ANSI VS ISO Keyboard Layouts: A Comprehensive Guide

ANSI VS ISO Keyboard Layouts: A Comprehensive Guide

Keyboard layout affects the keyboard's usability, typing experience, and comfort. Based on the difference in the key position and size, the ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts are two of the most widely used worldwide.

Knowing the difference between ANSI and ISO keyboards can help you choose the right keyboard to enhance your typing experience. This article will explain the differences, pros, and cons between them, and hopefully, it will help you make an informed decision and choose the keyboard layout that best suits your needs.

ANSI VS ISO: What Are They?

ANSI and ISO are the two different standards. ANSI is the American National Standards, ISO is the International Organization for Standardization.

ANSI keyboard is the keyboard whose layout meets the American National Standards. ISO keyboard is the keyboard that the layout meet the International Organization for Standardization. 

To ensure consistency and compatibility across different computer systems and manufacturers, the ANSI keyboard layout was standardized in the late 1980s. ANSI keyboards layout standard create a uniform typing experience for American users.

The ISO keyboard layout was developed in the early 1990s to create a versatile and adaptable keyboard standard that could accommodate the various typing requirements and language differences in different countries.

 

ANSI VS ISO keyboard Layout: Whats the Difference?

ANSI keyboard - You can easily find the horizon Enter key on the ANSI keyboard. ANSI keyboard is used widely in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and many Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

ISO keyboard - If the Enter key is the upside-down L, the keyboard is ISO layout. European countries and South America usually use the ISO keyboard.

 ansi and iso keyboard

Below is a table where you can clearly see the difference between the two layouts. 

Difference 

ANSI

ISO

Enter key shape

Wide horizontal key

Turn-down L shape. Occupies two rows

The backspace key

Above the Enter key

Left of the Enter key

The left Shift key

Same size and dimension as the Right shift key

50% of the size of the right shift key. Have the same dimension as the Ctrl key

Correct Alt key

Same with the left Alt key

Replaced with an Alt Gr key

Number of Keys -Full-Size

104 keys 

105 keys 

Number of Keys - Tenkeyless

87 keys

88 keys

Number of Keys -60% layout

68 keys

69 keys

Custom keycap availability

Wide

Less common

Regional Use

US, Canada, etc.

Europe, other international regions

 

There are mainly 5 structural difference with the ANSI and ISO keyboard, let’s break it down.

Enter

ANSI: The Enter key is a wide horizontal key. 

ISO: The Enter key is L-shaped, occupying two rows.

About the Enter key, there are some people like the ANSI layout. They consider, the Enter key is closer to the finger and easier for the pinky to press in ANSI, while in the ISO layout the pinky has to reach over two keys. This may be related to the size of your palms and the length of your fingers. People with larger palms may not find this a problem.

On the other hand, for ISO layout, the Enter key is bigger, takes up more space, and can be pressed more accurately. From my personal experience, the bigger Enter key makes me feel more ritual when I press it.

 

Backslash

ANSI: The Backlash key is above the Enter key.

ISO: The Backlash key is to the left of the Enter key.

Some people think that the closer backslash key in ISO is unnecessary because they rarely use it. At the same time, those who often program and need to enter backslashes think that ISO keyboards are better.

 

Left Shift

ANSI: The left Shift key is longer.

ANSI: The left Shift key is shorter to make room for an extra key (often the "<" or "|" key) next to it.

ANSI layout keyboard have a bigger Left Shift Key, it can be more comfort and easy to press for the pinky.

  

Right Alt

ANSI: Has a right Alt key.

ISO: has a right Alt key and an Alt Graph (AltGr) key.

ISO layout keyboard’s AltGr key allows users to access more symbols and characters on the keyboard, such as á or ñ, without changing the visual layout or using additional software.

 

Number of Keys

About the number of keys, ISO is one more key than ANSI keyboard.

For full-size keyboard, ANSI have 104 keys, ISO have 105 keys, just like mentioned above, one extra key is placed just near the left shift key.

