What does it mean "keyboard layout ”and how do we choose the keyboard according to the language?

What are the most used types of keyboards and what are the differences between them? What does it mean "keyboard layout ”and which keyboard should we choose for laptop or PC?

The keyboard is the common element on all laptops, computers and smartphones. Regardless of whether we are talking about physical or tactile keyboards, most often "layout" refers to the appearance / physical arrangement of the keys according to language, diacritics and symbols.

What does it mean keyboard layout?

When we look in online or physical stores for a laptop or a keyboard, we see that in the specifications we are told about the "layout". Most of the time this specification refers to the physical arrangement of the keys, to the diacritics and symbols inscribed on the keys, special characters and accents specific to the language for which it was designed.
If you are from Romania, you will most likely find keyboards and laptops in stores keyboards QWERTY in the format International US or Romanian language. These having on them diacritics “Δ, “Ș”, “Ă”, “”, “Ț” positioned according to the standards adopted for the language.

in France and Belgium we will find keyboards AZERTY which is characterized by another positioning of the physical keys, ale key combinations for special characters, symbols, the names and accents specific to the French alphabet.

Therefore, depending on their appearance, the keyboards can be divided into two large groups:

  1. Keyboard layout - with reference to the general standards: QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ
  2. Language Keyboard layout - QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ with layout specific to each language.

Keyboard Layout according to key arrangement standards QWERTY, AZERTY or QWERTZ

Depending on the geographical position and the countries, the keyboards have several characteristics. Globally, the model based on the US and United Kingdom international standard is adopted. This is the system QWERTY present on both physical keyboards Windows si Mac, as well as on the virtuous keyboards of smart phones.


It is the most widespread keyboard layout, but which supports small changes from one country to another, to make room for diacritics and special characters of the language.
The system QWERTY it is designed for the Latin alphabet and we find it in countries and regions such as: USA, Great Britain, Latin America, Europe and in a good part of Asia, where the Latin alphabet is an alternative to the local one.

Keyboard US Layout / Windows

Although we are talking about a keyboard QWERTY, the arrangement of the keys will look a little different for a user from Romania who needs diacritics specific to the Romanian language alphabet. The US International layout in the image above will make room for diacritics "Î","Ș","Ă","Â","Ț", And some special characters they will be moved to other areas of the keyboard or will be done by combinations of two keys.

Romanian Standard Keyboard layout

We will also find keyboards with layouts QWERTY specific for other languages.


Agreement QWERTZ of the keys we find it widespread in the countries of Central Europe, with specific changes for the language of each countryand, as in the case QWERTY. We find keyboards QWERTZ with accents, diacritics and special characters in German, REP, Slovak or polish.

As the name suggests, the notable difference between the layout QWERTY si QWERTZ is the inversion of the physical keys "Y" and "Z". However, the positions are also modified punctuation marks, special characters and the symbols.

polish QWERTZ Keyborad Layout


Also derived from the American system QWERTY, the key layout format AZERTY appeared in France in the last decade of the nineteenth century. It is characterized by reversing the keys "A" with "Q" and "Z" with "W". The letter "M" is moved from the bottom line, next to the "L" key.

layout AZERTY for the French language

Another feature of AZERTY it is key dependent SHIFT to type numbers from 0 to 9. The position of special characters, punctuation, and symbols is also changed.

KEYPADS AZERTY are used in France si Belgia. Other French-speaking countries have remained followers of the format QWERTY adapted for French.

Keyboard layout according to language

As I said above, each general layout: QWERTY, AZERTY, QWERTZ, in turn, accepts an aspect specific to each language, in order to make room for diacritics and language accents. The US and UK International Layout are the only ones accepted internationally and do not contain diacritics.

A user from Romania can write digitally very well on a keyboard QWERTY International US. First of all, because the Romanian language is readable in digital written format and with the version without diacritics. Even if we have to use diacritics written according to the rules of the Romanian language, they were adopted on the Romanian keyboards only at the end of the '90s. In addition, the words in Romanian can be read very well even if they do not have diacritics. Even if some may take on a completely different meaning if they do not have diacritics, put in context, the reader cannot be misled. Also in most digital texts written in Romanian we will find the quotation marks above and at closing and at the opening, although the quotation marks below at the opening and the quotation marks at the closing would be correct. The American model is also preferred because of the position next to the key SHIFT of the "quotes above" on the international layout.

If we really want or are forced to use quotation marks in digital writing, then the best idea is to have a keyboard QWERTY dedicated to the Romanian language, containing physical keys inscribed with diacritics: “Î","Ș","Ă","Â","Ț“. Let's be a little careful because the position of some symbols will change.

Standard Romanian Keyboard layout

We also need to pay attention to one aspect. The arrangement of the physical keys for the Romanian language may differ from Windows la Mac, even if we are still talking about QWERTY. If on a physical keyboard for Windows key "Ș”We find it on the line with the“ L ”key, at MacBook and on a keyboard Apple for iMac, key "Ș"Will be under"ESCAnd the "Î" key next to it SHIFT and “Ț” near RETURN (Enter).

MacBook Pro - Romanian Keyboard layout

It is therefore observed that not only the large categories of layouts make the difference between the positioning of the letters on the keys, but also the language layouts can bring major differences to a keyboard.

How do we choose the keyboard with the right layout for computer or laptop?

Most laptop manufacturers put keyboards on them dedicated to the country in which they are sold. We will be able to find the same laptop model, with the same hardware features but with a different keyboard layout.
Manufacturers such as Apple, offers buyers the opportunity to choose the type of keyboard layout. For example, if we buy a MacBook from iStyle, we can choose between INT KB (international layout QWERTY without diacritics) and RO KB (layout of keyboard with diacritics).

If you need it for work or school, the diacritical format or the one optimized for the language in which you write frequently is the best choice. You can always deactivate or activate the diacritics in the operating system by installing the language layout you want for the keyboard, regardless of what is physically written on the keys (buttons).

Someone accustomed to digital writing, what is written on the keys does not really matter. It `s enough macaxes on the “F” and “J” keys to give us a taste of where we start typing. Most of us don't look at the keyboard when we have something to write.

If we talk about programmers, they will always appreciate INT KB or the format dedicated to programming languages, where special characters are at hand.

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