ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (2023)

Those who use keyboards daily, such as gamers, typists, and coders.

If you’ve been looking for a keyboard, you’ve probably come across ANSI and ISO terms. These are the two most common keyboard layouts, particularly in Western countries; they cause a lot of confusion when people are looking for a new keyboard!

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout, which one fits you the best? Today, let’s answer this question.

We will explain the differences, similarities, pros, and cons, and answer any questions you may have about the ISO and ANSI keyboard layout.

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: What Are They?


ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute and is a standardized keyboard layout certified by this organization. The central cluster of ANSI keys is organized as follows:

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (1)
Both ISO and ANSI keyboard layout is used in countries like the United States and the Netherlands. PC keyboards with the ANSI layout, such as the IBM Model M, are commonly referred to 3 main categories based on the number of keys that the keyboard holds:
  • 101-key (pre-1995)
  • 104-key (with the Windows and context menu keys added)
  • 87-key (standard tenkeyless layout)


ISO is abbreviated for International Organization for Standardization – it does not define specific layouts, but it serves as the foundation for national and industry standards.

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (2)
The keys that differ from ANSI are depicted in pink and purple. Aside from having one extra key, the ISO layout has another essential feature: the right Alt key is replaced with the Alt Gr key, a typographic meta key that accesses the third symbol on a keyboard.
The use of accents in European languages necessitates the entry of many more characters than in the United States, resulting in increased symbol overloading on keys. In the United Kingdom, for example, the “4” key will produce “$” if the Shift key is held down and “€” if the Alt Gr key is held down.

(Read more about Keyboard sizes and layouts here)

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Key Differences

Here is a quick comparison chart that highlights the distinctive elements that separate ANSI vs ISO key mapping standards:

Enter key shapeRectangle. Pinky-friendlyTurn-down L shape. Not pinky-friendly
The backspace keyLocated above the Enter key. A longer keystroke is requiredLocated on the left of the Enter key. Shorter keystroke
The left Shift keySame size and dimension as the Right shift key50% of the size of the right shift key. Have the same dimension as the Ctrl key
Correct Alt keyUniform with the left alternativeReplaced with an Alt Gr key
Number of Keys for Full-Size104 keys105 keys
Number of Keys for Tenkeyless87 keys88 keys
Number of Keys for 60% layout68 keys69 keys
Custom keycap availabilityWideLess common

Let’s go into detail and explain this table in ISO and ANSI layout.

Enter key

The most noticeable difference in the ANSI vs ISO keyboard debate is that the ANSI layout has a more minor Enter or Return key, whereas the ISO layout has a larger one.

The Enter key on an ANSI keyboard is a long, horizontal rectangle key. The Enter key on an ISO keyboard is more of a backward, upside-down L shape.

Backslash key

The backspace key is located above the “Enter key” in an ANSI vs ISO keyboard layout, with one key between them. To reach it, you will usually need to stretch your right little finger.

In an ISO layout, on the other hand, the “backspace key” is closer to the “Enter key,” and you don’t have to stretch your finger as far to reach it.

Left Shift key

Another distinction between ANSI vs ISO keyboard layouts is the size of the Left Shift Key. The Left and Right Shift keys are both the same size in the ANSI layout.

However, in the ISO layout, the Left Shift key is 50% smaller than the Right Shift key. The size is now similar to the Ctrl key on the keyboard. When you switch from ANSI to ISO, you will inadvertently press the tilde key, which is located next to the shift key.

Right Alt key

In the ANSI keyboard layout, there are Alt keys on both the left and right sides of the same-sized Spacebar. However, in the case of ISO layout keyboards, the right Alt key is replaced by a different key known as the Alt Gr Key (Alt Graph Key).

Number of Keys

The number of keys available on ANSI and ISO layout keyboards varies. When compared to the total number of keys in ANSI layout keyboards, ISO layout keyboards have an extra key.

Which is better: ANSI or ISO layout?

