Key assignment

Equipment such as computers, phones or smart phones have a keyboard that users operate for inputting. Every keyboard, whether a keyboard with mechanical keys or a virtual, touch operated keyboard, has a certain key assignment. This key assignment is, both in terms of the position of the individual keys on the keyboard, as well as their coding, normalised to allow the easiest possible operation. Besides these standardised key assignments, many devices allow for a configurable assignment of keys with special functions. These special key assignments make it is possible to use devices in time saving manner, as functions that previously required some effort to access them from a menu can be activated with a single keystroke.

Key assignment for text input

In English-speaking countries a so-called QWERTY keyboard layout is commonly used for text input. QWERTY refers to the first six keys on the top row of letters on a keyboard. Depending on the country, QWERTY keyboards are available with different arrangements for punctuation marks, special characters or language-specific letters.

Key assignment on phones

The key assignment of a telephone differs in the way the numbers are arranged when compared to keypads on calculators, cash registers or the numeric keypad on the computer keyboard. The numbers 1, 2 and 3 are located at the top and the 9 is bottom right. In addition, the star and hash keys are at the bottom left and right, on either side of the zero. These two keys can be used to access special features on the phone or telephone network.


Often, in addition to numbers, keys also have three or four letters printed on them. This enables phone lines to be selected not only via numbers, but also through combinations of letters or names. Dialling using letter sequences is very common in North America.

Key assignments and cloud telephone systems

Although telephony with a cloud telephone system no longer requires a physical phone, as any computer with the appropriate software can be used to make phone calls, for example, by clicking on an entry in the address book, a virtual keypad with a typical phone keypad layout is usually available. This enables calls to be set up by entering individual subscriber numbers.