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10 Keyboard Layout Differences in the UK vs. the US

uk vs us keyboard

Today, we’re embarking on a delightful keyboard crusade, exploring the subtle yet significant differences between the UK and US keyboards.

Whether you’re a Brit living in the United States or just curious, this article explores the American keyboard, it’s difference between the European keyboard, and the importance of QWERTY.

The Differences Between a UK and US Keyboard Layout

There are various differences between a UK and a US keyboard, most of which you might not even notice were there. 

Here are several differences between the UK and US keyboards that you may not know:

  1. The “ and “@” symbols are swapped: The @ symbol on a US keyboard is above the 2, while on a UK keyboard the “ is above the 2.
  2. The UK keyboard has the “£” symbol: The “£” symbol can be found above the 3 on a UK keyboard, but not on a US one.
  3. The UK keyboard has one more key than a US keyboard: More specifically a UK keyboard has 105 (with a Windows button) while a US one only has 104.
  4. The UK keyboard has an extra key for the “#” and “~” symbols: On a UK keyboard both the hashtag and tilde symbols are to the left of the Enter button. While on the US keyboard, the Tilde can be used to the left of the 1 while holding shift, and the hashtag can be used on the 3 while holding shift.
  5. The “~” symbol replaces the “¬” on a US keyboard: On the grave accent key “`” on a UK keyboard while holding shift you will get the negotiation symbol. While on a US keyboard, you will get the tilde symbol.
  6. The “\” symbol is moved to the left of the “Z”: On a UK keyboard, the “\” symbol can be found to the left of the Z, while on a US keyboard, it can be found below the Back Space key and above the Enter key.
  7. The Enter key spans two rows: On the UK keyboard the Enter key is across two rows but is thinner to accommodate the “#” and “~” keys. The US keyboard is only one row long and has moved those keys elsewhere.
  8. The “€” symbol is a secondary key on the 4 key: The Euro symbol can be used easily on the UK keyboard, but is not present on a US keyboard.
  9. Some UK keyboards do not label the Backspace, Enter, Tab, and Shift in words: Instead, they are replaced by symbols, Backspace (cross), Enter (back arrow), Tab (forward and backward arrows), and Shift (up arrow).
  10. The UK keyboard has an AltGr key: The Alt keyboard to the right of the space bar on a US keyboard is replaced with the AltGr key on a UK keyboard.

UK Keyboard Layout

The United Kingdom and Ireland use the standard BS 4822 (48-key version). Here is an example of a UK keyboard layout on Windows, with the OS version being practically the same.

The UK keyboard layout.

US Keyboard Layout

Here is an example of the US keyboard layout on Windows.

The US keyboard layout.

QWERTY UK and US Keyboards

QWERTY refers to the first six letters in the top right-hand corner of the keyboard, being Q-W-E-R-T-Y. The QWERTY keyboard is the standard layout for countries that use a Latin-based alphabet.

Both the UK and US keyboards utilise the QWERTY layout. However, as described above both the UK and US QWERTY keyboards have differences in key placement and contents.

Final Thoughts from UK vs. USA

As with the English language when compared to their American counterpart, they are mostly the same, with some notable differences. This is no different with UK and US keyboards, with the majority of keys staying the same, bar some new additions and movements.

If you found this article on the difference between UK and US keyboard layouts, check out our article on the differences between UK and US voltage and electrical appliances.

Keyboard Layout UK vs. US Differences FAQ:

Which keyboard is best, the UK or the US?

The UK keyboard is ideal for those needing easy access to pound (£) and euro (€) symbols, while the US keyboard is often preferred by those who use the dollar sign ($) and “@” symbols more frequently. It could be argued that the UK keyboard is more popular due to it having more symbols than the US keyboard.

Can you use an American keyboard in the UK?

Yes, you can use an American keyboard in the UK. However, the keyboard layout will be different. Some of the keys will be in different places, and some of the symbols on the keys will be different. This may make it difficult for you to type correctly, particularly if you are accustomed to the UK keyboard layout. 

However, you can change the keyboard layout settings on your laptop to match the US keyboard. This will allow you to type correctly, even though the physical keys may be in different places.

What is the difference between a UK and US keyboard?

The primary difference between a UK and US keyboard lies in the arrangement of certain characters and symbols. The UK keyboard incorporates the pound (£) symbol and an extra key for the “£” and “@” symbols, while the US keyboard features the dollar sign ($) and the “@” symbol directly on the keyboard without the need for additional key combinations.

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