What is the difference between ANSI and ISO keyboards?

To each their own.

Photo by Axville

Whether you are trying to find the most comfortable keyboard for work or trying to gain a competitive advantage while gaming, a keyboard layout is as important as the keyboard itself. With so many types of keyboards available today, you will likely come across both ANSI and ISO keyboards. These are two of the most popular keyboard layout types. But what is the difference between ANSI and ISO keyboards?

ANSI and ISO keyboards are similar in many ways; however, they have a few key differences in the layout and size of the Enter, backslash, left Shift, and right Alt keys. Most gamers living in the United States will be more accustomed to ANSI layouts, as they are more common in the region, whereas ISO keyboards are more common in most other countries.

Key differences

Enter key

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.

Backslash key

On an ANSI keyboard, the backslash key is located above the Enter key. With the ISO configuration, it is moved to the bottom left corner to the right of the left Shift key on an ISO keyboard.

Left Shift key

The left Shift key on an ANSI keyboard is in the bottom left corner and has the same shape as the Enter key. On an ISO keyboard, since the backslash key is moved to the bottom left corner, the left Shift key is essentially being split in half so that the left Shift and backslash keys are both smaller square keys.

Right Alt key

The last major difference between the two keyboards is the function of the right Alt key. While the ANSI keyboard features a standard right Alt key, the right Alt key on an ISO keyboard is actually changed to an AltGr key, which is short for Alt Graph. This makes it easy to access special characters on the keyboard, such as the euro (€) symbol, with ease. 

Thanks to the AltGr key, ISO keyboards make it easy to type with consideration of different languages. ANSI keyboards can be more ergonomic and are popular with gamers in the United States, thanks to providing players easier access to keys such as the Enter and left Shift keys.