Introduction to keyboards

Dead keys

Some languages require more characters to be entered than there are keys available on the keyboard. When only accented characters are required, a dead key can be used. The dead keys are shown on the French keyboard in Figure 2 with a square gray box below the accent mark. To enter a dead key you first type the accent and then the base character. For instance, to type an e circumflex (ê) you would first press the circumflex dead key, and then press the e key. This is the opposite of Unicode composition where the base character is given first and then the modifier. Most keyboards do not have any engraved indicator that the key is a dead key.