Keyboard basics


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Keyboard basics

a group of people connecting with the internet

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Computers let you carry out all kinds of useful and interesting tasks, from typing a letter to selling online.

Unless you're using a touchscreen, your computer will have a keyboard.

So let's begin by looking at some keyboard basics. In this activity, you will find out how to type text and numbers using the keyboard.

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The keyboard layout

Like the typewriters that preceded computers, most keyboards are based on a layout known as QWERTY, as these are the first six letters you see on a standard keyboard.

a typical keyboard with the first six keys, Q W E R T and Y, highlighted in green
a close up of number pad on a larger keyboard

Letters and numbers

The letters are located in the middle of the keyboard, with a row of numbers above them. Some larger keyboards have a Number pad on the far-right, which is handy if you need to enter a lot of numbers.

Using the keyboard to type

You can type on your keyboard by using the fingers on both hands to reach each of the keys on your keyboard. If you’re new to typing, it may be easier to start by using your two index fingers. As you get used to typing, you’ll develop a technique that is most comfortable for you. The main thing to remember is that accuracy is more important than speed.

a close up of fingers typing on a keyboard
a close up of a typical keyboard with the Caps Lock and Shift key highlighted in green

Typing capital letters

When typing words in an email or letter, you will no doubt need to use capital letters. To type a capital letter, hold down one of the Shift keys while you tap on the letter you wish to capitalise. You can then release the Shift key and continue typing in lower-case.

To type all in capitals, press the Caps Lock key and once again when you want to return to lower-case.

The number pad

If you have a keyboard with a number pad, you can use this to enter numbers. Sometimes the number pad can be locked. If this is the case, press the num lock (NmLk) key to unlock it before typing on the number pad.

a number pad and Number Lock key highlighted in green
the number keys on a keyboard highlighted in green

The number keys

If your keyboard doesn’t have a number pad, enter numbers into your computer by pressing the number keys located above the letters on your keyboard.

Punctuation and special symbols

As with all writing, it's just as important to include punctuation when typing on a computer. You may also need to type special symbols from time to time. Most keyboards have special symbols and punctuation marks on shared keys, so it might be a bit unfamiliar to start with, but the more you use the keyboard, you will soon become more familiar with their location.

a close up of a keyboard with a number of symbol keys highlighted in green
a close up of a keyboard with the shift and question mark keys highlighted in green

Shared keys

You will notice that many of the keys on your keyboard have more than one letter, number or symbol on them. This is because many of the keys allow you to enter more than one character, and you can access the character on the top of the key by using the Shift key.

For example, the key with a question mark also has a forward slash character underneath it. To type the question mark, you will need to hold down the Shift key as you press the question mark key.

Practise makes perfect!

Like most things, the term Practise makes perfect rings true for typing. The more you use your keyboard, the more comfortable you will become with locating the letters, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks.

Importantly, remember that accuracy is better than speed when typing, so there's no need to rush. As you get more familiar with the location of the keys on a keyboard, your speed will improve too.

a close up of hands on a keyboard
a close up of someone typing on their laptop


You've completed the Keyboard basics activity.

You've learnt how to type letters, numbers and symbols.

In the next activity, More about the keyboard, you'll learn how you can use the keyboard to navigate around the screen, as well as other important keys to know about.