What Is Return Button on Keyboard

The Return button on your keyboard, often labeled as the Enter key, is crucial for various tasks. You use it to move the cursor to a new line while typing or to submit information in forms and applications. Located on the third row of most keyboards, its design and placement can vary slightly depending on the type of keyboard—ANSI, ISO, or JIS. Historically, this key traces back to typewriters and has evolved to suit modern computing needs. Understanding its functions and variations can greatly enhance your interaction with different software and devices. There's even more to learn about how this key integrates into your daily computer use.

Understanding the Return Key

The Return key, often referred to as the Enter key, lets you move the cursor to a new line and hand control back to the program. Situated on your keyboard, this key is essential in both traditional typing and modern computer usage. Whether you're crafting a document in a word processing application or entering data across various fields, the functionality of the Return key streamlines your interactions with different software environments.

Its role extends beyond merely jumping the cursor to a new line; it serves as a critical interface between you and your operating system or application. When you press the Return key, you're not just moving the cursor but also signaling the computer to execute a command or confirm an entry. This utility is evident in everything from simple text editing to complex programming environments where each keystroke can trigger specific actions.

Understanding how the Return key works on your keyboard helps you better manage the flow of your work and improves your efficiency. Each press is a step in your ongoing interaction with digital tools, reinforcing its importance in today's technology-driven world.

Functions of the Return Key

Often, you'll use the Return key to swiftly insert a new line or execute a command in various applications. Acting as a multi-functional tool, the Return key, also known as the Enter key, is important in guiding and controlling text or data input efficiently. When you're typing in a word processor and need to start a paragraph or break a line, hitting the Return key inserts a hard return, effortlessly creating new lines where you need them. This key doesn't just help in formatting text; it also enhances your control over the cursor.

Moreover, in forms or databases, the Return key enables you to shift the cursor from one input field to another smoothly. This change is essential for efficient data entry and ensures that your workflow isn't interrupted. The symbolized arrow, often representing the Return key in technical documentation, serves as a guide to indicate the start of a new action or line, aiding in better structuring and understanding of the instructions or content you're working with.

Location on Different Keyboards

Depending on your keyboard's design, you'll find the return key in various locations. On ANSI keyboards, it's typically wider and located on the third row, making it easy for you to access as you type. If you're using a keyboard with a numeric keypad, the Enter key, which often doubles as a carriage return, is on the right side of this pad. This layout is standard on many modern computers, providing a consistent user experience.

In contrast, ISO and JIS keyboards place the return key just below the backslash key, a location that might require a bit of adjustment if you're accustomed to ANSI layouts. Some of these keyboards also feature a double-height return key, which integrates the backslash key into its design. This unique feature is more prevalent in keyboards from Asia, particularly in Russia and Korea, where it helps accommodate specific typing preferences and language inputs.

Understanding the location and design of your keyboard's return key can greatly enhance your typing efficiency and comfort, especially as you switch between different keyboard layouts in your day-to-day activities.

Historical Evolution

While exploring how the return key is positioned on various keyboards enhances your typing, understanding its historical evolution can also deepen your appreciation of its role in technology. The return key's roots trace back to typewriters, where it was essential for the carriage return function, allowing you to start a new line of text. This key has been integral from the time of manual typewriters through to electric models.

As technology progressed to early computer terminals, the enter key emerged, primarily used for data submission. This was a natural evolution from its original purpose, adapting to the needs of digital input rather than merely text formatting. Additionally, the enter key on modern PC keyboards, particularly on numeric keypads, evolved from adding machines used for calculations, indicating its dual heritage.

Moreover, these keys are differentiated in their digital DNA—PCs and Macs use distinct location codes and ASCII codes for the return and enter keys. This distinction subtly influences their function and integration within software applications, underpinning their versatility in modern computing.

This journey from mechanical levers to complex digital commands showcases the return key's historical evolution and its pivotal role in the development of typing technology.

Comparing Enter and Return Keys

Although the Return and Enter keys may appear similar, they serve distinct functions in various applications. On most computer keyboards, including those conforming to the ANSI standard, you'll typically find the Return key labeled as 'Enter' on the main section, and an additional Enter key on the numeric keypad. This might seem confusing, but there's a vital and descriptive distinction between them that matters in certain contexts.

In word processing applications, the Return key is essential for inserting a hard return, which starts a new line or paragraph. It's not just about moving the cursor; it's about structuring your document. On the other hand, the Enter key on the numeric keypad often serves a different purpose, especially in spreadsheet programs or other specialized software.

Operating systems like Microsoft Windows may treat these two keys differently based on the context. For instance, while both keys generally execute commands or confirm data entry, the Return key might've additional functions in specific software environments. This dual role enhances the keyboard's utility but also adds a layer of complexity in understanding and using these keys effectively.


Now that you've explored the return key's role, you can appreciate its function in your daily typing and computing tasks.

Whether you're wrapping up a paragraph or executing commands, this key is essential across various keyboard layouts.

Remember, the return key might share a label with the enter key but their functions can differ slightly depending on the context and device.

Embrace this knowledge to enhance your efficiency and precision in all your digital interactions.