The keyboard is an element that has become so commonly used and widely used commercially that these details often go unnoticed. The notches on the F, J and the 5 of the number pad on keyboards they have always been there, and we use them daily without realizing or knowing what they are there for, but once you know it they can change the way you use this extremely common peripheral.
Why do keyboards have these notches on some keys?
If you look at the QWERTY keyboard that you use every day with your PC, you will notice that there are a total of three keys (as we have said before, F, J and the 5 of the number pad) that have small notches or rather protrusions. It doesn’t matter what keyboard you have, whether you use a laptop or have a Apple Mac, those notches will be there, and you’ve probably never wondered why.
These three keys are part of the center line of keys on the QWERTY keyboards, known as the start row. The purpose of these notches on the F and J keys is to guide the user to correctly position their hands according to typing standards, so that they can position them correctly on the keyboard to reach all the keys equally without looking, as if it were a braille code.
According to these notches, we must place the index finger of the left hand on the notch of the F key, while the index finger of the right hand must be placed on the J key, so that the rest of the fingers of the two hands remain arranged in an organized way to be able to reach the rest of the keyboard keys without problems.
Actually, for most people these notches are of little use in everyday keyboard use. This is because most people have never taken a typing class and rather rely on their experience after a long time using keyboards; For this reason, over years and years of self-evolved typing habits, people have their own way of using the keyboard and you would be surprised at how fast a person who has never taught typing can write. typing but that he has been using his keyboard for years, including typing without having to look at the device (something that is essential to have a great speed when typing).
However and with everything, a professional typist will always have a greater speed but above all a greater precision when writing (you can consult, for example, the 10FastFingers database, in which you will see that an “average” user is able to type 80 PPM (words per minute), while a professional can exceed 200.
And it is that it has been shown that no matter how much experience one has using a keyboard, those who have taken typing classes are capable of typing much faster and are much less mistaken than those who do not … and for this there are these notches on keyboards, because a One of the main things when learning to type is to position your hands correctly on the keyboard to be able to write without looking at it; These notches are simply for that, because knowing that you must place your index fingers over the notches you will be able to do it without having to look thanks to the sense of touch.
The exceptions that confirm the rule
Of course, in the world we live in there are few things that are completely universal and therefore we also find exceptions regarding keyboard notches. For starters, they have no use in the keyboards of touchscreen devices like the smartphones that are so widespread today; in our smartphones and tablets We primarily use our thumbs for typing, and while we can type very quickly this way, researchers have started to feel the need to create a keyboard faster than that. QWERTY, the most widespread.
Obviously, on a smartphone we do not write like on a PC keyboard: we do not have our hands resting on the table or both hands ready with all the fingers ready to press keys, but as a general rule we write by holding the device with both hands and typing just with your thumbs. This creates difficulties in two ways: the typing speed is limited and of course it is sovereignly lower than what we can achieve on a PC keyboard, and on the other hand, with the screens of increasingly large devices, it is quite difficult to reach the keys that are in the center area.
For these reasons, researchers have created a new type of keyboard called KALQ, with a rather unusual distribution that moves the most frequent keys to the edges of the screen, leaving the center area practically empty or only with a numeric pad there. Currently this type of keyboard is not extended and can only be used by installing third-party applications, but the intention is to extend its use to make it a standard on touch screens.
Touchscreens obviously do not have those notches characteristic of PC keyboards since there is no tactile sensation on the fingers possible, but there are other exceptions as well, such as non-QWERTY keyboards; Although it is true that the QWERTY key layout (and its variants such as AZERTY) are the most typical and widespread throughout the world, there are other layouts such as DVORAK or keyboards TypeMatrix that are also widely used and that, in some cases, they do not have these notches or, if they do, they are located on different keys.