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Typing Dvorak Overview

The Dvorak layout was designed to address the problems of inefficiency and fatigue which characterized the QWERTY keyboard layout. The QWERTY layout was introduced in the 1860s, being used on the first commercially-successful typewriter, the machine invented by Christopher Sholes. The QWERTY layout was designed so that successive keystrokes would alternate sides of the keyboard so as to avoid jams. Some sources also claim that the QWERTY layout was designed to slow down typing speed to further reduce jamming.

With improvements in typewriter design, key jams became less of a problem. However, when the electric typewriter was introduced in the 1930s, typist fatigue became more of a problem and, consequently, interest in the Dvorak layout increased.

Dvorak studied letter frequencies and the physiology of people`s hands and created a layout to adhere to these principles:

  • It is easier to type letters alternating between hands.
  • For maximum speed and efficiency, the most common letters and digraphs should be the easiest to type. This means that they should be on the home row, which is where the fingers rest, and under the strongest fingers.
  • Likewise, the least common letters should be on the bottom row, which is the hardest row to reach.
  • The right hand should do more of the typing, because most people are right-handed.
  • It is more difficult to type digraphs with adjacent fingers than non-adjacent fingers.
  • Stroking should generally move from the edges of the board to the middle. An observation of this principle is that when tapping fingers on a table, it is easier going from little finger to index than vice versa. This motion on a keyboard is called inboard stroke flow.

The layout was completed in 1932 and was granted U.S. Patent 2,040,248 in 1936. It was designated an alternate standard keyboard layout by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1982; the standard is X3.207:1991 (previously X4.22-1983), "Alternate Keyboard Arrangement for Alphanumeric Machines". The original ANSI Dvorak layout was available as a factory-supplied option on the original IBM Selectric typewriter.

In 1984, the Dvorak layout had an estimated 100,000 users.

Original Dvorak layout

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The layout standardized by the ANSI differs from the original or "classic" layout devised by Dvorak. Today`s keyboards have more keys than the original typewriter did, and other significant differences existed:

  • The numeric keys of the classic Dvorak layout are:
7 5 3 1 9 0 2 4 6 8
  • In the classic Dvorak layout, the question mark key is in the leftmost position of the upper row, while the slash mark key is in the rightmost position of the upper row.
  • The following symbols share keys (the second symbol being printed when the SHIFT key is pressed):
    • colon and question mark
    • ampersand and slash
    • comma and semicolon

Modern U.S. keyboard layouts almost always place semicolon and colon together on a single key and slash and question mark together on a single key.

Modern operating systems

iBook with keys manually rearranged to the Dvorak layout.

According to Microsoft, versions of the Windows operating system including Windows 98 and Windows NT 3.51 and higher have shipped with support for the U.S. Dvorak layout ; users of earlier Windows versions must download a free update from Microsoft to use the layout.

Many operating systems based on UNIX, including OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Plan 9, and most GNU/Linux distributions, can be configured to use either the U.S. Dvorak layout or the UK/British Dvorak Layout.

Apple brought new interest to the Dvorak layout with the Apple IIc, which had a mechanical switch whereby the user could switch back and forth between the QWERTY layout and the ANSI Dvorak layout. Since about 1998, beginning with Mac OS 8.6, Apple has included the Dvorak layout with Mac OS. In Mac OS X, the option of a Dvorak layout that switches to Qwerty when the Apple key is pressed preserves the ease of Copy/Paste and other shortcuts.

Resistance to change

Although the Dvorak layout is the only other keyboard layout registered with ANSI, and is provided with all major operating systems, attempts to convert universally to the Dvorak layout have not been met with success. The failure of the Dvorak layout to displace the QWERTY layout has been the subject of some studies, and considerable debate.

However, in considering resistance to the adoption of the Dvorak layout, different segments of the market (non-typists, typists, corporations and manufacturers) differ in the extent, nature and motivation of their resistance. Furthermore, the influence of these factors on the different segments of the market have changed over time, following changes in technology and awareness of Dvorak as an alternative keyboard layout. Resistance factors mitigating against adoption of the Dvorak layout have included these:

