Keyboard Keys: How Many Types of Keys Are There on a Keyboard?

Christopher Latham Sholes invented the very first QWERTY keyboard back in 1867. Since then, we have seen a lot of keyboards with different styles, mechanisms and even colours. However, do we know in depth about the very basic component of the keyboard, which is the keys? So let us take a moment to learn more about what kinds of keys there are and what they do.

Types of Keys in a Keyboard

Although there are lots of variations for the keys, and it depends on the manufacturers and the functionality they are providing, if we are to consider the basic keys, they are alphabet keys, number or numeric keys, special keys, navigation keys, and so on. There are many different sets of these keys that serve a variety of purposes, so we should take a closer look at them.


Alphabet Keys

The Alphabet keys are the basics of every keyboard, whether the keyboard is physical or virtual. As their name implies, the Alphabet keys start with the letter A and end with the letter Z, which means 26 keys in total. So, essentially using the keys, you can type words, search for something or even write a notice or document.

Number Keys

These are the number or the numeric set of keys which consists of numbers from 0 to 9 along with arithmetic operators such as + (addition), – (subtraction), * (multiplication) and / (division), which are essential for calculation tasks. This set of keys can be located at the right part of the keyboard, or in some rare keyboards, it comes as a secondary part.

Special Keys

These sets of keys can be called Special or even multimedia keys. These keys serve different functionalities other than the common ones, such as playing or pausing music, controlling volume, sharing, searching or going to settings. There are either separate or combined keys at the top of most keyboard layouts.

Function Keys

These are the F-Keys which can be located at the top part of the keyboard from F1 to F12. These function keys are used for different actions depending on which application you are using. The app’s help screen can be accessed, files or folders can be renamed, windows can be closed, or full-screen mode can be exited.

Navigation Keys

Navigation keys are those such as arrow up, arrow down, left, and right, as well as page up, page down, delete and insert. Navigation keys help you to navigate within the application that you are using or even to reach a specific section in the menu. As these shortcut keys also contain shortcuts that can be used to delete or insert items without having to have any secondary permissions.

Toggle Keys

There are four most common toggle keys: Caps lock, Insert, Scroll lock, and Num lock. As stated in the name of the key set, a toggle key set basically enables users to switch between different features. For example, with a Caps lock key, we can switch between uppercase letters and lowercase letters.

Modifier Keys

There are four modifier keys on the keyboard, and this consists of Shift, CTRL, Alt and Win. In this case, the keys are combined with keys to access certain functionality. For example, using CTRL + C, we can cut or copy the word, and using CTRL + V, we can paste the same. The SHIFT key is used to access capital, symbols or punctuation on the keyboard.

Punctuation Keys

The name suggests that these keys are used to punctuate any sentence or paragraph. To use any punctuation, we must combine these keys with SHIFT. For example, ( SHIFT + ? ) to add a question mark. We can use punctuation like periods, commas, apostrophes, quotations, questions, exclamations, brackets, braces, parentheses, dashes, hyphens, ellipses, colons, and semicolons.

Also Read: What are the shortcut keys for the Undo and Redo commands on Windows and Mac?


What are the seven special keys on the keyboard?

There are seven special keys on a keyboard that can be accessed in combination, and these are the shortcuts to some of the most useful functions.

Ctrl-S – to save any file or task.
Ctrl-O – to open any file or task
Ctrl-N – to create a new file or task
Ctrl-C – to copy the file or task
Ctrl-V – to paste the copied file or task
Ctrl-X – to cut and copy the file or task
Ctrl-Z – to undo the cut copy file or task
Ctrl-A – to select all the files or tasks at once

What is the 10-key keyboards called?

These are also known as numeric keypads, number pads, Numpad, or ten keys and are basically palm-sized keyboards consisting of numbers from 0 to 9 dedicated to calculative tasks. These keys come in handy when there is a great deal of typing or continuous calculations, and they are comfortable to use.

What are key symbols?

The top part of the keyboard, alongside the numbers, contains these symbols, which represent commands or functionality when combined with SHIFT keys. There are symbols such as ! @ # $ % ^ & *.

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