Why isn't punctuation also assigned to the keypad?

In writing some things about percents and using the % sign frequently, I find it odd that I can use the keypad to type, say, 50, but not press Shift+5 on the keypad to get the %. Instead, I have to go “all the way over” to the row of digits above the alphabetic part of the keyboard to press Shift+5 for the %.

Why aren’t the same symbols assigned to Shift+[keypad #]?

For that matter, why aren’t entirely different symbols assigned over there, like the cents sign, the Euro sign, etc.?

Because historically the symbols on the keypad are for operations, not punctuation or other labels. You wouldn’t do data entry on a calculator, would you? Adding more symbols would be an evolution, but maybe one you can monetize!

What I’ve always wanted with the keypad is some form of delete or backspace key. When I’m spending a lot of time with the keypad having to move my hand (or use my other one) gets annoying fast (the need for punctuation doesn’t come up as often).

Assuming you are on Windows you would just type ALT 37 to generate a percent sign using the numeric keypad. The number keys along the top of the keyboard use Shift to make symbols, the number keys on a numeric keypad use ALT-Codes to make the same symbols and many others.

Wouldn’t you run out of room over there? It’s pretty small…

I dunno what kind of keypad you have, but Shift + period is delete on mine.

Here you go: http://www.goldtouch.com/p-122-goldtouch-numeric-keypad-usb-putty.aspx
They threw in Esc, Tab, fn and the comma as well*. Worth its weight in gold for people like me who do a lot of QuickBooks work.
*Actually, I see that these newer version have a 00 in the place where my old one has a comma. I think I prefer the comma.

I know I can do that, but it isn’t germane to my question, which is: why can’t I just press Shift-5 on the keypad?

Neither is the “you wouldn’t do punctuation on a calculator” response, since, while I understand the parallel, I’m not using a calculator. Just because it LOOKS like a calculator keypad doesn’t mean it has to act like one.

Don’t get me wrong - I appreciate both responses - but I don’t have a “satisfactory” response yet. Maybe the “it’s historically been this way” is the correct response, but seems like a lousy reason to me. (And maybe to the person who proposed it.)

That’s what I’m talking about! For $60, though, I’ll keep doing it the hard way.

Good to know such things exist, and sad to know that I can’t monetize my idea.

My response is germane to the question but maybe I didn’t make it explicitly clear why. Whether or not you find it satisfactory is beyond my control but it is factual.

While the 5 on your keypad and the 5 on the number key along the top of the keyboard both have a “5” printed on them, they do not send the same keycode to the system when pressed. On Windows systems the numeric keypad is used for typing symbols in the manner described. The numbers across the top of the keyboard have some of the more common symbols separately available via the Shift key.

I hate to say it but I think the “you wouldn’t do punctuation on a calculator” response is closest to correct.

Historically, there was no need for a % on calculators because you would have to copy their output somewhere else, which is when you’d add your percentage sign if needed. Computer keypads evolved from calculators, and so they kept the same convention.

The real question is, why are you typing the % so much now? I mean, if you’re doing a lot of data entry, it’s into a spreadsheet or DB, right? Why not just set the spreadsheet column to be formatted “percent”, or add the % to the DB query? Seems like it’d save time and effort.

Thanks, didn’t know about that and it might be useful.

But if I’m going to have to move my hand or involve by other hand then I might as well just use the backspace key that is already there.

Ideally (to me) the Num Lock key would get moved elsewhere since I have never, ever wanted to hit that while intently using the keypad part of the keyboard and so all that ever happens is I hit it unintentionally. Then they’d put a second backspace there.

I guess I could probably look into remapping my keyboard.

I’m writing in Word, not Excel or another spreadsheet program; I write test questions for standardized tests.

Yes, I understand that. Providing me with an alternate way of writing a % sign does not address my question of why Shift+5 on the keypad doesn’t produce a % sign. Telling me I could open up Illustrator and make two circles and a line and copy and paste that image into my document by pressing Alt-V isn’t germane to my question, either, as it doesn’t answer WHY Shift+5 doesn’t produce a % sign.