  1. Failure to demonstrate an overwhelming inherent superiority in speed, economy of effort, and accuracy - noting that the significant issue here is the demonstrability. There have been very few studies done on the relative efficiency of each of the keyboard layouts, and those studies have been criticised for failing to adhere to rigorous academic standards.
  2. Failure to achieve "awareness" in the general population of the existence of the Dvorak layout prior to the publication of Barbara Blackburn`s achievement of 212 wpm using a Dvorak keyboard in the Guinness Book of Records in 1985. More widespread knowledge only came about in the mid 1990s when PCs started to incorporate the Dvorak layout as an option.
  3. Failure to overcome an investment in competence in the QWERTY layout made by an overwhelmingly large number of typists and typist trainers prior to the advent of the Dvorak layout. This investment once established, and thereafter maintained by the typewriter manufacturers, has proved the most powerful influence up until the 1990s. Typing training in schools and secretarial colleges is usually done on the QWERTY layout because it conforms both with the expectation of industry, and because it reflects the competence of the teachers or trainers. It is possible , but not common, for typists competent in the QWERTY layout to train themselves in the Dvorak layout, simply because the emphasis in typing has traditionally been on speed and accuracy. The only widely accepted superiority of Dvorak layouts is in the area of very high speeds that the bulk of typists do not aspire to, nor are expected to achieve. A reduction in efficiency while learning the Dvorak layout further mitigates against its adoptio n by typists already competent using QWERTY (and the organisations that employ them). Notably with the advent of self-teach typing programs on PCs the degree of influence that the QWERTY layout has in formal training is reducing, as nearly all of these programs come with Dvorak layout options.
  4. Failure to persuade large typewriter manufacturers to produce significant volumes of typewriters equipped with Dvorak layouts. It would be sufficient to argue that the manufacturers were responding to the large user base of the QWERTY layout, rather than giving regard to the plausible but unproven assertion that typewriter manufacturers had a vested interest in ensuring that typists could not type faster than the machines could respond mechanically. The advent of PCs created the opportunity to use computer programs to change the value that was registered when a particular key on the keyboard was pressed. By the mid 1990s the Dvorak layout was an installable option on most computer systems. Touch typists proficient in using the Dvorak layout, in common with all touch typists, do not need to look at keyboards, and hence could set a PC to operate using Dvorak mode while using keyboards manufactured and labelled in the QWERTY layout. A traditional QWERTY-layout typist will however find this keyboard almost im possible to use, as nearly every key they press will result in a different value being registered by a PC than they expect. Some Dvorak-layout typists have noted this provides some degree of security against unauthorised use of their PCs. Others, however, physically modify their keyboards to match the Dvorak layout. On many modern operating systems, it is possible to switch keyboard layouts "on the fly," without the installation of additional software or reconfiguration. "On the fly" switching is very convenient if a computer is shared by users accustomed to different layouts: without it, a person who types on another person`s machine may see gibberish on the screen.
  5. Incompatibility between the two keyboard layouts on computers, where keys are assigned additional functions within software programs. In some cases related additional functions are assigned to keys which are physically proximate on the QWERTY layout, but which are no longer physically proximate when using the Dvorak layout. the Unix text editor vi uses the keys H, J, K and L to cause movement to the left, down, up, and right, respectively. With a QWERTY layout, these keys are all together under the right hand home row, but with the Dvorak layout they are no longer neatly together. In many video games, keys W, A, S and D are used for arrow movements, as they are arranged in an inverse-T position in a QWERTY layout. In Dvorak layout, this is no longer true. Keyboard shortcuts in GUIs for undo, copy, cut and paste operations are Ctrl + Z, C, X, and V respectively; conveniently located in the same row in the QWERTY layout, but not on a Dvorak layout. Some of these issues can be overcome with programming solutions, but it adds a layer of complexity to using some computer applications with the Dvorak layout.
  6. Poor OS integration with foreign languages. For example, on Windows XP, one can use the Japanese IME to type Japanese, but only in QWERTY, even if Dvorak is otherwise specified as the default keyboard layout.
  7. Some confusion regarding which of the keyboard layouts designed by August Dvorak is the "real" Dvorak layout. This arose in part due to the existence of, in addition to the standard layout, layouts for left-handed (only) and right-handed (only) use. Also, while Dvorak specified a particular layout for the number sequence at the top of the keyboard, many implementations of the Dvorak layout retain the `1,2,3 9,0` arrangement.

An appreciation of the strength of the resistance factors (particularly the investment in typewriter manufacturing) suggests that the Dvorak layout would need to have been significantly superior to the QWERTY layout in order for the former to displace the latter in widespread use in the past. Logically, if the Dvorak layout was inherently at least as or more efficient as the QWERTY layout then we should see an increasing rate of use as resistance factors (such as lack of awareness, non-programmable machines, and one-style formal training) become less powerful. Unfortunately there are no surveys or studies looking at the rate of use of the Dvorak layout over time.

