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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Keyboards | Keyboard Key Groupings ]

Dedicated Cursor Control and Navigation Keys

One of the most important advances of the new 101-key "Enhanced" keyboard created by IBM was the creation of separate, dedicated cursor-control and navigation keys. These had formerly been accessible only by using the numeric keypad. On modern keyboards these important keys are generally placed between the numeric keypad and the main typing area.

The addition of these dedicated keys has been a primary "liberator" of the numeric keypad. Until they were added to the basic keyboard layout, the numeric keypad was normally reserved for cursor-control, because those functions had no other keys, while the numerics could be accessed from the top of the regular typing area. The cursor control and navigation keys are also still also available using the numeric keypad, of course, but this is rarely done today.

This set of keys includes the following:

  • Arrow Keys: These keys permit motion in most software programs in any of the four standard directions that exist in two dimensions: up (north), down (south), left (west) and right (east). In many programs these perform functions similar to those that a mouse does, simulating two-dimensional movement--of course the mouse is much better for this! Some keyboards actually have eight arrow keys; the additional four keys are diagonals that correspond to the "northwest", "northeast", "southwest" and "southeast" directions.
    The relative positioning of the arrow keys is very important; the default arrangement is an "inverted-T" configuration. Some keyboards may use instead a "diamond pattern", with the up arrow key higher; many people can adjust to these. Some notebook keyboards instead put all four arrow keys in a column, which makes them very hard to use by those accustomed to the standard "inverted-T" design.
  • <Insert>: This key (sometimes abbreviated "<Ins>") is used in many programs in one of two ways. Some software uses it in a "one-time" way; for example, it may insert a space in a text area each time it is pressed. Other software uses it as a toggle key, to switch between "insert mode", where all typed characters are automatically inserted, and "replace mode", where typed characters replace those at the text insertion point.
  • <Delete> and <Backspace>: In text-based applications--or in text fields within other applications (for example, a Web browser)--these keys are usually used in conjunction to allow deleting of characters. The standard followed in most software is that the <Delete> key removes a character to the right of the insertion point, and the <Backspace> key removes a character to the left of the insertion point. In other contexts, the <Delete> key may be used to delete or remove any type of object; the <Backspace> key is often used for "go back" functionality.
  • <Page Up> and <Page Down>: These keys (sometimes labeled "PgUp" and "PgDn") are used in software programs primarily for one-dimensional scrolling. For example, to go up or down one page in a spreadsheet program, word-processing document, Web page and so on.
  • <Home> and <End>: The <Home> key is usually used to go to the top of a document, and the <End> key to the bottom of the document. They are used in conjunction with the <Page Up> and <Page Down> keys.

This table contains a full listing of the keys in this section, along with their key numbers and scan codes (I include here only the dedicated navigation keys, not the duplicates that are part of the numeric keypad):

Key #


Make Code

Break Code







E0 52

E0 D2



E0 53

E0 D3


<Left Arrow>

E0 4B




E0 47

E0 C7



E0 4F



<Up Arrow>

E0 48

E0 C8


<Down Arrow>

E0 50

E0 D0


<Page Up>

E0 49

E0 C9


<Page Down>

E0 51

E0 D1


<Right Arrow>

E0 4D

E0 8D

Next: The Numeric Keypad

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