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Comparison between QWERTY and Steno

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What you are used to with QWERTY

What you need to know about Plover


Direct, Single-key input. The letter you press is what you get.

Press the key for what symbol you want to input:

  • letter
  • numbers
  • punctuation
  • white space (tab, carriage return, space, etc)

Translated, Multi-key input. The keys you press will be translated via a dictionary if possible.

Press the keys (note: multiple; see chord) for what you want to input:

  • letter
  • number
  • punctuation
  • white space
  • phoneme/syllable
  • prefix
  • suffix
  • word
  • phrase
  • any combination of the above
  • command (Plover)

It’s “translated” because what the chords output depends on the dictionary you are using.

Keyboard Layout

keys represent letters, numbers, punctuation, or white space

~104 keys

press SHIFT to access more symbols

keys represent phonemes

22 keys

Press * to create additional chord combinations

Hand Positioning

Fingers rest directly on top of keys:

left fingers: on a,s,d,f

left thumb: over space bar

right fingers: on j,k,l,;

right thumb: over space bar

Fingers rest in between keys:

left fingers: between q/a,w/s,e/d,r/f

left thumb: between c/v

right fingers: between u/j, i/k, o/l, p/;

right thumb: between n/m


single letter key presses, one key at a time

multiple keys pressed at the same time. To achieve this, movement will often involve

  • simultaneously pressing down with fingers of both hands
  • using thumbs (unlike in QWERTY where they are only used for spaces)
  • simultaneously pressing down on two adjacent keys with a single finger

Word Spacing

press spacebar, tab, or enter as necessary

  • spaces are put in automatically. Word boundaries need to be taken into account. ‘in’ as in ‘insect’ would be different than ‘in’ as in ‘in here’. Also 'it is a live wire' would be different than 'it is alive'.
  • spaces, tabs, and line returns are now briefs


keyboard is at elbow level

forearms extended

keyboard is lower than elbow level

closer to the body

Error Correction


‘*’ to remove previous stroke