Introduction to the keyboard

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  • Alphabet/number keyboard – normal keyboard keys containing ordinary alphabet characters in the same sequence as the typewriter.
  • Function keys – the F keys or the function keys are programmable and mainly used by advanced users.
  • Numeric keyboard – a block of numerical keys grouped together in the same way as most calculators. Most of these keys have two functions. When the NumLock light is shining, the keys act like a calculator keyboard. When the NumLock light is not shining, it acts like a cursor key pad. Change between these functions by pressing the NumLock key once.
  • Cursor keys – the arrow keys indicating the direction of movement of the cursor on the screen.
  • Esc (Escape) – this key is used in different ways by different programmes.  It is mainly used to escape to the previous screen of a programme, or to undo what you have just done.
  • Tab – this key enables the cursor to jump a couple of spaces to the right on the screen, see Tab settings To jump the equivalent spaces to the left, use the Shift-Tab keys together.
  • Caps Lock – (a toggle key) When this key is pressed, everything is typed in capital letters.   A light usually indicates that this key is active. Press the CapsLock key again to deactivate this function.  
  • Shift – as with the typewriter, some keys on the keyboard have more than one character.  To type the ‘top’ character the Shift key must be pressed down first, and then the required key is pressed together with the Shift key.
  • Ctrl (Control) – This key is used in combination with other keys in specific programs.
  • Alt (Alternative) – This key is used together with other keys, often with numerical keys to get a particular ASCII character.
  • Space bar – moves the cursor one space to the right every time you press the bar.
  • Backspace – used to delete a character to the left of the cursor.
  • Insert – ( a toggle key) The keyboard is normally in “insert” mode i.e. you are able to insert words in the middle of a sentence or letters in the middle of a word. If you toggle (press) the Insert button it will change to Overwrite (also known as Typeover) mode i.e. whatever you type, will overwrite or type over existing text on the screen.
  • Home – moves the cursor to the beginning of a line or the top left-hand corner of the screen (varies with different programs).
  • Page Up – displays the previous page of a document.
  • Enter – used to move the cursor to the beginning of a new, blank line or to start a new paragraph.
  • Lights – the lights indicate which of the toggle keys are on.
  • Print Screen –  this key is used with graphics programmes to capture a screen image
  • Num Lock – ( a toggle key) this key activates the keys of the numeric keypad.  A light usually indicates that this key is activated.  
  • Delete –  used to delete a character to the right of the cursor.
  • End – moves the cursor to the end of a line or the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
  • Page Down  – displays the next page of a document (varies with different programmes)