Advantages of the ISO Layout

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (3)
The ISO keyboard layout is ideal for international users who do not speak English. Let us now look at the benefits of ISO keyboard layout. The ISO layout has more symbol support than the ANSI layout.
For example, you can type the Dollar symbol “$” using the (Shift + 4) keys and the Pound symbol “€” using the (4+ Alt Gr) keys. (Alt Gr denotes the right Alt button)

The backslash key is located near the Enter key in the ISO layout. If you frequently use the backslash key while typing, this ISO layout will come in handy.

Disadvantages of the ISO Layout

The ISO keyboard layout has both pros and cons. The following are the drawbacks of using the ISO keyboard layout.

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (4)

Key placement

The plus one key that ISO holds might be a devil in disguise. When comparing ANSI vs ISO keyboard layout, it’s important to remember this distinctive element.

Left Shift Key

This key is one of the defining characteristics of ANSI vs ISO layout.

Because of the extra key, the left shift key is split into two keys, causing the shift key to move about one inch from its ideal position.

As a result, people who are used to typing with the left shift key closer to them may mistakenly press the extra key for the left shift key, slowing their typing speed when using the ISO keyboard layout.

Enter Key

When using the ISO keyboard layout, your pinky finger must cross two other keys before reaching the enter key.

Typing becomes more difficult due to stretching over to catch one of the primary keys you use when typing. Every time you try to start a new paragraph while typing, you have to jump over two keys.


Because ISO layout keyboards are less standard than ANSI layout keyboards, they can be challenging to find. As a result, ISO keyboards are generally more expensive and have fewer options. It can also be challenging to locate ISO keycap sets.

Advantages of the ANSI Keyboard Layout

Speaking of usage of ISO and ANSI layout, the most common and widely used keyboard is ANSI. Let’s find out why:

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (5)

Enter Key Positioning

The enter key is closer to your right pinky finger on the ANSI keyboard layout, making it easier to reach.

The ANSI keyboard layout eliminates the need to stretch over two keys to reach the get key, making typing easier and faster.

Positioning of the Left Shift Key

The left shift key is closer to your left pinky finger on the ANSI keyboard layout, making it easier to reach.

In contrast to the ISO keyboard layout, where you must make a conscious effort to jump over the extra key, you can reach the contact shift key with minimal effort.


Keyboards with the ANSI layout are more common than ISO keyboard layout keypads, making them more easily accessible to users.

Disadvantages of the ANSI Keyboard Layout

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (6)

Backslash Key Positioning

If you frequently use the backslash key, using the ANSI keyboard layout may be difficult.

This is because the backslash key is located above the enter key, requiring you to stretch further to reach it, as opposed to the ISO keyboard layout.

Functionality Restrictions

Unlike the ISO keyboard layout, which has an extra key, the ANSI keyboard layout does not have a spare key that allows you to fit another key, which could be another language or an additional symbol.

You can, however, buy an ANSI keyboard layout and reprogram it to accommodate the keys required to type in your language.

Can I Use an ANSI Keyboard Even If My Language Uses an ISO layout?

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (7)

If you want to replace the ISO/DE keycaps on your ANSI keyboard, you can’t use ISO Enter + Left Shift (wrong size), but the rest of the ISO keycaps will fit.

Hence, it is possible to use the ANSI keyboard layout with other languages that require different types of symbols.

On Windows 10, you can change layouts by pressing Alt+shift, which will take you to the key with the desired symbol.

On Mac OS X, shortcuts are available, but you must enable them. You can also change the language for your keyboard input and switch in the top navigation bar.

What Layout Is My Keyboard?

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (8)

The enter key is the simplest way to tell which layout your keyboard is.

  • You have an ANSI keyboard if the enter key is a wide rectangle that takes up only one row.
  • If the enter key is shaped like an upside-down L and takes up two rows, you have an ISO keyboard.
  • If you have Japanese characters next to the space bar on your keyboard, you most likely have the JIS layout.

