Is Your Pipe Wrong?

50 comments

Something that came up in conversation this weekend (well, this is what happens when you get more than one geek in a room)… on many keyboards, the pipe is in the wrong place.

The pipe — that’s | to you non-geeks — is just to the right of the left-hand shift key on UK keyboards. Position may vary slightly but you get the idea. Now, on some UK keyboards, even though the pipe character appears when pressing that key, more times than not it’s actually the vertical broken bar that’s printed on the keyboard. It’s a ready-made typo just waiting to trip you up!

Are you following? Probably not, here’s a visual (thanks to wired.com for the keyboard image):

vostro keyboard

And indeed, this is quite common. Rachael‘s pipe is in the right place on her Asus EEE, but Amelie‘s Toshiba is wrong, as is a Compaq keyboard and several Dells at her work.

So, where’s your pipe, and is it printed correctly?

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

50 comments so far

  1. Aisling said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    My Canadian keyboard has my broken bar key under the backspace button, but pressing it makes | . Which is lame, because I wanted to make a :| guy with a split lip as if he was just in an epic brawl. :(

  2. Chantelle said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    When I type | I get |. It’s located above the enter key, and below backspace on my HP keyboard. The key on my keyboard looks exactly like the character I type. I can’t type an em dash.

  3. Nellie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    On my US layout keyboard, my pipe is below my backspace and above my enter key on the right. And yes, it’s printed with dashes. :)

  4. Mumblies said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    I have a filled in line not broken, so it appears that Dell got it wrong, but thanks to Fred and his cornflakes that key doesn’t work so I have no idea if it prints the solid line or a broken one :o)

  5. Hanna said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Well it’s next to shift key and… you know what I don’t care. This is way too geeky stuff. I have one pipe and it has always been there in all keyboards I have used. (Alt Gr+<)

  6. Stephanie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    My pipe is above the return key and below the delete key on my Mac keyboard. The symbol on the key is not broken — it’s the full pipe you see when you type it: |

    Apple can get things right sometimes :P

  7. Gem said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    My (UK) keyboard’s set up is the same as in the picture. It’s an HP and, to be honest, I’ve not much use for the pipe key, so it’s not really bothered me! Though, if I use Alt Gr and press the key with the pic of the pipe key I get the pic on the pipe key button (¦)…?!
    ¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|¦|

  8. Anita said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    On every keyboard I’ve ever gotten, it showed the broken line, but the solid line always showed up. I had always wondered why they show the broken line…
    My new keyboard is from the Microsoft dawgs and has the solid line :D

  9. Allie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Mine is below backspace and above enter. On the key it shows a broken line but using it creates |. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pipe key that didn’t show a broken line.

    I’ve gotten so many weird looks when I’ve tried to explain to people which one is forward slash and which one is back slash. It always gets me that people can’t tell the difference. I usually resort to saying “Forward slash is on the same key as ? is” because hardly anyone else knows what a pipe is.

  10. Roxanne said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    As Nellie said, right below the delete button (for MACs), backspace (for PCs). For me its in a very convenient spot. I rarely touch the ESC or button before the number 1, that being the ~/` button, not sure what they are called. Then again, I’m used to it…

    I don’t even have a key with a “broken” pipe and if I try pressing the pipe key with alt/option (MAC) I get this = «

    Which I didn’t even know! 0_0

  11. Vera said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Mine’s right above the enter key, sharing the same key as the slash (\). On the company keyboard, it’s below the enter key.

  12. Stephanie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    On my Mac it doesn’t have the dash in between, but I was pretty much confused all my life about that key on the PC because of the dash. I’ve used computers my entire life (okay, maybe since I was 3) and I hadn’t figured out that key until a couple of years ago. It’s sooo confusing.

  13. Amelie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    My old laptop is wrong as well. So’s its old keyboard. All the keyboards in this house (5-6 of them) are wrong as well.

  14. Allee said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    That’s called a Pipe key? Wow, I guess you do learn something new everyday. I’ve been calling it the “line thing” all this time, heh. But, yes, mine is located right above the return key and below the delete key (on le mac). I’m not sure where it is on my Compaq, though. Hmm…

  15. Carly said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Jesus women, I’ve only just found the @ button, I do have one of these:

    ± and one of these § who knows what they are though.

    (*Carly is looking around the keyboard on her mac*)

    | oh there it is, that wasn’t so hard. It’s on the right.

    §§±±±±§§§§±±±±§§§±±± hehe

  16. Joe said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    The keyboard which came with my Dell Inspiron 530 has the pipe in the correct place.

    I’ve never actually heard of this before. I’m totally going round checking all the keyboards in college tomorrow!

  17. Katy said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I never look at my keyboard anyway…

  18. Katie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    UK keyboards are weird ;) Mine is the same as Nellie’s.

    I’ve started doing European email support at work, and so sometimes I see weird issues with keyboard mapping and what not. I constantly have to look up what keyboards look like in other countries. My reference that I use for the UK keyboard looks like the one in your picture. Good to know that it’s probably wrong!

  19. Britney said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I still don’t get which one is the proper printing: the broken one or the non-broken one?
    Mine is non-broken and it’s above my Enter key and to the right of my ]} key. :)

  20. Jem said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I still don’t get which one is the proper printing: the broken one or the non-broken one?

    It depends on what key you press – if you’re pressing ¦ and getting | (or vice versa) it’s wrong…

  21. Annie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    My Dell keyboard’s pipe key is wrong. It’s a sad day… :P

  22. Robbie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    I’m in the USA, and my pipe is on the key above the Enter key. It is printed as a broken bar, but it does in fact show up as |. I can’t seem to find a key with the pipe actually printed on it…

  23. Angie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    My keyboard is right and wrong. I have the pipe key next to the left shift and another one next to the ” key, just above the right shift.

