ANSI vs ISO: Which Keyboard Layout Is the Best for Your System

The ANSI vs ISO comparison is used for keyboard layouts and is commonly reviewed by buyers when purchasing a keyboard layout that best suits their system.


Both are standard in western countries but confuse people as to which keyboard layout they should buy for themselves. This article covers all the aspects of both layouts, so let’s discuss these layouts for a smart decision.

Comparison Table

Comparison Features ANSI Keyboard Layout ISO Keyboard Layout
Number of Tenkeyless keys 87 keys 88 keys
Shift key (Left) Big in size and close to other keys Small in size and far from other keys
Shift key (Right) Same left and right ALT keys The right ALT key is absent
Entry key Wide rectangular shape L-shape upside-down
Backslash key Directly above the enter key and has the same size and form as the right Ctrl key It’s located directly to the left of the enter key
Number of keys 101-key (pre-1995); full-size 104-key (including Windows and context menu keys). Full-size 105-key

What Are the Differences Between ANSI vs ISO Keyboard Layouts?

The main difference between ANSI vs ISO keyboard layouts is that in the ANSI layout, the enter key is wide and rectangular, whereas, in the ISO layout, the enter key is larger and taller. It has an upside-down L shape. An ANSI keyboard has 104 keys in full size and 87 keys in a compact form.

What Are the Characteristics of the ANSI Keyboard Layout?

The characteristics of the ANSI layout include the broad keys, the left, and right shift keys have the same size and the backslash key is located directly above the enter key and has the same size as the right Ctrl key. The right and left Alt keys are also the same on an ANS keyboard.

– Advantages and Disadvantages

Now let’s check additional information about this product:

  • The ANSI keyboard is a typical layout, especially in the US.
  • ANSI standard keyboard has 101 keys and its full-size keyboard has 104 keys, including alphanumeric, punctuation, and function keys.
  • Its layout does not have a spare key that allows it to fit another key. That key could be another language or an additional symbol.
  • ANSI keyboard has a standard size and shape, making it easy to find and use the keys.

The main advantages of the ANSI keyboard layout are:

  • They are less expensive.
  • Have varieties of options. It’s more than the ISO layout.
  • They are reprogrammable to any language.
  • Variety of options available for PCBs, keycap sets, and much more.

Alongside with pros, there are some disadvantages of ANSI keyboard layout:

  • The placement of keys causes typing issues.
  • Enter key is smaller compared to the ISO layout.
  • There are only 68 keys for 60% of layout keyboards.
  • Overall keyboard keys are smaller, which causes typo errors.

– Features of ANSI Keyboard

The main features of this type of keyboard are listed below:

  • Quickly accessible keys in ANSI layout

The symbols and frequently utilized keys, such as; spacebar, enter key and backslash, etc., on the ANSI keyboard are more easily accessible than on other layouts.

  • Accessing alternative layouts on the ANSI keyboard

It is easy to alternate layouts on ANSI. In order to access alternative layouts on ANSI keyboards, press Alt+Shift-key along with the key with the symbol required.

  • ANSI keyboards keycaps

Remember there are two main types of keyboard keycaps: ANSI and ISO. ANSI keycaps are more common in the US, whereas ISO keycaps are common in Europe. ANSI keycaps have a different layout than ISO keycaps.

Features of ANSI Keyboard

However, the difference is too small to be noticed. Additionally, the most noticeable difference between the two keyboards is the size of the Enter key. ANSI keycaps have a small lip on the bottom edge, whereas ISO keycaps do not.

  • Backtick key or tilde key position in ANSI layout

The Tilde or Backtick key, represented as the “~” symbol key, is present at different positions in ANSI and ISO layouts. In the case of the ANSI-layout keyboards, the Backtick key or the tilde key is at the bottom left of the keyboard and is situated on the right of the left-shift key. It is also the additional key present in the ANSI layout beside the Shift key.

Where To Find ANSI Keycaps?