Where can I find ANSI and ISO Keycap Sets?

ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layout: Breakdown and Comparative Analysis - Hirosart - Keycaps studio (9)

ANSI keycaps can be found almost anywhere. When looking for these keycaps, there is no need to type ANSI; simply searching for keycaps will yield these results as the default. Kono, Candykeys, KBD Fans, and are all good places to look for keycaps.

Fancy a more custom taste? Hirosart provides an extensive artisan keycap collection that allows your keyboard shines with money pieces custom to your liking!

Final Thoughts

The decision between the ISO vs ANSI keyboard layout is based on your personal preferences as a user. However, in order to determine which is best for you, you must first understand their features, differences, advantages, and disadvantages.

The differences between ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts are the location and size of the enter, shift, alt, and backslash keys, as well as the total number of keys.

Although ANSI is the most common layout, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to using an ANSI vs ISO keyboard – it is entirely up to your personal preference!

TagsKeyboard Layout


Which layout is better ISO or ANSI? ›

The ANSI keyboard has better positioning of its symbols and frequently used keys. To go into other layouts, it's possible to use Alt + Shift and then press the key with the symbol you need.

What is the difference between ANSI and ISO keyboard? ›

On an ANSI keyboard, the Enter key is a long, horizontal rectangle key. On an ISO keyboard, the Enter key is more of a backward, upside-down L shape. Essentially, the width of the Enter key is reduced in size but takes over the location backslash key above.

How many keys are there in ANSI layout? ›

A typical 60% ANSI-derived (American National Standards Institute) layout keyboard has 61 keys on 5 rows. The top row and the second row both have 14 keys, the third row has 13 keys, the fourth row has 12 keys, and the bottom row has 8 keys.

Is a UK keyboard ANSI or ISO? ›

The ISO-standard physical layout (center left) is common, e.g., in the United Kingdom. Compared with the ANSI layout (top left), the enter key is vertical rather than horizontal. In addition, the left shift key is smaller, to make room for an additional key to its right.

What is the difference between ANSI and ISO standards? ›

ANSI dimensions are read horizontally. ISO dimensions are parallel to the dimension line. ANSI dimensions are centered on the dimension line. ISO dimension are placed above the dimension line.

Which keyboard layout is best for programming? ›

The Programmer Dvorak keyboard layout is the most comfortable and efficient layout for programmers. While the traditional Dvorak layout inherits awkward symbol locations from QWERTY, Programmer Dvorak makes the symbol row more intuitive.

Can you use ISO keycaps on ANSI keyboard? ›

If you're want a new ISO/DE set on your ANSI keyboard you can't use ISO Enter + Left Shift (wrong size) on a ANSI keyboard, the rest of the ISO keycaps will fit.

Is it hard to switch from ISO to ANSI? ›

Going from ISO to ANSI is easier than the other way around. For example, the left shift is longer in ANSI. But if you come from ISO and still press it in the exact same spot you still hit shift. The other way around (adapting to a shorter shift) is much harder.

What countries use ISO layout? ›

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization's standard layout that most European countries and South America use as their keyboard standard. European countries such as UK, Spain, Netherlands, France, Sweden and more. The ISO standard will be the 105-Key, 88-Key and 62-Key layouts we have available.

What is the best keyboard form factor? ›

The 60 percent mechanical keyboard form factor typically has around 60 keys and is the ultimate in portable mechanical keyboard form factors. A great choice for taking in and out of the office or placing over your laptop keyboard. The downside of this form factor is significant and would take some time to adjust to.

Are most keyboards ANSI? ›

The ANSI keyboard is the most common layout overall, especially in the US. ANSI standard keyboard has 101 keys (pre-1995) and full-size 104 keys including alphanumeric keys, punctuation keys, and function keys.

What is the most popular keyboard size? ›

What is this? The most common keyboard sizes are Full-Sized (104 key), TKL (87 key), and 60% (68 key). Each size is unique with different features. There are other layouts too, some of the less common keyboard sizes are the 75%, 65%, and 40%.

