Re: unicode values for keyboard keys?

From: Otto Stolz (
Date: Wed Jul 30 1997 - 16:31:11 EDT

Michael Baldwin asked:
> are there any unicode values defined for the common keys on keyboards:

On Jul 29, 16:15, Kenneth Whistler wrote:
> See the arrows section of the Unicode Standard, [...]
> The problem is that these arrows really only represent their shapes, but
> these shapes are conventionally associated with many of these functions
> on keyboards. [...]
> There is another set of keyboard symbols,

These symbols are far from being uniformly, or conventionally, associated
with particular keyboard functions. E. g., I have two keyboards sitting on my
desktop, one belonging to an X terminal, the other one belonging to a PC.
Though both have the same, German, keyboard layout, the symbols on some
of the function keys differ (cf. list below). Other symbols differ from
the symbols listed by K. W., for US keyboards.

Hence, the UCS characters mentioned by K. W. (and some more characters in
this vein) are only suitable for the documentation of particular keyboards,
but definitely not for the identification of keyboard functions (as probably
implied by M. B.).

Best wishes,
   Otto Stolz

------- Examples for symbols on function keys

Function K.W.'s keyboard my X keyboard my PC keyboard
line feed U+21B4 U+21B5 U+21B5
cursor home U+21B8 "Pos1" "Pos1"
page up U+21DE "Bild" U+2191 "Bild" U+2191
page down U+21DF "Bild" U+2193 "Bild" U+2193
shift U+21E7 U+2191 U+21E7
caps lock U+21EA U+2193 n/a
shift lock n/a n/a U+21E9
enter U+2324 or n/a? "Enter" "Enter"
delete U+2326 "Entf" "Entf"
backspace U+232B U+2190 U+2190
num lock n/a "Num" U+2193 "Num" U+21E9
scroll lock n/a "Rollen" U+2193 "Rollen" U+21E9

The following functions have the same symbol, on all three keybouards:
Function symbol
cursor left U+2190
cursor up U+2191
cursor right U+2192
cursor down U+2193
tab/shift tab U+21B9 (see note)
F1 .. F12 "F1" .. "F12" :-)

- "Tab/shift tab" is actally composed of two symbols, viz. U+21E4 for "tab
  left", and U+21E5 for "tab right". On one of my keyboards, these are com-
  posed into one symbol, U+21B9; on the other keyboard, they are clearly two
  distinct symbols that happen to sit on the same key-cap.
- The function of the Line-Feed key differs; sometimes, it means "Cursor new
  line", sometimes it means "Execute command". Hence, I am not sure whether
  to equate this key, on my keyboards, with "line feed", or rather "carriage
  return", in K. W.'s list.

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