Accents: AZERTY or QWERTY: is it worth changing keyboard?
Thread poster: Luna Jungblut

Luna Jungblut  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Dec 9, 2014

"Accents: AZERTY or QWERTY: is it worth changing keyboard?"

Dear ProZ family,

I am a young freelance translator, getting there slowly but surely =)
I have been reading a lot on the forums, and on the website in general, and it has helped
me a tremendous lot. So thank you!!
I will be becoming a member in the very near future!

This is my first post (of many I hope!!),

I turn to you for a strictly technical and practical question, because only established translators could answer.

I have been using a QWERTY keyboard for a good couple of years, and had to get used to the lengthy process of adding accents (I work into French).
Now though, I am going to buy a PC in order to run Trados Studio and I got very excited about getting the French AZERTY keyboard, since I have a choice!

This means I will be using a QWERTY keyboard as well as an AZERTY keyboard on a daily basis. Is this madness for brain/fingers memory? Is this going to confuse rather than help me?

Thank you very much,
Luna Jungblut


Tony M
Local time: 21:30
French to English
+ ...
AZERTY Dec 10, 2014

Welcome to the profession, and to!

I translate from FR into EN, so for many years I continued working with my original QWERTY keyboard; I didn't find mastering the accent codes much of a problem, and pretty soon had most of them off by heart, with a 'crib sheet' to remind me of the less frequently used ones.

For a period of time, I even worked across 3 computers, 2 with QWERTY and one with AZERTY keyboards — I found it easy enough to swap between them — but then I'm not a touch typist anyway!

The biggest hassle for me was when I got a laptop, as the embedded 'virtual' number pad makes it really diffficult to use the Alt + Num accent codes! I bought an external USB numeric pad, but unfortunately, this didn't work for the accent codesicon_frown.gif In the end, I had to resort to buying an external keyboard.

However, even though most of my work is in EN, all my private paperwork, business correspondence, etc. is in FR, and I soon found it much easier to work with an AZERTY keyboard, which I now do exclusively all the time.

There are some drawbacks; I find the ergonomics of an AZERTY keyboard tiresome — in particular, the fact that you can't type a full stop without using the shift key, making typing silly little things like e.g. much more fiddly than with a QWERTY; and the fact that the 'normal' 'top-row' figures need the shift key is also a bit of a bind.

Do also be aware that the AZERTY keyboard only has the commonest FR diacritics directly on it; some others require a 2-key process, and still others are simply not available directly, so I still find myself quite often resorting to the Alt + Num solution; this applies to œ and all the upper-case accented characters, for example.

But despite those drawbacks, I still find it generally worthwhile overall, and I would suggest it will be more useful still in your particular instance.

Note that although other key-mapping solutions do exist, I have not yet found one that was totally comprehensive enough for me to relinquish myAZERTY keyboard!


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:30
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Install alternative keyboard Dec 10, 2014

My pair is Russian-English, so I need Cyrillic and Latin keyboards, but I only have one actual physical keyboard. Under "Regions & Languages" in Control Panel you can install one or more additional keyboards. Apart from Cyrillic and Latin, I have also installed Greek, German, French, Spanish and Swedish, because I find switching to them is useful for including non-standard characters, those with accents and others, in an English text on the Web.
I have made out copies of each keyboard in Word and printed them out for reference. The more you use them, the less you need to refer to the paper copy. I never need it for Cyrillic now.
Here is my French keyboard:

[Edited at 2014-12-10 08:10 GMT]


nrichy (X)
Local time: 21:30
French to Dutch
+ ...
Buy an AZERTY keyboard Dec 10, 2014

I am a very fast typist, I learnt typing at age 14 on a QUERTY keyboard and for some time switched between keyboards but kept making errors with z and w (the less used letters).
There is only one solution, buy an AZERTY keyboard and always work on it.
You can type English on an AZERTY keyboard without any problem.
Set the PC settings on French and delete US and international settings.
The first time, it takes about 3 days to make the switch.


Terry Richards
Local time: 21:30
French to English
+ ...
That explains it... Dec 10, 2014

Tony M wrote:

...the fact that you can't type a full stop without using the shift key...

That explains all those French 150 word sentences icon_smile.gif


Jean-Pierre Artigau (X)
Local time: 15:30
English to French
+ ...
The Canadian solution Dec 10, 2014


Here in Canada we have QWERTY keyboards where all the accented letter are easily available. This could be the solution for you (and other English-French translators).



Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:30
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Multiple keyboards installed Dec 10, 2014

I've done the same as Jack, and have French, German and Swedish installed in Windows - easy to switch just by clicking the language bar.

I find my fingers remember the layout of the French keyboard if I am writing French, and the Swedish when I am writing Swedish, but I have visual representations easily accessible on my computer desktop just for reference.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:30
Member (2008)
French to English
International Dec 10, 2014

I have the English and the English (International) keyboards installed, the latter for use with diacritics. It can be switched by just clicking Windows Key + Spacebar, no need to leave the keyboard.


wotswot  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:30
Member (2011)
French to English
My two cents...full stop...euro symbol Dec 11, 2014

I've been using an AZERTY keyboard since I learnt to type here in France (in my previous career as a computer programmer).

You can easily type the full stop without shift on the numeric keypad (and the slash, asterisk, plus and minus signs), provided NumLock is on (I can't imagine why it wouldn't be).

I'd be interested to know where the Euro symbol is on a QWERTY keyboard! On an AZERTY keyboard it's on the E key (requires AltGr), which when worn out tells me I have to replace my keyboard (every nine months on average)!



Luna Jungblut  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
I got used to using the 2 Jan 22, 2015

Hello communityicon_smile.gif

I would like to thank you all for your answers.
They were all very interesting.

Indeed I feel like the Canadian keyboard is just a perfect mix of the two for our combination!!

Since my post, and after reading your comments, I bought the PC with the French keyboard and I got used to it very easily.

I switch between my computer with the QWERTY keyboard and the one with an AZERTY quite easily, actually!

I make mistakes sometimes but I am delighted to have my accents back, I find it much easier!

Thank you all for your help,


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Accents: AZERTY or QWERTY: is it worth changing keyboard?

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