More about the keyboard


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More about the keyboard

a close up of a computer keyboard

What's coming up?

There is more to a keyboard than just letters and numbers.

In this topic, you will find out about navigating around the screen using the Tab and arrow keys, scrolling using the Page Up and Page Down keys, and creating new lines when typing using the Enter key.

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A close up of a keyboard with the Space bar highlighted in green

The Space bar

The Space bar is the long, horizontal key at the bottom of your keyboard. The Space bar is used to add a space between words as you type. Tapping the Space bar once adds a single space. Holding the Space bar down will add lots of spaces very quickly, so it's good to use this key gently when typing.

The Enter key

On some larger keyboards, there may be two Enter keys. They both operate in the same way, however there is one closer to the number pad to use if you are typing numbers.

Pressing the Enter key instructs your computer to start a new line when you are typing. This can be handy when you want to start a new paragraph or if you want to create an itemised list.

The Enter key is sometimes referred to as the Return key, depending on what type of keyboard you are using.

A close up of a keyboard with the Enter keys highlighted in green
A close up of a keyboard with the Shift keys highlighted in green

The Shift keys

As we discussed in the previous activity, the Shift keys are very useful as they allow you to type in capital letters. Holding down the Shift key as you press a letter on the keyboard will add a capitalised version of that letter.

Although there are usually two Shift keys on a standard keyboard, you only need to use one of them to make letters capitals, so it depends on which feels more comfortable for you.

Using the Shift key will also allow you to type in the upper characters and symbols on shared keys, for example the question mark. Let's have a look at some examples of shared keys and what happens when you use them with the Shift key.

Using the Shift key

Holding the Shift key at the same time as other keys allows you to add symbols and punctuation. For example:

  • Pressing Shift key and the key displaying the ? and the / results in the question mark being typed.
  • Pressing the Shift key and the key displaying the ( and the number 9 results in the left bracket symbol being typed.
  • Pressing the Shift key and the key displaying the & and the number 7 results in the ampersand being typed.
A graphic of the shift key and character keys being pressed together and the resulting character being typed
A close up of a keyboard with the Backspace key highlighted in green

The Backspace key

The Backspace key allows you to erase any letter, number or character you have just typed. A single press of the Backspace key will delete the previous character.

Holding the Backspace key down will quickly delete whole words and sentences, so it's a good idea to be gentle with this key!

The Arrow keys

These four keys are usually found to the right of the letters on a standard keyboard and allow you to move up and down a page or from side to side.

If you are typing in a document, you can move up and down from line to line using the Up and Down arrow keys. Likewise, you can move from back and forth through a sentence using the Left and Right keys.

A graphic of the four arrow keys on a standard keyboard highlighted in green
A close up of a keyboard with the Page up and Page down keys highlighted in green

The Page up and Page down keys

These keys work in a similar way to scrolling with the mouse, but help you jump from one page to the top of the next in a single tap of the key.

When viewing a document that has more than one page, pressing the Page Down key (sometimes shortened to PgDn) on your keyboard will take you to the top of the next page. Likewise, you can move back up a whole page by pressing the Page Up key (sometimes shortened to PgUp).

The Esc (Escape) key

Found in the top left-hand corner of most keyboards, the Esc (short for Escape) key is a bit like a cancel button. It allows you to interrupt a command or process that your computer is undertaking.

An example might be if you are viewing a video in fullscreen mode on your computer and you wanted to return it to the original size, tapping the Esc key will make this happen.

Another example is if a program or web browser is taking too long to perform a task, tapping the Esc key will stop the program or browser from continuing.

A graphic of the Esc key on a standard keyboard highlighted in green
A close up of a keyboard with the Tab key highlighted in green

The Tab key

The Tab lets you skip from one area on a web page to another. For example, this key is useful if you are filling in an online form and need to provide a range of personal details. You can enter your name and then press the Tab key to move to the next section to enter your email address, etc.

Tapping the Tab key will move you forward to the next section or area, but using the Shift and the Tab key together will move you to the previous section or area, so you can skip through sections of websites and online forms very quickly.

Other useful keys

The keyboard has many keys that you will find useful.

In the next slide, we will take a look at useful keys on the keyboard and what they do. Please click on the Continue button and watch the video.

More about the keyboard: Other useful keys

This demonstration video is approximately 57 seconds in duration. It demonstrates special keys on typical keyboards.

Once the video starts, the intro panel fades and we see the screen is split into two parts. On the left-hand side is an animation of a standard QWERTY keyboard. On the right-hand side, there is text displayed, which is the script for the voiceover track.

Voiceover: "Esc is like a cancel or stop button. Esc stands for Escape."

The left-hand panel is highlighting the Esc button in pink .

Voiceover: "Pressing F1 opens the Help window."

The left-hand panel highlights the F1 button in pink and we see the mouse pointer click on it. Then, the Help window pops up.

Voiceover: "Pressing the Windows key brings up the computer's main menu."

The left-hand panel updates to remove the Help window, and highlights the location of the two Windows keys on the keyboard. The computer's main menu then slides up into view.

Voiceover: "Ctrl works together with other keys. Ctrl stands for Control. For example, if you hold down the Ctrl and the C key, you can copy text or images. You can then paste these somewhere else by pressing the Ctrl and V."

The left-hand panel updates to remove the Windows main menu and highlights the location of the Ctrl keys.

Voiceover: "You can even save and print documents by pressing Ctrl with S for save, or P for print."

Video ends.

a close up of someone typing on their keyboard


You've completed the More about the keyboard activity. You've learned about the location of helpful keys on standard keyboards and what they do.

This is the end of the Using a keyboard course, but we have some great games and practice activities for laptop and desktop computers so that you can hone your mouse and keyboard skills. Visit our Be Connected Topic library to find out more.