The
Hands Down
Layout
and its discontents

Hands are different, keyboards are different, texts are different.
It is therefore silly to presume that one layout would be perfect for everyone.

Choose the layout that works for you

Each of the Hands Down™ variations excels at a different task, be it English only, mixed languages, coding, etc. Some variations work only on keyboards with dedicated thumb clusters (split ergo or ortho), others can work on any keyboard type. These pages describe just the best 16 of the dozens of layouts I designed. I tested every variation mentioned in real-world, real-time settings for at least a week. Some, like the Hands Down™ Alt variations, have been used to write significant academic papers.

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The above heat maps are with my own 1.3M test corpus of 80% English, 10% Japanese, 10% "Proglish." Your own experience will likely be at least a bit different. Slight variations in the JSON files and descriptions may exist. My own implementations are slightly different, as well, mostly due to differences in the way layers are handled. Use these as a guide to your own implementation. (This images may be a bit out of date . See the individual variations' sections for the most up-to-date info.)
These layouts put a letter or other glyph on a thumb, and therefore require a keyboard with dedicated thumb keys.

Type with previously inconceivable comfort
with Home Row Modifiers and
Combos, Adaptive Keys, Semantic Keys, Linger Keys

All of my own implementations
make heavy use of smart keyboard features.

  • Home Row Modifiers: All Hands Down variations were designed from the outset with Home Row modifiers in mind. Modifiers, after all, are keys that are pressed (and often held) a lot, and that has a profound impact on the stresses and demands a keyboard makes on the hand and finger's joints. See my earlier comments about home row modifiers here.

  • Combos: Two or more keys pressed together eliminate finger twisting for shortcuts. My Hands Down implementations have around 90 combos, making my tiny 36 key keyboard faster and easier than any keyboard with more keys.

    • Functions such as Cut, Copy, Paste, Select All, Quit, Close are at faster and easier than on a traditional keyboard.

    • Common H digraphs (TH, CH, SH, PH, GH, WH), are all quick combos that respect shift and caps lock states (Shift will capitalize the first letter, caps lock will capitalize all), reducing keystrokes. Technically, while the number of keys pressed is the same, they are all neighbors, so they occur in one motion of one or two fingers, so it reduces the number of keystroke cycles, not keys pressed, making a more syllabic typing rhythm.

    • Enter entire equations, currency, or time spans on the number layer 10-Key with one hand. ():~$¢€¥£% plus excel navigation.

    • Quickly enter characters with diacritics, like åéûōç & ðþ for easy working in multiple European languages.

    • See my earlier comments about combos (a.k.a. chording) here.

  • Adaptive Keys: Alter the characters sent based on the speed and sequence of keys typed to eliminate awkward fingering sequences, especially row jumps. Hands Down's phonotactics based layout make these easy to remember, leveraging established muscle memory.FM becomes Fl, PM is Pl, and dozens more of these statistically derived sequences increase comfort and speed. Adaptive Keys also respect shift and caps lock states.

  • Linger Keys: Holding a linger key for just a bit triggers additional functionality. The most common is holding Q just a tad longer to get QU (hold with shift for Qu, capsLk for QU). Linger on paired symbols (, {, [, ", to get its mate ", ], }, ). Linger Key can be triggered by any keystroke or combo, like my combo for Japan to get Japanese, or my combo for there lingered is there's , and so on.

  • Semantic Keys: Runtime platform independence is fully realized with Semantic Keys that send the appropriate keystroke(s) to the host platform. Navigation shortcuts, (Word left/right, browser back/fwd), are the same keystrokes, regardless of platform. From Undo, Copy, Find, Quit, and ScreenCapture, even typing special characters or § are always the same keystrokes, whether via regular keypress, combo, or even as the result of Adaptive Keys. Switch platforms on the fly, and the keyboard will remember the last platform used.

Hands Down Gold (Neu-tx)0.784% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 T on thumb for exceptional efficiency and exceptionally low SFBs in a very well rounded layout.
🇯🇵 比類ない効率的なローマ字入力

jz f m p v ;: .& /* "? '!
r
s n d w ,| a e i h
x g l c b -+ u o y kq
t

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

5.0 7.8 10.4 10.1 9.7 ƒ(%) 19.7 11.2 14.8 6.9 4.4
4
3.1 L R 56.9
2.7 8.2 12.7 17.6 9.0 d(%) 10.1 14.6 16.4 5.3 3.3
50.3 L R 49.7

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.000 0.079 0.143 0.045 sfb(%) 0.296 0.123 0.064 0.034
Total 0.784%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Hands Down Gold is everything I've learned in one smart layout
designed to be exceptionally efficient, intuitive, and comfortable.