What are the 3 types of keyboard layout? ›

Changing the Layout of the Keys

For languages using the Latin alphabet, there are three main key layouts: QWERTY, QWERTZ, and AZERTY.

What are the 3 types of keyboards? ›

Types of Keyboards for Computers: How to Choose the Right One
  • QWERTY Keyboards.
  • Wired Keyboards.
  • Numeric Keypads.
  • Ergonomic Keyboards.
  • Wireless Keyboards.
  • USB Keyboards.
  • Bluetooth Keyboards.
  • Magic Keyboards.
14 Jul 2022

Can you use an ANSI keyboard in the UK? ›

Some people in the UK/Europe are put off from using US keyboards because there is no straightforward way of using them without compromise. Switching the OS to the US layout means you lose any national symbols (£ etc.)

Is ANSI obsolete? ›

As of 2020, the revision status of the standard is ANSI/TIA-568-D, published 2015, which replaced TIA/EIA-568-C of 2009, revision B of 2001, and revision A of 1995, and the initial issue of 1991, which are now obsolete.

Are ANSI C and C same? ›

ANSI C merely refers to a particular standard for the C Programming Language - i.e. there is no difference, they refer to the same thing.

What is the relationship between ANSI and ISO? ›

ANSI is the sole U.S. representative and dues-paying full member of ISO, and, as a founding member, plays an active role in ISO's governance and technical work. Through ANSI, the U.S. has immediate access to the ISO standards development processes.

What are the two types of keyboard layouts? ›

Colemak Keyboard Layouts. In this article we will be comparing three different keyboard layouts, QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak, to help you make an educated decision on which layout might be best for you. QWERTY was the first typing layout invented in the 1870s to complement the typewriter.

Is it worth it to learn a different keyboard layout? ›

It's not worth learning an alternative keyboard. While if you know QWERTY you can go your entire life never having to use another keyboard layout, if you learn Dvorak or Colemak you will still have to frequently use QWERTY. It isn't obvious that the time saved with an alternative keyboard (which might be zero!)

Does a keyboard layout matter? ›

Keyboard layouts are designed to make it easier and more efficient for the computer user to input their text and prompts. This efficiency is based on the language that they are typing. But with so many different languages worldwide, computer keyboards had to adapt too.

How do I know if my keycaps are compatible? ›

You can check if a keycap set will fit your mechanical keyboard by checking the layout of your keyboard, knowing the size of special keys such as space, shift, backspace, enter, and the bottom row keys such as Ctrl, Alt, Win, and Fn. Some keyboards need extra keys or smaller keys than a standard layout.

Does US use ANSI or ISO? ›

Generally speaking, the ANSI layout is used predominantly in the United States and the ISO layout is used in some other countries. The below diagrams show the two layouts with the different keys.

Is ANSI under ISO? ›

ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO and, via its U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ANSI is also a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).

Is ANSI used internationally? ›

This means that ANSI coordinates U.S. standards with World standards so that the U.S. products can be used worldwide.

Is ANSI an industry standard? ›

ANSI (American National Standards Institute) is the main organization supporting the development of technology standards in the United States. ANSI works with industry groups, and it is the U.S. member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Why are ANSI standards important? ›

ANSI standards have crucial value to the safety programs used in a variety of industries nationwide. Although consumers are not always familiar with ANSI standards, they protect the environment and people's health and safety.

Is ISO accepted worldwide? ›

ISO standards are internationally agreed by experts. Think of them as a formula that describes the best way of doing something.

What are the two most widely used ISO standards? ›

Let's take a look. ISO 9001. This is one of the most popular ISO standards for creating, implementing, and maintaining a Quality Management System (QMS) for any given company, regardless of its industry, capital, or size. ISO 14001.

What are the 3 ISO standards? ›

Fortunately for you, we have researched the top 3 most popular generic standards; ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2014, ISO 27001:2013. In the following, we will examine in detail the reason for introducing these three certificates as the most important ISOs for the construction industry and companies.