  24. Trish said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I’m in the US, have a Compaq keyboard, and the pipe is a solid vertical line located above the enter key. ||||

  25. Clem said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I don’t think I can get the broken one on my Canadian keyboard… the | is above the enter key, shared with the backslash.

  26. Stephanie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Is there any actual semantic use for the broken pipe?

  27. Jem said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I have absolutely no idea whatsoever.

  28. Mimi said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I have a broken line above my enter key but it makes it solid. That’s so weird! O.o |||

  29. Julie said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    The | is shown on the same key as Clem’s keyboard, but I set it to French Canadian. I have to press Shift + the key just left of 1 (not on the number pad, the one just above the letter keys) to make a pipe.

    Then again, as I said, with the keyboard set to FC, practically NONE of the special characters are where it says they are. The quotation marks (“) are where the @ is shown, the slash (/) is where # is shown, and so on. But I don’t care because I’m used to that type of keyboard so I know what to hit. When I find a keyboard that is set to English Canadian, I get all confused.

  30. Josh said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I don’t even have a pipe key. Just a broken pipe, which makes a regular pipe. And you UKers have the cool negation symbol on your keyboard! I’m jealous, as I like to make the face, but I have to press alt-170 to get it. ¬_¬

  31. AlisonW said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    My Pipe and, er, broken pipe are pictured the opposite way around to your graphic, and | means | and ¦ means ¦ so I get what I type ;-P

  32. Britney said:
    On December 8, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Oh. Well, I only have 1: |
    I guess mine is correct, then :)
    Microsoft keyboard. Thanks Bill Gates!!!

  33. Ang said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Oh that would mess me up something fierce to have the z,x,c, etc keys over to the right one key. My pipe is above the Enter key.

  34. Kaylee said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 4:02 am

    I don’t even have a broken pipe, and like so many others, I just have | under the backspace/on top of enter.

    I have noticed that the keyboard image in this post is a bit different from every keyboard I remember using — I don’t have that broken pipe/slash button at all. My Z key is between A and S.

  35. Hanna said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 5:15 am

    oohhh if I press alt gr+1 I get ¡¡¡ and if I press alt gr+< I get |||||||||||| (I know the first is just exclamation mark upside down ;))

    (and for your information I got error page when I tried to comment first time, I assume wp agreed with me that this is a pointless comment)

  36. Stephanie said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 6:02 am

    http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2006/02/24/538496.aspx

    A more semantic discussion on the history of the pipe vs broken bar thinger ;)

  37. Jem said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 8:57 am

    My Z key is between A and S.

    So is mine at work. That picture is of the Dell Vostro keyboard. It’s not hard to switch between the two :)

  38. Lisa said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 10:14 am

    ||||| mine is broken, and placed at the very top left of my kayboard. Wonder why it’s broken?

  39. Enzo said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

    On my old keyboard , the pipe key was in between the first Alt key and the spacebar. On this new one I’m using, it is in between the plus/equal sign and the backspace. it shares the same key with the backslash and is printed correctly. I don’t have a broken pipe though…

  40. Mari said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I don’t have the solid pipe key, but my broken one sits above the tab key and makes a |.

  41. Louise said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    We have US keyboards in Australia. :o So our pipe key is usually above Enter and below Backspace.

  42. Rise said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    My pipe key is above the return key, below the backspace key. I’m using a US keyboard (but am English). It has the vertical broken bar image, but produces a pipe. x.x

  43. Riitta said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Hee, just for the record: I only have the broken one on my Finnish keyboard (Acer Aspire Gemstone) and it’s between the shift and Z keys. :) And it types |.

    .. yay for geeky random subjects!

  44. Caity said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Wow that is strange. Mine is above my ENTER key and below my Backspace key and it’s printed correctly.

  45. Rachael said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    They’re flipped on my alienware m3450. The one next to the 1 key is ¦ and the one on the backslash is |, even though the labels ar ethe other way around.

  46. Claire said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Using my Mac keyboard, my pipe key is on the right-hand side, just before the large ‘return’ key and it makes pipes wonderfully. My Dell keyboard on the other hand, is pretty much the same as that image you posted. :S

  47. Nori said:
    On December 9, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Mine, like many others with US keyboards, is under the backspace key. …However, I can’t tell you if it’s a broken pipe or not, as most of the markings on my keys have rubbed off XD To give you an idea, Q is the only letter key fully visible, Z is still sort of visible and my backspace key just sort-of says “pace” x3 In addition, the formerly textured keys have been worn smooth and/or now contain grooves from my finger nails. Clearly I type too much.

    On my laptop (Mac) keyboard, however, it’s in the same spot (below delete), and actually has a pipe on it.

  48. Anthony said:
    On December 10, 2008 at 4:22 am

    |||||||||||||||| lmfao on my toshiba laptop it’s under the backspace and i’m assuming that’s correct i’ve bever seen it anywhere else.

    In the pic you posted is there three different things on that one key? If so how does it work?

  49. Alex said:
    On December 10, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I use a Saitek Eeclipse keyboard and my | is right of the left shift. I don’t know where I’d be without my trusty |!

  50. Melissa said:
    On December 10, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    On my Acer Aspire (groan) I get ` when I press the pipe key on its own and ¬ with shift+pipe key. No pipe, broken or otherwise, pressing it with any combination!

    Weird, I’ve never thought of that before.

    Oh, pressing my broken pipe key with shift gives me |. Crazy!