Why Are There Bumps on the F and J Buttons on a Computer Keyboard?

F and J aren't the most important letters in the alphabet, but they might be the most important ones on the keyboard.
F and J aren't the most important letters in the alphabet, but they might be the most important ones on the keyboard. / Tim Graham/Getty Images

Since kids these days learn to operate computer keyboards almost as soon as they learn to read, there’s quite a bit of variation when it comes to typing methods. If you were trained to type in school or with a software program like Mavis Beacon, however, you’re likely familiar with touch-typing—where your eight fingers rest on keys in the “home row” (A, S, D, F, J, K, L, and the semicolon), your thumbs rest on the spacebar, and you don’t look at your QWERTY keyboard at all.

Once their fingers are situated on the correct home-row keys, it’s easy for seasoned touch-typists to tap out an email without glancing down even once. But as any computer user knows, your fingers don’t always stay glued to the keyboard; you might be jumping from Facebook to a news article to a Google doc and then back to your email all within the span of a minute or two. To keep touch-typists from having to look down every time they’re ready to type a few words, many computer manufacturers have added a tiny bump on top of each F and J key. That way, as The Independent explains, you can place your index fingers on the correct keys without looking, and the rest of your fingers will follow suit.

The almost unnoticeable raised dashes on those two keys might be the most unobtrusive way to help typists achieve maximum efficiency, but it’s not the only idea that people have had over the years to accomplish the same thing. In 2002, June E. Botich filed a patent for small plastic attachments that fit on top of all eight home-row keys, so that the user’s fingers “are sort of cradled between the raised edges,” giving them “a tactile sensation indicating where exactly the fingers are placed on the keyboard,” according to the patent application.

While that didn’t catch on among the general public, there are plenty of products available online that let you customize your typing experience. Loc-Dots, for example, are clear stickers with raised bumps that you can peel and place on whichever keys you deem most necessary.

Or, if you prefer to simply look at your keyboard as you type, that’s OK, too—according to one 2016 study, trained touch-typists don’t have as much of an edge as some people assume.

[h/t The Independent]

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