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The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Layouts

Find your ideal keyboard layout for comfortable and efficient typing.

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Defining characteristics of the HHKB keyboard layout


The standard QWERTY layout requires users to stretch their pinky to the lower-left corner to execute common commands such as Cut, Paste, and Undo using the Control key. HHKB’s logical layout moves this important key so it’s adjacent to the home row. Control replaces the seldom-used Caps Lock key, which is still easily accessible via Function layers.


The HHKB layout also drops the Backspace/Delete key down one row to the spot formerly used by Backslash (which in turn moves to the upper right corner of the keyboard). This makes one of the most important functions of the keyboard — the ability to erase and replace typos — much more comfortable to access.

Simplified bottom row

The HHKB keyboard layout reduces uncomfortable finger stretching with a minimized bottom row as part of its improved physical design. Since the Control key already has a prominent spot higher up, the bottom row now only needs the two Alt keys, the Spacebar, and the customizable henkan and muhenkan (AKA left and right diamond) keys.

Read moreabout the HHKB layout in our full article, What Makes the HHKB Keyboard Layout Unique? 

Did You Know? The HHKB Snow Collection lets you enjoy the classic design of HHKB in its most refined color palette yet. Click here to learn more.

Potential pros and cons of the Dvorak keyboard layout

Pro – Improved Comfort

By reducing the need to move your fingers away from the home row, Dvorak increases the amount of time your fingers and wrists remain in their natural positions. This can promote greater typing comfort than QWERTY.


Pro – Increased speed

Many seasoned Dvorak typists report a small but noticeable increase in their typing speed as compared to their peak QWERTY speed. While it may not make a massive difference all at once, this efficiency can add up to better productivity over time.


Con – Long transition time

Since touch typing requires building up muscle memory, it may take a while before someone who is used to typing in QWERTY can get as fast and comfortable working in Dvorak. Expect to spend at least a few months in “training mode.”


Read more about Dvorak in our articleWhat Is the Dvorak Keyboard Layout? 

Important points to consider for the Colemak keyboard layout



Colemak has not remained static since it was first released in 2006. The Colemak Mod-DH variant has gained popularity by reducing uncomfortable index finger reaching, while the Soul keyboard layout applies the principles of symmetric typing to Colemak’s basic concept.


Colemak is included by default with current versions of Mac OS, but Windows PC users must either install a third-party keyboard configuration or build out a Colemak setup of their own with a keyboard remapping tool.


One of the best ways to learn Colemak is by simply printing off a diagram of the layout and keeping it on hand while you type. Otherwise, free online tools such as Colemak Club make it easy to build up proficiency over multiple training sessions.

Read more about Colemak in our article,  What Is the Colemak Keyboard Layout? 

Did You Know?  HHKB accessories, including handy travel bundles, make it easy to take your new favorite board with you everywhere. Click here to learn more. 

Workman features and considerations


A third-party assessor rated Workman as requiring substantially less effort to type on than both QWERTY and Dvorak, though more effort than Colemak. That said, its unique take on principles of typing comfort may work better with your own preferences.


Workman is not natively supported by Mac OS or Windows PCs, which means you will either have to download and install the official layout configuration or set up your own version manually.


Third-party tools like Colemak Club include options for learning Workman. Additionally, online typing tests such as Monkeytype let you assess your progress and challenge yourself to improve speed and accuracy over time.

Read more about Workman in What Is the Workman Layout for Keyboards?

Main differences between ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts


On ANSI keyboards, the Enter key is typically an extra-wide key with a standard height. On ISO keyboards, the Enter key resembles an upside-down “L”, with a wider top and narrow base.

Left Shift

Standard ANSI keyboards feature a Left Shift key that is roughly twice as wide as a standard key. However, ISO keyboards instead use a shorter Left Shift to make room for an extra key.


Right Alt

ANSI keyboards place functionally identical Alt keys on either side of the spacebar. In order to support more characters unique to each regional language, ISO keyboard layouts replace Right Alt with the Alt Graph (AltGr) key.

Read more about the ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts in our articles, What Is the ANSI Layout, What Is the ISO Keyboard Layout, and ANSI vs ISO: Which Keyboard Layout Is Best?

Did You Know? The full history of the HHKB brand started more than 30 years ago, with a computer science professor from the University of Tokyo. Click here to learn more.

Use a layout built to power user preferences

With all those keyboard layouts to consider, you may not be sure where to go next. But if you want an easy-to-learn and efficient layout combined with a space-saving design, the choice is clear. Find your next daily driver for many years of happy typing in the full range of high-end keyboards from HHKB.

Shop Happy Hacking Keyboard Now

Designed for those who type to live.

Shop Now