Hands Down Gold combines the rolling efficiencies of Hands Down Alt on the left and Hands Down Élan & Reference on the right, for a careful balance between hand alternation and same hand rolling. The result is an uncompromising layout that is comfortable even after long days of typing, and may even be better than the sum of its parts.

  • Hands Down Home Block: Obsessive attention on finger movement in the "Home Block" reduces fatigue during long typing sessions. (3x3 block of keys on each hand under index, middle, ring, plus resting position of pinkies & thumbs = 22 keys of the Hands Down Home Block). Careful balance of usage frequency vs SFB & distance & neighbors delivers exceptionally even typing rhythm. (ex. dextrous right index has the highest SFBs, but has correspondingly lower usage frequency and distance covered.) Hands Down Gold has among the lowest total finger movement of any layout–only Hands Down Dash is lower.

  • Same-Finger Bigrams (SFBs) are exceptionally low, ensuring that your fingers are not abused trying to hit too many letters in a row with the same finger. This is the single most important component of a good layout, and something that QWERTY fails at miserably. Hands Down Gold has among the lowest of any layout (1/2 that of Colemak), 87% fewer than QWERTY, and fewer than any other Hands Down variation except Hands Down Platinum.

  • Inward rolls. Wherever possible, neighbor finger bigrams are organized to make typing as easy as rapping fingers on a table. High frequency consonant bigrams are optimized: ND, SN, RS, SL, LD, GL, (FL via adaptive M). High frequency vowel bigrams IO, OU, EA, IE, OA, are all inward rolls. Most of the opposite direction outward rolling bigrams occur much less frequently. This applies also to many "disjoint neighbor bigrams" like SH, GH, IA, etc. Hands Down Gold has nearly as many comfortable inward rolls as Hands Down Bronze, and more than most other layouts.

  • Adaptive keys could benefit any layout; with Hands Down Gold, they improve the already great rolling and finger motion (all stats cited do not even consider the value of adaptive keys). Quickly rolling adjacent keys sends the statistically more frequent sequence. Type just a fraction slower than fast rolling and you'll get the regular letters just as you would expect. It's uncanny how low the error rate is low when carefully considered.

    • FM produces FL.

    • PM yields PL, PV yields LV.
      M & L use the same middle finger, so this motion leverages existing muscle memory to avoid the awkward row jump entirely. Now, GL and FL, roll just as easily, with nothing new to remember.

    • BC yields BL,CB yields LB. Middle column keys pull the hand away from the home block, so this eliminates the awkward "split-neighbor bigram" that would spread the index and middle fingers apart.

    • MV yields MB (M&B should be on the same row, or one row apart. With adaptive keys, this awkward row jump is eliminated).

    • Together, these adaptive keys produce some surprisingly comfortable outcomes. Type MPM, for example, or MVM, and you might stumble upon some slick keystrokes!

  • Combos gives speedy access to less common letters that have been eXtracted from the main layout (like the Alt-x layouts), yet they remain easily available in predictable locations with comfortable combos, and the stats were analyzed with the impact to each finger properly considered.

    • FM for Z,
      UK for Q.
      I find these to be very natural positions for these lesser used letters, with negligible SFBs. Hold the Q combo just it a tad longer to get QU (hold with shift for Qu, capsLk for QU), which leaves the ring and middle fingers hovering over the most likely next characters, E & I, meaning QU becomes super efficient, all while taking up no space at all on the keyboard. QU is so ridiquelessly easy now that you don't need to design a whole layout around these low frequency letters: ThinQu.

    • Common H digraphs (TH, CH, SH, PH, GH, WH) are realized with combos (DN, CL, SN, PM, GL, WD).

