard because they require an extra key. The additional key needed for a specific language on an ISO keyboard compromises ergonomics.

Getting an ANSI keyboard and then reprogramming it to match all of the keys required for your language would be the most fantastic solution with a fully programmable keyboard. You'll have access to many more options for PCBs, keycap sets, and more when you use an ANSI layout.Ā 

Several crowdfunding projects offer ISO layout, but they do not reach the funding level needed to produce and distribute them. And if you do a Google search for "ISO keycaps," you'll notice there are few results.

Even if the minimum group buy requirement is satisfied, ISO keycap sets are frequently more expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the (JIS) layout?

The JIS layout is a Japanese Industrial Standard design. The Enter key on this style resembles a flipped L-shape, and the right Shift splits into two keys, with the backspace key also divided in two. This layout adds three more keys in the spacebar area. JIS has five more keys than the ANSI layout, for full-size 109 keys. These Extra keys are necessary for Japanese character input.

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Is it possible to use an ANSI keyboard when my language uses an ISO layout?

It is possible to use an ANSI keyboard with languages that favor an ISO layout since mechanical keyboards allow the customization of extra characters and keys. The symbols and frequently utilized keys on the ANSI keyboard are more easily accessible than other layouts. To access alternative layouts on ANSI, press Alt + Shift, followed by the key with the symbol you require.

Where can I get ISO keycap sets?

At CandyKeys, you'll find a wide selection of ISO keycaps. They come in a variety of colors. It's not as extensive as the many ANSI keycaps available, but it's an excellent place to start.

Drop offers ISO keycaps for group purchases. None are available, but they were previously available for group buys.

Currently, KBD Fans offers eight different ISO keycap sets. They have dye-sublimated Cherry profile keys and blank keys for 65 percent and 60 percent keyboards. You can purchase ISO keycap sets from them to replace specific keys, and as an add-on, you may buy an ANSI keycap kit to customize your keyboard to your liking.

Where can I get ANSI keycap sets?

ANSI keycaps are widely available. It's not necessary to type ANSI when looking for these keycaps; simply searching for keycaps will yield the following results as the default. Amazon, keycapsets.com, and KBD Fans are all good resources for keycaps.

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Summary

We established the distinctions between the ISOĀ vs ANSI layouts and outlined the numerous drawbacks of the ISO design. The ISO layout is unnecessary unless you're typing in a language that requires more keys. It's not as ergonomic as ANSI, and it makes no sense unless you're typing in a foreign language. We also went through where to get ISO and ANSI keycaps online.

Hopefully, this information was helpful and as complete as possible. Many individuals are unaware that the ISO layout even exists. However, at first, you may believe it is better because you can fit an extra key, but now you may be thinking your ANSI keyboard is perfect as it is.

As usual, have a wonderful day!

What keyboard layouts types do you prefer, and what are your thoughts on it? Leave a comment below with your answers.

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