ANSI Vs ISO: (Engineer’s Opinion)-( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Though we all use computer keyboards, we rarely notice the keyboard layout. Did you know that your keyboard layout can even impact your productivity?

Out of the different keyboard layouts, I would compare the most popular keyboard layouts, the ANSI vs ISO layouts.

ANSI Vs ISO Layout

Full FormAmerican National Standards InstituteInternational Organization for Standardization
Key Shape DifferenceRectangle-shaped keyL shaped key
Key Position DifferenceThe backslash key is above the Enter key.The backslash key is to the left of the Enter key.
Key Size DifferenceThe left shift key is the same size as the Right shift key.The left shift key is about 50% smaller than the right shift key
Key Functionality DifferenceLeft and Right Alt keys are the sameThe right Alt key is replaced with a Alt Gr key.
Number of Keys for Full Size104 keys 105 keys 
Number of Keys for Tenkeyless87 keys88 keys
AdvantagesBetter Placement of keys for normal usage that is better ergonomicsBetter support for extended symbols and the European language.
ansi vs iso

What is ANSI Layout?

ANSI stands for American National Standards Institute. ANSI layout is a layout or keyboard key arrangement by American National Standards Institute.

This layout is used widely in the United States and the Netherlands. The uniqueness of this layout is mainly the full-size keyboards contain 104 keys, and the Enter key is rectangular.

ANSI layout

The above is an image of full size ANSI keyboard layout with 104 keys.

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What is ISO Layout?

ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardisation. This ISO layout is a type of keyboard layout having a different convention of key arrangement.

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The ISO layout is used widely in European countries. This type of keyboard layout has exceptional support for the different symbols.

ISO layout

The above is an image of full size ISO keyboard layout with 105 keys.

Advantages of ANSI layout

ANSI is the most common and widely used keyboard layout.

1. The ANSI keyboard has great Ergonomics, and you will have a great typing experience.

2. The key placement is just perfect for typing in English. The position of the keys feels easily reachable without much time and supports faster typing.

3. Better availability of keycaps as the ANSI layout is common for keyboards.

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Disadvantages of ANSI layout

Though I use the ANSI layout for my keyboard. Still, these are the disadvantages I found:

1. The backslash key is far away from the enter key. This means it will be far away, considering the normal position you hold your keyboard.

2. Enter key is rectangular block-shaped and is less noticeable during fast typing.

3. The ANSI keyboard layout has less support for non-English languages that require additional support for symbols. The ISO layout is way better for other international languages.

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Advantages of ISO Layout

ISO layout for the keyboards is great for international users not using the English language. Let’s discuss the advantages of ISO keyboard layout.

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1. The ISO layout has greater support for symbols way more than the ANSI layout. For, e.g., you can type Dollar symbol “$” by (Shift + 4) keys and Pound symbol “€” with the (4+ Alt Gr) keys. (Alt Gr refers to the right Alt button).

2. The ISO layout has the backslash key near the Enter key. So, if you use the backslash key a lot during typing, this ISO layout would be very helpful. 

Disadvantages of an ISO Layout

ISO layout is a less common keyboard layout used for keyboards. The disadvantages are:

1. It isn’t easy to find the keycaps separately for the ISO layout. So, we use ANSI keycaps in that place.

2. The left and the right shift keys are of different sizes. You might feel a bit weird if you are moving from an ANSI layout to an ISO layout.

3. Though the Enter key and the backspace keys are closer in ISO, this leads to an increase in distance in reaching the Enter key. This is an important factor as, during our fast typing, we often use the Enter key.

4. These keyboards are comparatively more expensive keyboards as compared to the ANSI layout keyboards. So, the extra cost is a disadvantage.

Which is better: ANSI or ISO?

Find here the differences between the ANSI(US layout) and the ISO(UK layout) for keyboards in real life.

Though there are different advantages and disadvantages for these two layouts, there may be a variation in opinions regarding the layout and which one is perfect.

To comment directly on which is the best is not that easy as it is debatable.

Different countries have made their standards in the keyboard layout which they follow.

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The ANSI layout is widely used in the Netherlands and the United States. However, ISO layout keyboards are used in European countries.

The ISO layout has added advantages to support the European language better than the ANSI layout.

This video will give a good idea about the differences between the ANSI and the ISO keyboard layouts. Also, you will get to know how to use ISO characters on an ANSI US keyboard. This will help to get more out of the ANSI keyboard layout.

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Frequently Asked Related Questions

How hard is it to switch from ISO to ANSI?

ISO and ANSI have the differences mainly in Enter, Backspace, Shift keys. You will need a few days to relearn the layout. The switch from ISO to ANSI would not be hard.

Can I use ANSI keycaps on an ISO keyboard?

If you buy ANSI keycaps for an ISO keyboard, then for most of the keys you would be good. Only the Enter key and the Left Shift key you would not be able to replace.


The different types of keyboard layouts are advantageous for the type of language you use. If you use majorly English language, then the ANSI keyboard layout is better.

However, if you use multiple languages and symbols often, then the ISO keyboard layout has better support.