A discussion of the Dvorak layout is sometimes used as an exercise by management consultants to illustrate the difficulties of change. The Dvorak layout is often used as a standard example of network effects, particularly in economics textbooks, the other standard example being the competition between Betamax and VHS. These examples (particularly QWERTY) are used to demonstrate that inferior technologies sometimes succeed because they get locked-in to the market. Stanley J. Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis, two economists who have investigated these claims in several academic and popular papers, argue that the actual evidence in these cases does not support a claim of market failure or vendor lock-in; as they put it, "the claim that Dvorak is a better keyboard is supported only by evidence that is both scant and suspect," but the validity of these suppositions have been called into question. . All sides of this arguments suffer, however, fro m a lack of well designed studies on the relative strengths of the Dvorak and QWERTY layouts, and of surveys of the rate of use of the Dvorak layout over time.

Besides the Dvorak layout, there are other alternative keyboard layouts, such as Colemak. However, none of these alternative layouts has become widely used.

One-handed versions

There are also Dvorak arrangements designed for one-handed typing, which can provide increased accessibility for those who have difficulty with typical keyboards. Other users enjoy the ability to simultaneously type and control a mouse. Separate arrangements have been designed for each hand.

Right-handed Dvorak layout Left-handed Dvorak layout

Note: The layouts depicted above are available under Microsoft Windows. There is another layout that is slightly different, where the numbers form three columns.

Other languages

The Svorak keyboard layout

In addition, Dvorak-based keyboard layouts have been created for languages other than English.

An implementation for Swedish, known as Svorak , places the three extra Swedish vowels (, and ) on the leftmost three keys of the upper row, which correspond to punctuation symbols on the English Dvorak layout. These punctuation symbols are then juggled with other keys, and the Alt-Gr key is required to access some of them.

Another Swedish version, Svdvorak by Gunnar Parment, keeps the punctuation symbols as they were in the English version; the first extra vowel () is placed in the far left of the top row while the other two ( and ) are placed at the far left of the bottom row.

The Swedish variant that most closely resembles the American Dvorak layout is Thomas Lundqvist`s sv_dvorak, which places , and like Parment`s layout, but keeps the American placement of most special characters.

The Norwegian implementation (known as "Norsk Dvorak") is similar to Parment`s layout, with "" and "" replacing "" and "".

A Finnish DAS keyboard layout follows many of Dvorak`s design principles, but the layout is an original design based on the most common letters and letter combinations in the Finnish language. Matti Airas has also made another layout for Finnish. Finnish can also be typed reasonably well with the English Dvorak layout if the letters and are added.

There are some non standard Brazilian Dvorak keyboard layouts currently in development. The simpler design (also called BRDK) is just a Dvorak layout plus some keys from the Brazilian ABNT2 keyboard layout. Another design, however, was specifically designed for writing Brazilian Portuguese, by means of a study that optimized typing statistics, like frequent letters, trigraphs and words.

The most common German Dvorak layout is the German Type II layout. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. There is also the NEO layout and the de ergo layout , both original layouts that also follow many of Dvorak`s design principles.

There are also French and Spanish layouts.

World record

As of 2005, Barbara Blackburn is the fastest typist in the world, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. Using a Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, she has maintained 150 words per minute for 50 min, 170 word/min for shorter periods of time, and has been clocked at a peak speed of 212 word/min. Blackburn failed her typing class in high school, first encountered the Dvorak layout in 1938, quickly learned to achieve very high speeds, and occasionally toured giving speed-typing demonstrations during her secretarial career.

See also

  • Alternative layouts
  • Keyboard layout
  • Touch typing
  • Velotype
  • Maltron keyboard
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Path dependence


^ Robert Schadewald. "The Literary Piano", Technology Illustrated, December/January 1983. ^ Jordon Kalilich. The Dvorak Keyboard and You. Retrieved on 2006- 06-08. ^ Bigler, Jeff. The Dvorak Keyboard. Retrieved on 2006- 03-21. ^ S. J. Liebowitz and Stephen E. Margolis. The Fable of the Keys. Retrieved on 2006- 06-06. ^ Dissenting Opinion. Retrieved on 2006- 06-06. ^ O que o teclado brasileiro . Retrieved on 2006- 06-08.

