ANSI vs ISO: Explained

Published by Ancreu Technology Co., Ltd. 2024-05-14

The acronyms, ANSI and ISO, stand for two different world’s standards organizations. ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute, and ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization. These are both keyboard layouts that describe the size and position of the keys. These are different than the logical layouts such as QWERTY, Colemak, Dvorak, etc. ANSI and ISO keyboards differ in the size and orientation of the Enter key, Backslash, and Left Shift keys.




Enter key

Enter key is a wide rectangle. This is seen commonly in keyboard in the United States.

Enter key is an upside-down L-shape.

Backslash key

Backslash key sits above the Enter key, and fingers need to stretch to reach it.

Backslash key is to the left of the Enter key, and fingers do not need to stretch as far.

Left Shift key

Left Shift key is the same size as the Right Shift key.

Left Shift key is about 50% of the size of the right shift key and is the same size as the Ctrl key.

Right Shift key

Left and Right Alt keys are the same.

The right Alt key is replaces with a Alt Gr key.

Number of keys

104 keys for full-size keyboard and 87 keys for a standard tenkeyless layout

105 keys for a full-sized keyboard of 88 keys for a TKL keyboard.

Commonality of keycaps sets

Typically, keycaps are common in ANSI layout.

ISO keycaps sets are less common, many people living in countries that use ISO layouts buy an ANSI keyboard just for the keycaps sets.


The Alt Graph key is available on ISO keyboards and allows the user to access the third symbol on a key. This is common in other languages. If there is a fourth symbol on the key, this is accessed by pressing Shift and Alt Gr.

The one-key difference between the ANSI and ISO layouts exists in the left shift key. In ANSI keyboards, the left shift key is one large wide rectangular key. In ISO layouts, this shift key is broken into 2 different keys, making up that one key difference. Typically, this extra key will be the <> key.

In fully programmable keyboards, that extra button is what you make of it. It just allows you to fit another extra key. Perhaps in a different language, it could be a symbol or something else.

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