  • Stretch or curl? Your keyboard, finger lengths, and other factors can influence how you type. Top row preference started with QWERTY in an attempt to keep fingers closer to the number row, but if you use an embedded num layer like I do, this is no longer a factor. I find it more comfortable to curl my fingers but if you prefer to reach, especially if you have longer finger:palm length ratio than average, you can swap the top and bottom rows on the right hand. The left hand doesn't benefit as much from a row swap, but if you choose to do so, I strongly recommend that you swap the whole row (or at least the three keys in the home block). The comfortable rolls are the product of these neighbor-finger relationships. The four (or ten) keys outside the home block are less sensitive and could be swapped in top-bottom pairs, but all were thoroughly evaluated for these specific positions while developing all Hands Down variations. (There is research that suggests that curled fingers and floating hands is better than typing with fingers extended while resting on wrist pads.)
    More easter eggs? I
    f the N on thumb option is used, there is solid justification for keeping the the left-hand rows as presented, because the NG bigram would be too far of a stretch to go from thumb to top row on the ring finger. Adaptive M (being L when fast rolling from F or K) and adaptive V (being B when immediately following M) completely neutralizes the negatives of having F near L on the bottom row (FL bigrams are more common than GL), so no performance whatsoever is lost in the proposed arrangement. A "linger key" for C solves the problem of moving K to the same finger.

  • From Hands Down Élan, punctuation is considered alongside alpha keys, meaning that even punctuation is easily accessible. All glyphs are statistically considered, and standard key bindings ignored, to improve speed or to lower cognitive load (i.e. makes more sense…). This arrangement lends itself to extension for efficient coding workflows.

    • Shift - = +; / = *; " = ?; ' = !; . = &; , = |

    • Shift ( = {; < = ; Alt ( = [

  • 🇯🇵 は日本語入力方式では使用されていないため、日本語IMEでにマッピングするだけで日本語と英語の両方で比類のない効率が得られます。(IMEでそのような再マッピング機能がある場合。私はATOK使用)

  • Keycaps: See my updated list of sculpted keycaps that support most if not all Hands Down variations.

  • Stats tweaks, like swapping U<->O, ,<->., (and X<->J on Hands Down Élan & Neu), can each yield even better results on some analyzers. I tried each of them for a while, and found the motions less comfortable or intuitive. Many nice rolls are lost, or "through hand stretches" (like excite) were not captured by analyzers, all for very little gain. Hands Down was built by hands for hands (not for analyzers), and tested on hands (not just machines), for long duration typing comfort (not for short bursts of speed), and what is presented is the closest I can get to what I'm actually using. The analyzers can't handle advanced features like home row mods, combos, and adaptive keys, all features that further enhance the typing experience.

  • Achilles Heel: HE & HI, (pinky) THE


※These stats are from klanext.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats approximated from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. Since this tool does not account for thumbs or non-standard shift binding, the differences between several tests were used to extract individual SFB scores.
‡Only exceptions to std mapping are shown. Differences may exist in the KLA jsons, to approximate actual behavior on the KLAs.

Hands Down Platinum (Neu-lx)— 0.764% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 L on thumb and C with vowels for the lowest SFBs of any Hands Down variation.

jz g h pq v ;: .& /* '? "!
r
s n t b ,| a e c i
x
f m d k -+ u o w y
l

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

5.0 7.9 10.9 13.6 6.3 ƒ(%) 19.6 11.2 14.6 4.0 6.9
43.
7 L R 56.3
2.6 8.1 14.0 18.2 7.8 d(%) 9.9 14.3 15.7 4.4 5.2
50.5 L R 49.5

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.000 0.079 0.050 0.119 sfb(%) 0.296 0.122 0.084 0.064
Total 0.764%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Hands Down Platinum is the rarest of layouts,
with stunningly low SFBs, yet still eminently usable.
A different KLA, a different corpus, and the results might be different.

  • Hands Down Platinum and Silver are obviously twins. You can tell them apart by their thumbs. Platinum prefers to exchange a bit extra distance for lowers SFB, whereas Silver would rather keep the delicate balance of distance, SFBs that distribute burden more evenly. You could consider Platinum to be Silver that has gone the extra mile to polish out any remaining SFBs. Hands Down Platinum has among the lowest of any layout (less than 1/2 that of Colemak), 88% fewer than QWERTY, and fewer than any other Hands Down variation.

  • Adaptive keys, Semantic Keys, and Linger Keys from Hands Down Gold.

  • Combos:

    • Common H digraphs (TH, CH, SH, PH, GH, WH), are all quick combos that respect shift and caps lock states, reducing keystrokes. Note that H rarely precedes these letters.

