One of the primary input devices used with a computer, the keyboard looks very similar to the keyboards of electric typewriters, with some additional keys. Keyboards allow a computer user to input letters, numbers, and other symbols into a computer and is what allows you to write an e-mail and is what you used to visit this web page. Below is an example of a Saitek keyboard with indicators pointing to each of the major sections of the keyboard.

Computer keyboard overview

Overview of each section of the keyboard


The keyboard is the primary portion of the keyboard that contains all alphanumeric and symbol keys. Today most users use the QWERTY style keyboards, as shown in the below graphic illustration.

Qwerty keyboard layout

Function keys

The Function keys or F1 through F12 keys are used in programs as shortcut keys to performed frequently performed tasks. For example, the F1 key is the key to open the online help for most programs.

Control Keys

The Control keys are what give you additional control of a document. See our Control keys definition for additional information and further examples of control keys.


Although not available on all computer keyboards, especially laptops; the keypad gives the user a quick access to numbers and math functions such as plus, divide, times, and subtract. See the keypad definition for further information, pictures, and related links.

Wrist pad

In the above example, this plastic wrist pad is included with the keyboard and is intended to help support the user's wrists and relieve stress found from typing on a keyboard. Many computer keyboards do not include a wrist pad; however, there are hundreds of different options for keyboard wrist pads that can be purchased at any local computer retail store or online.

Tip: Experts debate the need for wrist pads and many Ergonomic experts argue that using a wrist pad may be more stressful and may lead to carpal tunnel. Many experts recommend that all computer users keep their hands elevated when typing on the keyboard and not resting on any surface.

Arrow keys

Finally, the arrow keys are four directional arrow keys that allow the user to move their cursor and position on a page. See our arrow keys definition for further information on this term and related links.

Special keys or media keys on a multimedia keyboard

Multimedia keyboards have additional buttons not found on the traditional keyboard. See our special keys page for further information on these keys.

Related pages

Also see: AFK, ALT, CTRL, Delete, Enter, Home row keys, Keyboard terms, Natural keyboard, Numeric keypad, OSK, Shift, Spacebar, Tab, Windows key