ANSI keycaps are widely available, almost everywhere. Some well-known websites are;

  • Amazon

It is unnecessary to type ANSI keycaps on the search bar to look for the results; Amazon as it is already set on default. Buyers can buy the keycaps from Amazon but ensure that the delivery is authentic and from an official retailer.


As the name of the website speaks for itself, an extensive collection of ANSI keycaps are available for various types of mechanical keyboards. A buyer can buy the parts of this layout keyboard and make a new one for themselves. This is how big their collection/store is.

  • KBD Fans

Another website is KBD Fans, where a person can purchase the desired ANSI keycaps. They can redesign their keyboard by purchasing various colors of keycaps or keys.

What Are the Characteristics of ISO Keyboard Layouts?

The characteristics of the ISO keyboard layout are that in the ISO layout, the enter key is large and tall with an upside-down L-shaped key. Its left shift key is half the size of the right shift key. Moreover, in an ISO keyboard, the right Alt key is replaced by the Alt Graph key.

– Additional Features

The extra features of this keyboard are:

  • Bigger keyboard.
  • Big and wide keys to help make typing smoother.
  • Sixty-nine keys for 60% of keyboard layout.
  • It provides better support for extended symbols.
  • It supports European languages.

In contrast to ANSI keycaps, ISO keycaps are considered to have higher quality. This is because they are thicker than AMSI keyboards and use high-quality plastic. ISO keycaps have a smooth texture and consistent color.

In ISO layout keyboards, the “~” symbol key is present on the top left of the keyboard and is located on the left side of the Numeric “1” key. These keys are additional keys and wider than ANSI keys.

– Advantages of ISO Keyboard Layout

Three main advantages are given below with an explanation;

  • The Alt Graph key on the keyboard

Alt Graph, also known as AltGr, is a key included in ISO keyboards. This key allows users to type characters that have diacritics quickly. A diacritic is a small symbol added to a letter on the keyboard to change its sound, such as; acute—á. Moreover, this layout is trendy in Europe.

Advantages of ISO Keyboard Layout

Adding diacritics is an advantage to ISO layout because when a character has more than two diacritics, the Alt Graph key allows access to the third and fourth variants. However, even without the Alt Graph key, the symbols can still be accessed, but it requires more of a workaround that can affect the typing speed. One of these workarounds is remapping the keyboard keys.

  • Closer backslash key

Since the backslash key is left of the enter key, it is much easier to reach and helps improve the typing speed and increase accuracy. This is helpful for people who use this key more frequently than usual, especially developers. However, the backslash key is not a common key used outside of coding.

– Disadvantages of ISO Keyboard Layout

Some of the disadvantages of ISO layout are explained below:

  • The Enter key is further away

The location of the enter key on ISO keyboards is the most significant disadvantage. It is located far away on the keyboard in order to include the backslash key. This is a problem because the enter key is a heavily used key on the keyboard; it should not be located so far.

This is an advantage for the ANSI layout because, in regular use, the enter key is frequently used more than the backslash key. Thus, for most users, being able to reach the enter key is more important than the backslash key.

  • Left shift key is located far

Generally, the left shift key is used more frequently than a backslash or greater/less key. Thus, the shortening of the left shift key is bad news for ergonomics. The left shift key in this layout was shortened to add a backslash or greater/less key.

  • Price and availability

ISO layouts are costly and have low availability because their counterparts are less popular than ANSI counterparts. Therefore, it is hard to find them commonly. Moreover, ISO keyboards come with fewer options. Another reason why it is expensive is due to its manufacturing cost. Finding ISO keycap sets can be difficult.

  • Expensive and typing difficulties

A disadvantage of this layout keyboard is that, while using it, the pinky finger must cross two other keys before pressing the enter key. Therefore, this makes typing very difficult. Even for beginners, this keyboard layout is really hard to work or practice. Furthermore, this layout is really complex and wastes a lot of time. Every time a new paragraph is to be written, the user has to skip and jump over the two switches/keys.