  • Adaptive Keys: GM becomes Gl, PM is Pl, and dozens more of these statistically derived sequences increase comfort and speed. Adaptive Keys also respect shift and caps lock states.

  • Achilles Heel: ICEY - Solved with recent revision


※These stats are from klanext.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats approximated from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. Since this tool does not account for thumbs or non-standard shift binding, the differences between several tests were used to extract individual SFB scores.
‡Only exceptions to std mapping are shown. Differences may exist in the KLA jsons, to approximate actual behavior on the KLAs.

Hands Down Silver (Neu-nx)— 0.827% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 N on thumb and C with vowels yields a carefully balanced typing rhythm.
🇯🇵 「波乱巣」のいいローマ字入力

jz f m pq v ;: .& /* '? "!
r
s h t b ,| a e c i
x
g l d k -+ u o w y
n

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

5.0
7.9 8.7 13.5 8.5 ƒ(%) 19.5 11.1 14.8 4.0 6.8
43.6
L R 56.4
2.6 8.1 12.0 18.2 8.8 d(%) 9.5 14.5 16.3 4.5 5.3
49.9
L R 50.1

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.000 0.079 0.063 0.119 sfb(%) 0.296 0.122 0.084 0.064
Total 0.827%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Just as with the Olympics, the difference between
Gold, Silver and Bronze can be statistically very small.
A different KLA, a different corpus, and the results might be different.

  • Hands Down Platinum and Silver are obviously twins. You can tell them apart by their thumbs. Platinum prefers to exchange a bit extra distance for lowers SFB, whereas Silver would rather keep the delicate balance of distance, SFBs that distribute burden more evenly. You could consider Platinum to be Silver that has gone the extra mile to polish out any remaining SFBs.

  • Combos, Adaptive keys, Semantic Keys, and Linger Keys from Hands Down Gold.

  • Achilles Heel: ICEY - Solved with recent revision


※These stats are from klanext.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats approximated from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. Since this tool does not account for thumbs or non-standard shift binding, the differences between several tests were used to extract individual SFB scores.
‡Only exceptions to std mapping are shown. Differences may exist in the KLA jsons, to approximate actual behavior on the KLAs.

Hands Down Bronze (Neu-hx)— 0.905% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 H on thumb for the highest rolling quotient of any Hands Down variation.
🇯🇵 非常に快適なローマ字入力

jz f m pq v ;: .& /* '? "!
r
s n t b ,| a e c i
x
g l d k -+ u o w y
h

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

5.0
7.9 10.4 13.5 6.7 ƒ(%) 19.5 11.1 14.8 4.0 6.8
43.6
L R 56.4
2.6 8.2 12.7 18.2 8.1 d(%) 9.5 14.5 16.3 4.5 5.3
49.9 L R 50.1

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.000 0.079 0.142 0.119 sfb(%) 0.296 0.122 0.084 0.064
Total 0.905%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Just as with the Olympics, the difference between
Gold, Silver and Bronze can be statistically very small.
A different KLA, a different corpus, and the results might be different.

  • Roll on in to home! The highest Inward rolls quotient of any Hands Down variation. (Only English has been evaluated.)

  • Combos, Adaptive keys, Semantic Keys, and Linger Keys from Hands Down Gold.

  • Achilles Heel: ICEY - Solved with recent revision


※These stats are from klanext.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats approximated from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. Since this tool does not account for thumbs or non-standard shift binding, the differences between several tests were used to extract individual SFB scores.
‡Only exceptions to std mapping are shown. Differences may exist in the KLA jsons, to approximate actual behavior on the KLAs.

Hands Down Neu 0.954% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 High performance that can be deployed on any keyboard type.

w f m p v / . q " ' z

r s n t g , a e i h j

x c l d b - u o y k

Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky
6.2 8.8 10.5 14.6 5.1 ƒ(%) 17.5 11.0 14.7 6.6 4.8
4
5.3 L R 54.7
5.3 10.2 13.3 20.8 4.2 d(%) 6.3 14.3 16.4 4.9 4.4
5
3.7 L R 46.3

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.047 0.120 0.142 0.152 sfb(%) 0.287 0.109 0.053 0.045
Total 0.954%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

(native OS support for Hands Down Neu is in the Hands Down layout OS bundle here)

Hands Down Neu is the new Reference that takes cues from Alt, Élan, and the Hands Down Medtals. Hands Down Neu may be preferable for those using thumb shift or other layer functions instead of home-row mods or traditional ansi/iso/jis keyboards. It does not assume a smart, programmable keyboard to handle the many other features like adaptive keys and combos, although all of those advanced features can be implemented with Hands Down Neu.