External links

  • DvZine.org - A website advocating the Dvorak layout with a webcomic zine
  • The Dvorak Keyboard - A Brief Primer - by journalist Randy Cassingham
  • The Dvorak Keyboard and You - More information about the Dvorak keyboard and how to switch
  • Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard - with many additional links, including information on many methods of reconfiguring your computer (various OSs) to use Dvorak
  • Make Mine Dvorak -- An MSN Slate (magazine) editorial.
  • Photograph: August Dvorak and typing class at University of Washington, Seattle (November 14, 1932)
  • Doomtech.net`s guide to learning Dvorak, including instructions on installing both English and Norwegian Dvorak on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Typing tutors with Dvorak support


  • DvorakNG - A free, open-source typing tutor for Linux.
  • Dvorak7min - A free, open-source typing tutor for Linux.
  • TypeFaster - A free, open source typing tutor for Windows.
  • Stamina Typing Tutor 2.5 - Freeware typing tutor for Windows
  • KP Typing Tutor for DOS - Freeware version for MS-DOS
  • KTouch - Another free, open-source typing tutor for Linux. This software is part of the KDE Educational suite.


  • A Basic Course in Dvorak - by Dan Wood
  • A Basic Course in Dvorak (split into individual lessons) - by Dan Wood (split by Jeff Bigler of MIT)
  • A Basic Course in Dvorak (with words per minute timing and accuracy rate) - by Dan Wood (functionality by Ned Friend)
  • An Online Course in Dvorak - You don`t need to change your layout to Dvorak to use this. It`s also available in twenty languages.
  • PowerTyping - Flash-based Online Typing Tutor for Qwerty and Dvorak. Includes typing games.
  • Hebrew Keyboard Tutor - Shows several keyboard layouts -- good for comparing various keyboards

Dvorak tools

  • QWERTY to Dvorak converter - a Java applet that will convert the input in real time and test your typing speed
  • Qwerty to Dvorak Online Converter - a little real-time input converter that works through simple JavaScript
  • Online Qwerty to Dvorak Converter - another javascript tool that includes basic text editing features (IE only)
  • QWERTY to Dvorak converter - Use this to convert already-typed blocks of text
  • Dvorak Assistant - Free Windows utility to toggle Qwerty/Dvorak without administrative access or modifying system settings
    • Quicker Access to Dvorak Assistant - Short, easy-to-remember links that are helpful when using public computers
  • Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator to design one`s own layout
  • Dvorak with Qwerty-based Ctrl Key Support - Dvorak keyboard layout that reverts to QWERTY for Ctrl Key shortcuts, thereby solving some compatibility problems

Comparison to QWERTY

  • Dvorak vs QWERTY Tool - A tool to compare the efficiency of Dvorak, QWERTY and Colemak
  • Qwerty/Dvorak Typing Analyzer - Accepts typed and pasted content.
  • Dvorak and Qwerty Finger Movement Distances - Accepts typed and pasted content
  • Words Possible on Dvorak and Qwerty Home Rows
  • Dvorak vs. Qwerty - A comparison of the two keyboard layouts
  • Barbara Blackburn, the World`s Fastest Typist
  • Peter Klausler ran an evolutionary algorithm with startling results
  • Keyboard Compare Applet for Dvorak and Qwerty Keyboards (on Jon A. Maxwell`s site)


  • The Curse of Qwerty by Jared Diamond provides the traditional story of the history of the typewriter including the claim of superiority of the Dvorak keyboard.
  • The Fable of the Keys - Article by Liebowitz and Margolis questioning the Dvorak keyboard`s superiority.
    • The Fable of the Fable - Web page questioning the credibility of Fable of the Keys.
  • Typing Errors - Article in Reason Magazine by Liebowitz and Margolis alleging evidence against the Dvorak layout`s superiority.
    • Cassingham letter Letter to the editor of Reason Magazine by Randy Cassingham criticizing the claims made by Liebowitz and Margolis.
    • Market failure again an article of Gene Callahan in defense of the free market, stating that the Dvorak-technology was not technologically superior.
  • QWERTY and Path Dependence (EH.Net Economic History encyclopedia)

Foreign language layouts

  • Finnish DAS layout
  • Finnish Matti Airas layout
  • SHIAR.org, Spanish, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Esperanto Dvorak layouts
  • New Zealand/Aotearoa Mori Dvorak layout
  • UK, United States-International, and US One-Hand Latin-9 Dvorak layouts for Windows.
  • A UK Dvorak layout for Mac OS X 10.2 and up.
  • A proposal for a Hebrew optimized layout
  • Hungarian Dvorak layout (offline)
  • Another Hungarian Dvorak layout with installation instructions
  • Thomas Lundqvist`s Swedish Dvorak layout
  • Spanish Dvorak layout Included into the new Linux distributions like dvorak(es). Derived from a normal qwerty keyboard.
  • Dvorak international extended layout Adds dead key support and all characters available in the US-international layout to US-Dvorak without breaking anything.
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What is your attitude towards your work? - By Craig Nathanson


What is your attitude towards your work?

