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Why are there little bumps on F and J keys in the keyboard?

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Posted April 22, 2018

Look at your computer keyboard. You can notice that most buttons have the same generic shape. In fact, the ones used for letters are exactly the same – a small square shape with rounded corners. But a couple of them are different. Why F and J keys have little bumps on them? What are they used for? Knowing the answer to these questions can save you a lot of time.

Little bumps on F and J keys do serve a purpose… if you know how to use them. Image credit: Hlapworth23 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

First of all, you have to understand that a keyboard is a tool. Just like any other tool, it is designed to allow people to work as efficiently as possible. When you are writing your essays you have to appreciate the keyboard, because it is what allows you to write so quickly. Even the letters in a QWERTY keyboard are organized so that the most commonly used ones would not be close together, so that each hand would have something to do. A lot of thinking went into creating a modern keyboard and that is also why F and J keys have these little bumps.

These little ridges on F and J keys allow you to locate your hands on the keyboard without looking at it. You probably don’t use them that way, but they are there to allow you to quickly position your index fingers to appropriate places on the keyboard. Knowing where F and J are you will be able to find every other key just by using your muscle memory. But why F and J buttons were chosen for this role?

Typing with all 10 fingers is a skill, but it is worth learning. Image credit: Sakurambo via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Well, for starters, they are pretty much in the middle of the keyboard. This device is designed to be used using all 10 fingers. The more fingers you involve into typing, the less you have to move your wrists. And so, if you type using all your fingers, you can type quicker. F and J buttons happen to be in the perfect position where your index fingers are supposed to spend the most of their time. But how come pretty much no one knows that?

Well, some decades ago people were actually trained to use keyboards. No we learn it by ourselves, but before the computer age started professional typists were perfecting their skills for several months. They had to learn how to type quickly and making the minimal amount of errors, which required a tremendous amount of concentration. They had to look at the paper while they were typing, but maintain the perfect optimal position of the fingers on the keyboard. And so later F and J buttons were marked with these little bumps.

Nowadays people rarely get any training and so they develop their own unique style of typing. A lot of people do not use all 10 fingers when typing. Actually, it is quite common for people to use only 3 or 4 fingers. So do not feel bad about yourself if you do not care about those F and J keys. By the way, some time ago the 5 button was also marked with a little bump for exactly the same reason. Maybe F an J bumps are going to become extinct too, because no one is really using them anymore.

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