  • Combos, Adaptive keys, Semantic Keys, and Linger Keys from Hands Down Gold.

  • Combos

    • KU for Q + K
      I would heartily recommend removing
      Q and make it available via UK combo, and hold just it a tad longer to get QU (hold with shift for Qu, capsLk for QU), meaning QU becomes super efficient, all while taking up no space at all on the keyboard. QU is so ridiquelessly easy now that you don't need to design a whole layout around these low frequency letters: ThinQu. Use that space for another more frequently used symbol, like ;, #, or _, or whatever you find yourself typing a lot.

  • Adaptive keys

    • Q. produces QU. Since Q basically never ends a word in English, this is an easy, fluid adaptive sequence with virtually no errors.

  • Linger Keys

    • Or just linger on Q to get Qu.


※These stats are from kla.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. go ahead and copy the layout above and paste it into the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool to see for yourself, and compare with other layouts. This tool does not handle thumbs, so these stats should be viewed with appropriate skepticism.

Hands Down Élan (Neu-dot)1.01% SFBs

🇺🇸🇬🇧🇨🇦🇳🇿 Punctuation on thumb offers fast access to other symbols, and a layout that is equally graceful with prose and code.

vz g h p kq /* (< {[ '! "?

r s n t f j a e c i

x m l d b -+ u o w y

,; .:

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

6.3
8.3 10.4 15.0 4.2 ƒ(%) 18.7 9.2 15.6 5.2 7.0
44.3
L R 55.7
5.4 9.5 12.5 20.7 5.1 d(%) 11.6 9.5 16.4 3.7 5.5
53.3
L R 46.6

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.049 0.148 0.113 0.141 sfb(%) 0.407 0.082 0.026 0.039
Total 1.01%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Hands Down Élan puts word delimiters on thumbs (like ), with all symbols considered alongside letters, producing a layout that is as graceful with prose as it is code. Fully utilizing the untyped capacity of the other thumbs can be a logistical or cognitive challenge. Since word delimiters don't break up a word like letters do, and are lower frequency, it may have a more natural flow in conjunction with multi-function keys on the thumbs to handle Shift/Layers. (Hands Down Élan was the design platform for the Hands Down Neu/Medtals variations)

  • Combos gives speedy access to less common letters that have been eXtracted from the main layout (like the Alt-x layouts), yet they remain easily available in predictable locations with comfortable combos, and the stats were analyzed with the impact to each finger properly considered.

    • VG for Z,
      PK for Q. (or YU)

    • Common H digraphs (TH, CH, SH, PH, GH, WH) are realized with combos (TN, CE, SN, PH, GH, WO).

    • For more programming flexibility, J as a combo on YW works well to free up another spot for symbols.

  • Adaptive keys: Quickly rolling gives alternate characters.

    • GP produces MP.

    • PH yields PL, GH yields GL.

  • Linger Keys: Linger on paired symbols (, {, [, ", to get its mate ", ], }, ). (or hold alt to get the mate.)


※These stats are from kla.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. go ahead and copy the layout above and paste it into the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool to see for yourself, and compare with other layouts. This tool does not handle thumbs, so these stats should be viewed with appropriate skepticism.

Hands Down Dash (Neu-ex)— 1.17% SFBs

🏁 E on thumb yields the lowest total finger movement of any Hands Down variation.

jz g m pq v ;: .& '! "? /*
r
s n t w ,| h a o i
x
c l d b -+ f u k y
e

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

4.9
8.5 10.4 14.3 12.0 ƒ(%) 19.8 8.6 8.9 6.1 6.6
45.1
L R 54.9
2.7 9.9 13.3 20.7 10.4 d(%) 10.2 13.6 10.1 4.0 4.9
57.1
L R 42.9

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.000 0.165 0.141 0.208 sfb(%) 0.224 0.222 0.157 0.054
Total 1.17%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

Sprinter's Layout! The lowest distance traveled of any Hands Down variation.


The left index finger has a disproportionate percentage of the total movement.