If my question were, “Why doesn’t the brake pedal in my car stop the car?” a response of “You know, you can just use the emergency brake instead?” doesn’t answer my question.

Sheesh, I’m sorry I asked.

The keys are mapped to different key codes. That is the answer. If you remapped the keyboard to allow Shift and Number Pad 5 to generate the same keycode as Shift and the other 5 key, it would break other mappings that use either the Shift key, number pad 5 key or the other 5 key.

Your analogy is pretty far off. It is more like you are asking why pulling the emergency brake doesn’t turn on the brake lights, but pushing the brake pedal does, yet both of them slow the car down. The answer is that the emergency brake isn’t wired to the lights but the brake pedal is.

The 5 key on the numeric keypad isn’t wired to the Shift key in the same way the other 5 key is. It can’t be because it would no longer be the ‘other 5 key’ they would both have to be the same. That would break other mappings in use for that key.

I’m not sure there’s an answer that would satisfy you. Shift-5 on the keypad doesn’t print a % because nobody’s ever introduced that feature before. Which means either:

  1. nobody’s thought of it
  2. someone thought of it and decided the benefit wasn’t worth the cost
  3. someone thought of it and didn’t have the drive/resources to create his own keyboards to implement the idea

If you have a lot of these, all I could recommend is doing your data entry in a system that will add the % for you (like Excel or another spreadsheet program), then copy-and-paste from there into Word. That’s probably not a worthwhile time saver unless you have a ton of them, though.

As Crazyhorse said, the similarity between the 5 on the top row of the normal keyboard and the 5 on the number pad are not the same. What that means is that, in a sense, there is already another use for “Shift-5” on the number pad. The historical way of things is that the number pad was really like a keyboard mouse. The arrows let you move about the screen, pretty much exactly as the actual arrow keys do, with some of the other keys doing others sorts of page movements (page up and down and so on). The numbers themselves, in this sense, are the shifted arrow keys. Now it turns out that 5 does nothing in arrow mode, but that’s not too important. So, in this sense, you are mistaken that it would be wise to add something to “Shift-7” (say). The 7 is a shifted key, in this case, “Shift-Home.”

For historical reasons, the arrows of the number pad have remained the default, leading to most people leaving number lock on all the time. And I agree, that makes little sense, especially since on a standard keyboard, the page movement keys are right next to the number pad. It really would make sense to get rid of the arrow keys on the number pad altogether, and put in some new “shift” characters on there. (The percent sign, the money stuff, the parentheses, are all good, I think. I would replace the number lock key with an equal sign, too.) But even that fancy number pad someone linked to still has the arrows as the default.

It’s along those lines but even a little more complicated in this particular example. The Shift key affects the Num Lock status the same way it affects Caps Lock, e.g. it cancels it if it’s on. So on a standard keyboard mapping, with Num Lock on, when you press Shift, the numbers toggle back to being arrows instead of numbers - as though Num Lock were off. Having a Shift-KeyPad-Number combo is impossible because they become Shift-KeyPad-Arrow combos as soon as Shift is pressed. If you did that, the real shift key-arrow combos would break and they would have to be remapped to something else, etc.

The standard keyboard mapping can be edited and there are programs to make it easier by taking over the keyboard mapping while any program is running, like this one. With something like that, Shift-number pad 5 could probably be mapped to wind up generating a percent sign in Word when all is said and done. The question is if its really worth it when typing Alt - 37 is just about as easy as typing Shift-Num-5 to begin with.

Also, Word probably has an “insert symbol” macro built-in that could be activated with a given key combo no more or less complex than Shift-5 or Alt-37.

Thanks for these clarifications.

Well, it is bit easier to remember which keys to press to get a given effect when they’re written on the keys themselves. But with a personalized mapping on a standard keyboard, the Alt method and the Shift method are pretty much about the same, in terms of difficulty.

And since I just pressed it five times typing this response, why can’t they move the Caps lock key?

What the world needs is a one-button keyboard: the “DWIM” key: Do What I Mean. :slight_smile:
If Steve Jobs could have lived another 20 years, who knows?