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Top 3 Keyboard Layouts You Need to Know

Date: Oct 06, 2022

Top 3 Keyboard Layouts You Need to Know

Because of the pandemic, many companies have resorted to work-from-home setups. Interest groups about workspace setups became popular, showcasing cool gadgets and ergonomic layouts. One of the computer gadgets that also gained popularity is the keyboard. Interestingly, more than one keyboard layout is becoming popular apart from the QWERTY layout. 

If you are one of those exploring other layouts, stick with us as we introduce the top 3 keyboard layouts and their features to find out which will suit your needs better.

Top 3 Keyboard Layouts You Need to Know





Designed for mechanical typewriters, QWERTY is the most popular layout there is. Even our laptops and cell phones have a QWERTY layout by default. As evident, it gets its name from the left-hand, top-row arrangement of the keys.

A keyboard with QWERTY layout

A keyboard with QWERTY layout

Who invented QWERTY Keyboard?

You can trace the origin of the QWERTY layout to the invention of the mechanical typewriter. Jimmy Stamp, a writer for Smithsonian Magazine, shared that a politician and a newspaperman named Christopher Latham Sholes invented the mechanical typewriter in the 1860s. Sholes invented the typewriter with Samuel W. Soulé, James Densmore, and Carlos Glidden to improve his business. 

The first design had 28 keys with an alphabetical arrangement. However, this was revised because successive keys hitting caused the internal type bars to jam, slowing the typist. Sholes found a solution by separating the commonly paired keys. 

After further polishing the design, 43 keys were patented in 1878. Sholes and Glidden explored manufacturing the mechanical typewriter with Remington, a gun-maker, which became successful, with 100,00 QWERTY typewriters produced in the US. 

A vintage typewriter

A vintage typewriter

The five biggest typewriter manufacturers merged in 1893 and agreed to use the QWERTY layout as the default typewriter layout. 

If you want to read more on the history of the QWERTY keyboard, check out Jimmy Stamp's article

Is the QWERTY Keyboard the best?

The answer to that is that it's still a matter of preference. But here are some reasons why it is advantageous to use it: 

◾ Because it's the default layout for most gadgets, the learning curve in improving typing speed and accuracy isn't that steep. Especially most of the typing test websites (link to the article) and tutorials are based on the QWERTY keyboard. 

◾ Muscle memory also plays a role in determining if the QWERTY layout is for you. Since you are more exposed to this layout, your muscle memory will make it easier to type in a QWERTY layout. 

◾ Many keyboard products are available in the market, and you can customize your keyboards depending on your liking. There are also several mechanical keyboards with various numbers of keys, depending on how you use them. For example, for gaming, some prefer the 60 % keyboard as they are compact and contain only the keys they need. Ten Key Less (TKL) keyboards are popular among those working with documents but do not require typing many numbers. People choose this keyboard because of the minimalistic workspace aesthetic or because their desks are not big enough. 

If you are looking for a new keyboard, check out our list of the best keyboards in 2022.

However, there are some drawbacks to the QWERTY layout. One is that it requires you to stretch your fingers to reach some of the keys, which can cause repetitive strain injury (RSI). 


Dvorak is a popular alternative to the QWERTY keyboard. It is named after its inventor Dr. August Dvorak. Dr. Dvorak intended to address the issues experienced by QWERTY users, which, as mentioned, is having to reach some keys causing strain to the fingers/ hand. 

The features of a Dvorak layout are: 

◾ You will find the vowels and punctuation marks on the left, while the consonants are on the right. 

◾ With that layout, it was intended for typists to use their hands in alternately. 

◾ The commonly used letters and pairs of words are positioned in the home row for efficiency, while the least used ones are at the bottom. 

◾ The direction of fingers/hands when typing tends to be from the edges of the keyboard to the middle. 

Screen capture of the Dvorak Keyboard layout.
 Photo source:

Screen capture of the Dvorak Keyboard layout. Photo source:

History of Dvorak Keyboard

Dr. Dvorak invented this layout in the 1930s. Dr. Dvorak is an educational psychologist and a professor at the University of Washinton. Together with his brother-in-law studied the psychology and physiology of typing. It is designed to be more efficient and ergonomic than the standard QWERTY layout.

Dr. Dvorak claimed that his layout enables typists to type better and faster than when using the QWERTY layout. He was part of the Navy back then, and his study became controversial because the Navy was biased with the experiment. The US government led a study in the 1950s to determine if Dr. Dvorak's claims were valid. The study showed that the typists using the Dvorak layout could match the speed of QWERTY users but could not exceed it. If you want to learn more about this controversy, you can read the article here.

While the Dvorak layout reduces fatigue and makes it easier to type for extended periods, Dvorak keyboard users share that in terms of faster typing, there is no such evidence that you can type faster with it than using QWERTY. However, Jon Porter, who has been using the said layout for over a decade now, shared that Dvorakforced him to learn touch typing, which made him more efficient in typing since he thought the arrangement would not work for him if he had not painstakingly learned to touch type. 


Colemak is a modern alternative to QWERTY developed by Shain Cole, and it stresses that it is the most ergonomic layout among these three based on the study conducted by Carpalx. The study showed that Colemak recorded the least increase in finger-based penalty over QWERTY. 

Their website states, " there are 35x more words you can type using only the home row on Colemak". Compared to the DVORAK layout, users share that they did not have much difficulty in transitioning from QWERTY to Colemak since the layout is similar and several command shortcuts are the same. 

The distinct feature of Colemak is having no capslock because, during the typewriter era, there were no other ways to emphasize a text other than a capslock. But today, with various font styles, you can easily highlight words. The punctuations are slightly different but still very similar to that of QWERTY. For example, the semi-colon and colon (';'/':') were taken out of the home position to give way to the letter 'O'. Check out their website for more details on the design. 

Screen capture of a Colemak keyboard layout
Photo source:

Screen capture of a Colemak keyboard layout Photo source:

There is much positive feedback on this layout. It is popular among programmers and those who need to type fast, like field journalists and students who take notes during lectures using their laptops. It is also recommended to those who have wrist problems since it is the most ergonomic layout. 


There are many keyboard layout alternatives apart from what we are used to, which is the QWERTY. While you might be already satisfied with your QWERTY, it is still worth trying other layouts, especially the Colemak. DVORAK has a steep learning curve, and transitioning to it will be a struggle for most. So if you are busy and do not have time to study and practice typing, DVORAK might not be a good option. Instead, try Colemak. 

What alternative keyboard layouts have you tried? Let us know in the comment section.