  • Maintains most of the rolling habit from Hands Down Bronze.

  • Adaptive keys and Combos from Hands Down Gold.

  • Achilles Heel: The Wiccan Jr.


※These stats are from klanext.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.Same-finger bigram stats approximated from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. Since this tool does not account for thumbs or non-standard shift binding, the differences between several tests were used to extract individual SFB scores.
‡Only exceptions to std mapping are shown. Differences may exist in the KLA jsons, to approximate actual behavior on the KLAs.

the Hands Down Reference Layout 0.880% SFBs

Where Hands Down design began, and frequently returns. click for details

q c h p v k y o j /

r s n t g w u e i a

x m l d b z f ' , .

Finger/Hand Usage(ƒ) & distance(d) distribution
Pnky Ring Mid Index Thumb Thumb Index Mid Ring Pnky

5.0
8.1 12.8 15.4 3.2 ƒ(%) 17.7 8.5 16.5 6.2 6.6
44.5
L R 55.5
2.4 8.4 16.7 20.2 3.9 d(%) 8.5 15.6 17.1 4.0 3.2
51.5
L R 48.5

Same-finger bigrams%†
0.003 0.231 0.113 0.153 sfb(%) 0.173 0.172 0.021 0.014
Total 0.880%
cf. QWERTY 6.6%, Halmak 2.8%, Dvorak 2.6%, Colemak 1.7%, MTGAP 1.3%

(native OS support for Hands Down Reference is in the Hands Down layout OS bundle here)

Rolling comfort: A balance of hand alternation and same-hand rolls, mostly inward on neighbor fingers, rarely requiring reaches across the hand or jumping rows.

  • Hands Down Reference has less than 1/7 the SFBs of QWERTY. That's 86% fewer times the same finger will need to hit two different keys in a row. This is unquestionably the single most important measure in any keyboard layout, and Hands Down Reference is among the very lowest. Low SFBs are a major factor in typing speed and fatigue (though there are many other important factors).

  • Comfortable inward rolls. Following Dvorak/MTGAP design wisdom, the most common bigram problems are solved by placing vowels and consonants on separate hands. But where consonant clusters or vowel blends do occur, every effort is made to make them be comfortable inward rolling motions. On the consonant hand, SH, ST, RS, NT, NG, CT, CH, SH, BL, LD, (CL, via combos,). Most of the opposite direction bigrams occur less frequently. While TH is much more common than HT, index-middle finger outward rolling is almost as easy. The vowel hand is optimized for E and the most common vowel bigram, OU. While other vowel bigrams roll outward, the net impact is less than OU. The least common vowel bigrams involve A, so it resides on the pinky that has little else to do.

  • Hands Down has remarkably few top<->bottom row jumps, but even one is awkward, especially for neighbor fingers. My instance of Hands Down avoids most uncomfortable row jumps altogether with combos: on the left hand, CH produces CL, (and HP yields PL).

  • Whither ZXCV? Combos handle these, in the same place as QWERTY=almost no learning curve. x+m=Undo, x+l=Cut, m+l=Copy, l+d=Paste, m+d=Paste Match, x+d=Select All

  • 🇯🇵 I swap K<->Y Since K is the second most frequent consonant in Japanese (after N). The negative impact to English is minimal, but the gain in Japanese is great.

  • Keycaps: Many alternate "Colevrak" keycap sets have keys for Hands Down Reference positions.

Make your layout fit your typing needs

Consider this Hands Down Reference layout a reasonable place to start with your own customized layout. In the spirit of excellent advice a wise Dvorak user gave me on Reddit, instead of starting from broken QWERTY and see what is gained by moving things around, try starting from Hands Down Reference layout, and see what is lost, as you gain customized comfort. Check out Hands Down variations below for many ways you can tailor the layout to fit you.

Hands Down Polyglot is a new variation in the early stages of development aiming to bring Hands Down efficiencies to those who regularly type in multiple languages.


※These stats are from kla.keyboard-design.com. Use the JSON files on the download page to see how it preforms with your own sample texts.†Same-finger bigram stats from the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool, with default settings. go ahead and copy the layout above and paste it into the Colemak-DH Layout Analysis Tool to see for yourself, and compare with other layouts.

Hands Down Bronze (Neu-hx)
Kyria with MT3 Susuwatari keycaps