Should I get a 60% keyboard or 65%? ›

A 65% keyboard has a compact layout that is smaller than a full-size or tenkeyless keyboard, but slightly larger than a 60% keyboard as one might expect. The 65% keyboard has become more popular than the 60% keyboard because it is both compact, and more functional.

Is a 75 percent keyboard good? ›

A 75% keyboard is a great option for those who want a more compact mechanical keyboard than a full-sized keyboard (to save space!) –without sacrificing key functions like the arrow keys and function keys. If you can live without a dedicated number pad, a 75% mechanical keyboard might be perfect for you!

What is an ANSI Keycap? ›

An ANSI keycaps layout follows the standards set by the American National Standards Institute and is typically defined by a wide rectangular Enter key sitting beneath the Backslash key.

What is ANSI standard keyboard? ›

ANSI standard keyboard is a computer keyboard that uses the ANSI standard layout. The ANSI layout is based on the QWERTY layout and is widely used in the United States. ANSI standard keyboard has 101 keys, including alphanumeric keys, punctuation keys, and function keys.

Which standard is used for keyboard? ›

The correct answer is option 2, i.e. ASCII. The "ASCII", short for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange", is a "character encoding standard" format for electronic communication.

Why do pros use 60 keyboards? ›

The big benefit of 60% keyboards is its diminutive width, leaving more room for the mouse and generally creating a better ergonomic posture for gaming. Because of its narrower width, gamers are more easily able to position their keyboard in the most comfortable position for them.

Why do people use 40% keyboard? ›

People who prefer 40% keyboards have optimized their use of space and movement, a 40% keyboard can type and game very efficiently once you get used to its nuances. 40% keyboards are usually cheaper than full size keyboards, mostly because they just use less material overall.

Should you get a 61 or 88 key keyboard? ›

For a beginner, 66 keys are sufficient for learning to play, and you can play most music on a 72-key instrument. For anyone interested in playing classical piano, however, a full 88 keys are recommended, especially if you plan on one day playing a traditional piano. Many keyboards have fewer than 66 keys.

Why do we use ANSI? ›

To enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.

Why do people like ISO keyboards? ›

ISO keyboard physical layout comes equipped with up to 105 keys for full-size keyboards and retains 87% of components as opposed to the TKL, which retains less. It is based on the QWERTY layout but has some additional keys designed to make it easier to type in international languages.

Is ANSI C still used? ›

The first standard for C was published by ANSI. Although this document was subsequently adopted by ISO/IEC and subsequent revisions published by ISO/IEC have been adopted by ANSI, "ANSI C" is still used to refer to the standard.

Does Europe use ANSI? ›

ANSI maintains active relationships with its counterparts in Europe, including the European Standards Organizations (ESOs). In addition, ANSI and the ESO's cooperate with the U.S. government, European Commission, and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to lead the U.S.-EU standards and conformance interaction.

Do Americans use ISO? ›

Many United States organizations, both commercial and government operate with ISO accreditation or certification.

Which countries use ANSI standards? ›

Key markets exist in Europe, China, and India. The only representative for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) happens to be ANSI. ISO also goes through the U.S National Committee (UNSC) to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Is ANSI same as ASCII? ›

ASCII is the predominant form of character encoding, despite the fact that ANSI is a flexible form of encoding method. ANSI contains all of the symbols that are necessary for the drawing, while ASCII only includes the numerical representation. Within the context of the system, these are not the same.

What is the difference between ANSI and non ANSI? ›

ANSI-compliant databases and non-ANSI-compliant databases differ as to which users are granted table-level privileges by default when a table in a database is created.

Which is better ANSI or Unicode? ›

ANSI vs Unicode

Usage is also the main difference between the two as ANSI is very old and is used by operating systems like Windows 95/98 and older, while Unicode is a newer encoding that is used by all of the current operating systems today.

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