QWERTY vs Dvorak vs Colemak, which is the best keyboard layout?

If you are careful enough, you will find that almost all the keyboards we use in our daily life are QWERTY layouts. Yes, QWERTY keyboards are so common, whether it is an external keyboard on a desktop PC, a built-in keyboard on a laptop, or a virtual keyboard on a mobile phone or tablet, almost all of them use the QWERTY keyboard layout. In fact, the QWERTY keyboard layout is not the most efficient layout. In addition to it, there are two keyboard layouts, Dvorak and Colemak, and both Dvorak and Colemak have higher efficiency. In this article, I will detail and compare QWERTY, Dvorak, Colemak 3 keyboard layouts, and why Colemak is the best keyboard layout.

1. QWERTY keyboard layout

In 1868, American typesetter Christopher Latham Sholes patented a typewriter model and obtained the right to operate it. A few years later he devised the keyboard layout that is common to this day, the “QWERTY” keyboard. The basic principle of this kind of keyboard is to drive a long rod through the keys, with a hammer on the long rod, and the hammer hits the paper through the color tape, thereby leaving a dark letter print, like a cover on the paper the same chapter.

Why is the keyboard not in alphabetical order?
In the beginning, Shoals installed the keyboard alphabetic keys in alphabetical order, that is, the alphabetical order in the upper left corner of the keyboard was “ABCDEF”. But he soon discovered that when the typist was typing a little faster, the long rod and the hammer of two adjacent letters would get stuck together due to the slow recovery of the keystroke, resulting in a “stuck key” failure. It is said that to solve the problem, Shoals asked his brother-in-law, a mathematician and school teacher, to help. The mathematician suggested that he avoid glitches by separating the most commonly linked letters of the English alphabet on the keyboard, slowing the typist’s typing speed. Shoals happily adopted his brother-in-law’s solution, scrambled the letters to create the “QWERTY” layout we see now. Sholes told the public that this arrangement of letters on a typewriter keyboard was the most scientific way to speed up typing, but it wasn’t.

Therefore, the purpose of QWERTY keyboard design from the beginning is not for higher typing efficiency or better ergonomics. On the contrary, in order to reduce the occurrence of stuck keys, the commonly used keys are deliberately separated to reduce the efficiency of typists. It is to improve typing efficiency as much as possible without jamming the keys. So, why are QWERTY keyboards so popular? This is because the QWERTY layout keyboard has been in the commercial market since 1873, while the first version of the Dvorak keyboard appeared in 1932, and the Colemak keyboard layout was created in 2006. Before the appearance of Dvorak and Colemak layouts, QWERTY layout keyboards have been popular for about 60 and 130 years. People have long been accustomed to the QWERTY layout. It will be very difficult to replace other keyboards in a large area, even if it has a higher efficiency.

2. Dvorak keyboard layout

The Dvorak keyboard layout was created in 1932 by American August Dvorak and approved on May 12, 1936. The Dvorak layout is very different from the QWERTY layout. The 3 letters in the first row are replaced by symbols, the right symbols in the last row are replaced by letters, and some other characters. In addition, the Dvorak layout maximizes the load of the middle row, and the load of the left and right hands is equal, which greatly improves the input efficiency. It is estimated that using the Dvorak layout keyboard will reduce the amount of finger movement by about 60%, and the typing efficiency will also increase by more than 60%.

Unfortunately, although the Dvorak keyboard layout is theoretically more efficient to type, there is currently no evidence that the Dvorak layout is faster than the QWERTY layout. The highest recorded typing speed on the QWERTY keyboard is currently 227 WPM, and the highest recorded typing speed on the Dvorak keyboard is 194 WPM. But it should be noted that this does not mean that the Dvorak layout is slower than the QWERTY layout, because most people use the QWERTY layout keyboard all their lives. If more people use the Dvorak layout keyboard for a longer time, there may be more Solid evidence that Dvorak layout is more efficient than QWERTY layout.

3. Colemak keyboard layout

The Colemak keyboard layout was invented by Shai Coleman in 2006. This keyboard layout was originally used for the Latin keyboard layout and was later used for the English keyboard layout. It puts the most commonly used English letters on the main row, which can improve typing efficiency And make typing more comfortable. The Colemak layout is very similar to the QWERTY layout, with the main changes centered on the center and top rows.

Wikipedia English alphabet usage frequency

1. E – 12.7%
2. T –9.1%
3. A – 8.2%
4. O – 7.5%
5. I – 7%
6. N – 6.7%
7. S – 6.3%
8. H – 6.1%
9. R – 6%
10. D – 4.3%

According to the relative frequency of English letters used in typing listed by Wikipedia, the 10 most frequently used English letters E, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R are all located on the main row in the middle of the Colemak layout. This will help us type faster. In addition, the symbol keys of the Colemak layout are almost the same as the QWERTY layout, only the “:;” symbol is moved to the upper key, and the A, Z, X, C, V of our commonly used shortcut keys have not been replaced. position, which means that these common shortcuts still work on Colemak layouts, which will allow us to adapt to Colemak layouts faster.

Another interesting change is that in the Colemak layout, the Caps Lock on the left side of the main row has been replaced with Backspace, which will make it easier for our left pinky to access it, which will be more convenient and faster than reaching the Backspace in the upper right corner. When you want to enter uppercase letters, you only need to hold down Shift and the specified letter key, and we rarely enter a long string of uppercase letters in a row in daily input, so the removal of Caps Lock has very little impact on usage. If you insist on using Caps Lock, you can also use the keymap function to change the function key to Caps Lock.

Conclusion: Among the 3 keyboard layouts QWERTY, Dvorak and Colemak, the Colemak layout is the layout with the most typing efficiency. If you want to try a new keyboard layout, we recommend the Colemak layout. It concentrates the most frequently used keys on the main row, which is more convenient for us to access while typing. And the character keys of the Colemak layout and Z, X, C, V in the common shortcut keys have not changed, which will allow us to adapt to the Colemak layout faster. The QWERTY layout is the least efficient layout among the three layouts, because when it was designed, it was considered that the typist typed too fast and the keys were stuck. Therefore, the QWERTY layout was designed to improve typing as much as possible without the keys being stuck. efficiency. But since the QWERTY layout appeared 60 years earlier than the Dvorak layout and 150 years earlier than the Colemak layout, the QWERTY layout is still the most widely used layout.

FAQ

What keyboard layout is most efficient? Is Dvorak or Colemak better?

Among the three keyboard layouts QWERTY, Dvorak, and Colemak, the Colemak layout is the most efficient and fastest layout, followed by the Dvorak layout. The typing efficiency of the QWERTY layout is lower than that of the Dvorak and Colemak layouts.

What is the most popular layout of keyboard?

The QWERTY layout is currently the most popular and widely used layout. The QWERTY layout is the layout of the old typewriter, improved on the ABCDEF typewriter designed by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1868. Generations of typists have used QWERTY layout typewriters, and after 150 years of development, the vast majority of users now use the QWERTY layout, although it is not the most efficient layout.

What keyboard layout should I choose?

If you don’t want to learn a new keyboard layout, then you can choose the most widely used QWERTY layout. If you want to learn a new keyboard layout to make typing faster, then I recommend you use the Colemak keyboard layout which is the most efficient for typing. The Colemak layout is very similar to the QWERTY layout. The positions of common shortcut keys and symbols have hardly changed, and learning and adaptation will be faster.

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