Computer keyboard key explanations

Updated: 03/05/2023 by Computer Hope
Num Lock and Scroll Lock keyboard keys

When dealing with technical commands that use a keyboard (for example, web pages or the command line), you may hear such things as forward slash, backslash, and caret. Often, these terms can confuse new users because they're unfamiliar with them.

This page provides an example of a PC keyboard and a table listing non-alphanumeric keys for US-based keyboards, with a description or link for additional information.


For information on keyboard shortcut combinations (e.g., Ctrl+S or Alt+F4), see our computer keyboard shortcuts page.

Example of a keyboard

Below is a close-up image of a QWERTY computer keyboard with each of the keys selectable. You can hover your mouse cursor over any key to see a description. Clicking any of the keys opens a new page with full details.

Keyboard keys Escape (Esc) Key Function Keys Print Screen (Prt Scrn) Key Scroll Lock Key Pause and Break Key Tilde and Back Quote Key 1 and Exclamation Key 2 and At Key 3 and Hash Key 4 and Dollar Sign Key 5 and Percent Key 6 and Caret Key 7 and Ampersand Key 8 and Asterisk Key 9 and Open Parenthesis Key 0 and Close Parenthesis Key Dash and Underscore Key Equals and Plus Key Backspace Key Insert (Ins) Key Home Key Page Up (Pg Up) Key Num Lock Key Divide Key Times Key Subtract Key Tab Key Top Row Keys Open Bracket and Open Brace Close Bracket and Close Brace Enter or Return Key Delete (Del) Key End Key Page Down (Pg Dn) Key Numeric Keypad Plus Key Caps Lock Keys Home Row Keys Semicolon Key and Colon Key Single Quote Key and Quote Key Backslash Key and Pipe Key Left Shift Key Bottom Row Keys Comma Key and Less Than Key Period Key and Greater Than Key Forward Slash Key and Question Mark Key Right Shift Key Arrow Keys Enter Key Left Ctrl Key Left Windows Key Left Alt Key Spacebar Right Alt Key Right Windows Key Menu Key Right Ctrl Key Period key Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, and Num Lock LED lights

Listing of non-alphanumeric keys

Key/symbol Explanation
Windows PC keyboards have a Windows key that looks like a four-pane, wavy window.
Command Apple Mac computers have a Command with a symbol resembling a cloverleaf.
Menu PC keyboards also have a Menu key that looks like a cursor pointing to a menu.
Esc Esc (escape) key.
F1 - F12 What are the F1 through F12 keys?
F13 - F24 Information about the F13 through F24 keyboard keys.
Tab Tab key.
Caps lock Caps lock key.
Shift Shift key.
Ctrl Control key.
Fn Function key.
Alt Alternate key (PC only; Mac users have an Option key).
Spacebar Spacebar key.
Arrows Up, down, left, right Arrow keys.
Back Space Back space (or Backspace) key.
Delete Delete or Del key.
Enter Enter key.
Prt Scrn Print Screen key.
Scroll Lock Scroll Lock key.
Pause Pause key.
Break Break key.
Insert Insert key.
Home Home key.
Page up Page up or pg up key.
Page down Page down or pg dn key.
End End key.
Num Lock Num Lock key.
~ Tilde.
` Acute, back quote, grave, grave accent, left quote, open quote, or a push.
! Exclamation mark, exclamation point, or bang.
@ Ampersat, arobase, asperand, at, or at symbol.
# Octothorpe, number, pound, sharp, or hash.
£ Pound Sterling or Pound symbol.
$ Dollar sign or generic currency.
¢ Cent sign.
¥ Chinese/Japanese Yuan.
§ Micro or section.
% Percent.
° Degree.
^ Caret or circumflex.
& Ampersand, epershand, or and symbol.
* Asterisk, mathematical multiplication symbol, and sometimes called a star.
( Open or left parenthesis.
) Close or right parenthesis.
- Hyphen, minus, or dash.
_ Underscore.
+ Plus.
= Equal.
{ Open brace, squiggly brackets, or curly bracket.
} Close brace, squiggly brackets, or curly bracket.
[ Open bracket.
] Closed bracket.
| Pipe, or, or vertical bar.
\ Backslash or reverse solidus.
/ Forward slash, solidus, virgule, whack, and mathematical division symbol.
: Colon.
; Semicolon.
" Quote, quotation mark, or inverted commas.
' Apostrophe or single quote.
< Less than or angle brackets.
> Greater than or angle brackets.
, Comma.
. Period, dot, or full stop.
? Question mark.