Re: Keyboard layouts (ISO 9995)

From: Markus Kuhn (
Date: Sat Aug 14 1999 - 06:05:22 EDT

Mark Leisher wrote on 1999-08-10 14:28 UTC:
> Trond> Keys on keyboards should be referred to in a proper way, as laid
> Trond> out in ISO 9995.
> Can ISO 9995 or parts of 9995 be found on the Web? I can't afford a copy at
> the moment.

I don't think so, for the usual brain-dead and progress-killing ISO
copyright-paranoia reasons.

A brief overview of some terms that Alain LaBonté <> posted
here some time ago is on

and appended below.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at,  WWW: <>

ISO 9995 - the international keyboard layout standard - defines some conventions to name key locations. This is a short explanation of these conventions by Alain LaBonté <>, the editor of this standard.

Level 3 is a position on a key (of a computer keyboard) accessible by depressing a "level 3 select" key (also known as AltGr on European-type or Canadian-type keyboards). "Level 2 select" keys are the traditional "Shift" keys, although the term "Shift" is deprecated as there is no longer any physical shift of a mechanism (and there is also a problem in other languages as well, and a problem with the "other shift", the "level 3 shift").

The grid of a keyboard is defined in ISO/IEC 9995-1. Row A is the row of the SPACE BAR. Row E is the row where the digit 1 key in the alphanumeric section of a keyboard (there is also a numeric section on many keyboards, the numeric keypad) is generally located on QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards.

Number coordinates go from left to right, the location of the number 1 in the same alphanumeric section being the relative reference for coordinate 1. Coordinate 0 refers to the key to the left of the digit 1, if any. As in general keys are arranged slanted from row to row, the same numbered key on a lower row is in general slightly to the right of the row above (on QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY keyboards, the letter E is refered as D03).

The full name of the standard is

ISO/IEC 9995:1994, Information technology -- Keyboard layouts for text and office systems.

It has the following parts:

Part 1: General principles governing keyboard layouts Part 2: Alphanumeric section Part 3: Complementary layouts of the alphanumeric zone of the alphanumeric section Part 4: Numeric section Part 5: Editing section Part 6: Function section Part 7: Symbols used to represent functions Part 8: Allocation of letters to the keys of a numeric keypad

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