For Tenkeyless (TKL) Keyboard, ANSI have 87 keys, ISO have 88 keys

For 60% layout, ANSI have 68 keys, ISO have 69 keys.

 

Besides the structual difference between ANSI and ISO layout, there are differences in the commonality of keycaps and the regions of use.

 

Commonality of keycap sets

At present, there are relatively more ANSI keycap sets in the market, while ISO keycap sets are relatively rare.

Fortunately, our Akko Europe focus on the European market, providing users with a rich selection of ISO keycap sets. Whether you need to replace the keycaps or want to find a keyboard layout that is more suitable for your usage habits, we can meet your needs. Our products are diverse and beautifully designed to meet the preferences and usage habits of different users.

commonality of keycap sets- akko iso keycaps

Regions of use

North America including the United States and Canada, and some Asian countries are more accustomed to using ASIN layout.

The ISO layout’s adaptability to different languages makes it the preferred choice in culturally and linguistically diverse regions, such as Europe and multilingual countries.

 

Pros and Cons: ANSI VS ISO Layout

After knowing the main difference with the ANSI and ISO keyboard, let’s deep into the pros and cons with them.

ANSI Layout

Pros

  • Perfect for english typist
  • Compatibility with most software and games
  • Easy to get customizable keycaps set
  • Can be cheaper than ISO

Cons

  • Enter key isn’t as distinct since it’s a simple rectangular shape.  
  • Lack special characters and the Alt Gr key used to create diacritics.  
akko ansi layout keyboard

ISO Layout

Pros

  • Common use in Europe and other regions
  • Benefits for typing in various languages
  • Inclusion of the Alt Gr key, which is widely used in European countries to create accents. 
  • The closer backslash key. Helpful for programmers and developers as this key is frequently used. 

Cons

  • Not that ergonomic since other popular keys are further away meaning you’ll have to extend your hand whilst typing.  
  • Can be more expensive than ANSI keyboards. 
akko iso keyboard

ANSI vs ISO: Choosing the Right Layout for You

There is no clear conclusion about which one is better because everyone has their own preferences. Generally, you can consider some of the following factors to decide which one to choose:

1. Language and region

Generally speaking, the United States, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and many Asian and Middle Eastern countries prefer ASIN, while European countries are accustomed to ISO. In addition, ANSI is more suitable for English input, and each language has its own characters in ISO layout.

 2. Personal preference

Everyone has different hand shapes and typing habits, and your comfort with the position of the keys will greatly affect your choice. Some people have a strong preference for a certain layout based on how they learned to type.

 3. Specific needs

If you have specific needs, this will also affect your choice. For example, if you program frequently, you may prefer ANSI because it has a more familiar key layout in the common coding environment in the United States. 

ansi or iso keyboard

Which is More Common: ANSI or ISO?

The ANSI keyboard layout is very common in the United States and other English-speaking countries and is the standard layout for most keyboards in these regions. In Europe and other regions, the ISO keyboard layout is more popular, and keyboards in these regions usually include more special characters.

 

Frequesntly Asked Questions

What is JIS layout?
The JIS keyboard layout is designed for easy Japanese typing, with additional keys for language-specific functions, dual language markings, and a layout that supports both Kana and Romaji input modes. This layout is essential for Japanese users and those who type Japanese frequently, as it provides the tools and features needed to efficiently enter Japanese characters.

Which keyboard layout is better for gaming?
Gamers in North America often prefer the ANSI layout for its familiar key placement and design. However, the ISO layout can also be customized for gaming.

Which layout should I choose for programming?
Programmers in North America often prefer the ANSI layout for its efficient key placement, especially the location of the backslash key. However, ISO can also be used effectively with some adaptation.
How does the choice of keyboard layout affect typing speed and accuracy?
Typing speed and accuracy can be influenced by familiarity with the layout. Users may type faster and more accurately on a layout they are accustomed to, whether ANSI or ISO.

Can I switch between ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts easily?
Yes, but it requires some adjustment. Regular practice, ergonomic adjustments, and familiarization with the new layout can help ease the transition.

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