The position you take just might mean the difference between fulfillment and misery!

This is the sixth article in a ten-part series, based on Craig Nathanson`s trademark "Ten P" model for vocational happiness.

By Craig Nathanson

The Vocational Coach?

What is your attitude towards your work?

This is not a trivial question. On a recent trip to teach and speak

in Russia I discovered that one?s culture can influence one?s position or

attitude about their work. For example, in Russia, the pairing of work and joy doesn?t compute. The general feeling there is that one?s work is something that must be done whether one likes it or not. In North America, while there is a growing trend to choose more carefully one?s work, there still are remarkable similar attitudes about work.

Mid-life is the chance to re-adjust your position about your work

Mid-life is the perfect time to change or even recreate a new attitude about your work.

It?s time to discard old non-useful ideas of the past and replace them with more useful ideas.

This is not easy

I should know. Now almost 4 years removed from corporate America, I have had many days and nights wondering what am I doing. Trading a six figure income managing other people in their jobs to now spending my days typing articles like this? Trying to give people new ideas how to discover and do what they love? Spending hour after hour in my private practice discussing with clients the same fears, concerns and yet eager anticipation that I had in recreating one?s work life.

This isn?t a real job I would think. What am I doing while all those OTHER people commute to their real jobs.

Work and Joy do fit together

Having an attitude about your work that you must not only enjoy but love what you do is not just reserved for the privileged in our society. Sure it may be harder to get started for some but just because we all have different starting lines doesn?t mean we can?t join the race to an authentic work life

Are you too comfortable in your job?

Up to age 40 or so, many of us have settled into a comfortable pattern about our work. We don?t necessarily love it or even like it, but it pays the bills and helps build our egos.

Mid-life is a time of attitude adjustment

You can live a more authentic life by starting to change your position about your work.

Is what you do JUST a job to retire from? Or do you want to do activities each and every day which you love and never have to stop until you die?

The only people who retire are people who don?t love what they do. Are you one of them?

You can live a more authentic life but the changes reside in you. If you don?t change your position and direction of your work, then who will?

I am still waiting for the first Human resource benefits package to offer ??Authentic life?? with the 401K program and two weeks vacation but I am not holding my breath!

Will this be hard work??

Changing one?s position or attitude about one?s work will be the hardest thing you have ever done. You will have to defeat external attitudes about work. These attitudes will come from co-workers, bosses, spouses and mother-in laws. Second you may lack the self confidence to stand up for your new attitude.

It all starts with you

Can you think of someone who you have been around who has a great attitude about their work? How can you try on a similar attitude about your work?

Our beliefs about work may have to go

Many of us have beliefs about work which just don?t fit us any longer but we hold on to them like an old familiar coat. Sometimes we forget its hard life we are living and not our fathers or our mother?s or our wife or husband.

What can you do now? Ten steps to get started NOW!!

Expect to find happiness in your work if you are prepared to search for it

Delete old patterns of thoughts and attitudes which are no longer useful for your work

Don?t expect anyone else to change your attitude for you

Do expect lots of resistance from others

Practice daily a new attitude about your work

Discard as quickly as possible negative thoughts about your work. Instead, change your work!

Take a new position that you will no longer settle for unfullfilling and work without meaning in your life

Create an inner awareness that the second half of your life can be authentic, happier and more satisfying

Smile and laugh more in mid-age! Negativity gets defeated this way

Expect to discover and do what you love!

Practice a daily consistent attitude which is the same in the morning and at night. You?ll feel calmer about yourself as a result

More fruit on your cereal

Now over forty, You may have adopted a new diet, a new exercise schedule and maybe your relationships are improving and you might even be sleeping better. What possibly can be even better then this?

Well, recreating a new attitude or position about your work will be like adding fruit on your cereal in the morning. It will put a smile on your face and a bounce to your step.

In mid-life, this might just be what we need the most!

Craig Nathanson is the author of P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day and a coaching expert who works with people in mid-life. Craig?s systematic approach, the trademark "Ten P" model, helps people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig?s online community at www.thevocationalcoach.com where you can sign for a class, private coaching, or group coaching. Or, you may read other stories of mid-life change and renewal.

Craig Nathanson is the author of P Is For Perfect: Your Perfect Vocational Day and a coaching expert who works with people in mid-life. Craig?s systematic approach, the trademark "Ten P" model, helps people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig?s online community at www.thevocationalcoach.com where you can sign for a class, private coaching, or group coaching. Or, you may read other stories of mid-life change and renewal.

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