Another factor is the ISO keyboard’s cost. These keyboards are less standard or common than ANSI layout keyboards. Therefore, they can be challenging to find in local computer shops – or their counterparts. As a result, ISO keyboards are expensive.

Where To Find ISO Keycaps?

Some famous, well-known places to buy ISO keycaps are;

  • CandyKeys

ISO keycaps can be bought at Candykeys. A wide selection of ISO keycaps is available there. Although it is not as wide as many ANSI keycaps, it is a great place to look for keycaps.

  • Drop

Drop is another excellent place to look for keycaps. It is used for group purchases. This website offers huge discounts on ISO keycaps.

Where To Find ISO Keycaps

A bulk of keycaps are available and ready for group purchases.

  • KBD Fans

This website offers eight various ISO keycap sets. They have dye-sublimated Cherry profile keycaps and blank keys for 65% to 60% of keyboards. Buyers can purchase ISO keycap sets to replace some specific keys on their keyboards.

– Need-to-know-facts About ISO-keyboard

Some must-to-know facts are: 

  • This layout is ideal for international users who do not speak English.
  • The ISO keyboard is primarily available in Europe.
  • ISO keyboard physical layout comes equipped with up to 105 keys for full-size keyboards and 88 keys (Tenkeyless) for PCs.
  • ISO keyboards are expensive with limited options.


1. Is It Possible To Use an ANSI Keyboard When the Language Uses an ISO Layout?

Yes, it is possible to use an ANSI keyboard when the language supports an ISO layout. It is possible because mechanical keyboards allow extra characters and keys to be customized.

2. What Is the “JIS” Layout?

JIS stands for Japanese Industrial Standard design. The Enter key on this keyboard is similar to the flipped L-shape. Moreover, the right shift key splits into two keys and the backspace key is divided in two. JIS layout adds three additional keys in the spacebar areas. Furthermore, the JIS layout has five additional keys compared to the ANSI layout that can be attached to the keyboard; a Full-size keyboard with 109 keys. However, these extra keys are necessary to input Japanese characters correctly.

3. Which Is Better for Gaming: ANSI or ISO?

Due to the AltGr key, ISO keyboards make it easier to type considering different languages. ANSI keyboards are more ergonomic and are popular with gamers in the United States since they are standard layouts there.

There is no apparent difference between ANSI and ISO layouts in terms of gaming. However, some people prefer the ISO keyboard for its smaller size, while others prefer the standard layout of the ANSI keyboard. However, it is up to the gamer to decide which keyboard is best for them.

4. Who Uses the ISO Layout Keyboard?

European countries mainly use ISO keyboard layouts. In contrast to ANSI keyboards, these keyboards have one extra key. It is also referred to as 102-key, 105-key, and 88-key for PCs.

The purple and pink keys illustrate the keys that differ from ANSI keys.

5. Why Keyboard Layouts Matter?

Keyboard layouts matter because they impact productivity and comfort. When someone is not comfortable with the ANSI or ISO layout, they should explore some of the alternative keyboard layouts.

6. What Is the ANSI and ISO Standard? 

ANSI and ISO are acronyms of two standardized world organizations. ANSI is the American National Standards Institute, whereas ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. Both keyboard layouts work with the size and position of keys different from the regular QWERTY, Colemak, Dvorak, etc. The difference between them is the enter key, backslash, and left shift key

Who Uses the ISO Layout Keyboard


After reading this guide thoroughly, you will be able to identify the differences between the two keyboard layouts. Although both layouts are excellent options to buy, it still depends upon the buyer’s personal preference. However, it is recommended to buy ANSI keyboards due to additional features readily available as well as its affordable price point without compromising the highly accurate keyboards. 

In summation, ISO keyboards are rare layouts that cannot be found locally in marketplaces or even shop places. However, some old shops might have this version of keyboards on sale. 

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