Have you ever stared at a selection of keyboards and wondered which one would be best for writing? Unless you’re one of those solely pen-and-paper writers, we writer-folk tend to spend a fair amount of time with our computer keyboards. When selecting a keyboard, though, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the many types of keyboards available.

This post overviews the two main types of keyboards: membrane and mechanical, then breaks them down into their various types. So, next time you’re contemplating whether you want a scissor-switch or a blue switch, you’ll know exactly what that means.

Table of Contents

Membrane Keyboards vs. Mechanical Keyboards

Membrane keyboards tend to be more affordable than mechanical keyboards. They tend to have low profile keys and are fairly quiet for typing. They are made with a rubber sheet (membrane) between the keys and the electrical switches beneath the keys.

Mechanical keyboards are often used for gaming. They tend to have higher profile keys (although there are some low profile ones on the market too!)

Some general defintions to get out of the way for this post:

  • a switch is a name for a keyboard key.
  • low profile or high profile refers to how far the keys stick up on the keyboard.

Membrane Keyboards

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Dome Switch

Dome switches can be made of rubber or metal. In either of these cases, there is a metal dome beneath the key that compresses when the key is pushed, providing some tactile feedback. Dome switches (particularly rubber dome) are the most common type of keyboard.

Daniel beardsmore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Scissor-switch keyboards are commonly used in laptops. They have low profile keys and are a type of rubber dome keyboard, but they feature an interlocking mechanism of two crossed plastic arms under each key.

Scissor SwitchUser:Daniel beardsmore / CC0, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Chiclet or Island Style

Chiclet keyboards are a subcategory of scissor-switch keyboards. In a chiclet style keyboard, the keys are separated and are usually square or rectangular with flat sides. These were named chiclet keyboards due to the similarity of the appearance of the keys to Chiclet’s gum.

1924 Chiclets Ad Image Source: Adams, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Capacitive keyboards have capacitor pads that deliver an electrical signal when a key is pressed. They register touch very quickly and are suitable for very fast typing.

snuci, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mechanical Keyboards

Linear (Red or Black)

Daniel beardsmore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Linear switches are the quietest option for mechanical keyboards. They don’t have the bump that causes the tactile feedback or an audible click.

Tactile (Brown or Clear)

Daniel beardsmore, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Tactile switches are for those typists who want the tactile feedback from pressing the keys without the loud clicking noises of the clicky switches.

Clicky (Blue or Green)

Fletcher, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Clicky switches have the most tactile and auditory feedback of the mechanical keyboards. They come in two types: click bar, and click jacket.

Click Bar

Click bar switches produce a double click, on actuation and release.

Click Jacket

Click jacket switches produce only one click, on actuation and none on release

So what does all this mean?

There are a lot of different types of keyboards out there. Some people love the clicky mechanical keyboards while others love the softer touch of a scissor switch.

Personally, I love hearing the click-click-click as I’m typing. I wrote this on a mechanical keyboard with blue click bar switches.

Experiment and see what works for you!

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