Lack of Russian Keyboard and Other Obstacles

What are the technical obstacles faced by novice English to Russian translators? Learn what you need to know about Russian characters on your keyboard.

How Trite Does This Sound?

It’s a yesterday’s news that QWERTY and Cyrillic keyboards are completely different. The QWERTY keyboard was designed and patented as early as the second half of the 19th century. Its name is derived from the first six characters in the second row of typewriter keys. The QWERTY system is now THE basic computer keyboard arrangement for the Latin alphabet. Particular variants of QWERTY keyboard differ slightly, depending on the language, layout, and purpose. Thus we may have keyboards based on mechanical, visual or functional layout. The QWERTY may be modified to become, for example, QWERTZ, AZERTY or QZERTY layout. There are also non-QWERTY keyboards, like the most well-know Dvorak keyboard.


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Russian language—belonging to the group of East Slavic languages, and contrary to the West Slavic languages, like Polish—is written in Cyrillic alphabet, called ‘гражданский шрифт’, or ‘grazhdanka’. This is a simplified version of the Cyrillic alphabet, introduced at the beginning of the 18th century and eventually reformed in the beginning of the 19th century. Given the obvious differences between Latin and Cyrillic script, Russian language requires properly adjusted keyboard, which is sometimes referred to as JCUKEN keyboard.

What Are the Solutions Then?

Any trouble that consist in lack of an appropriate keyboard concern virtually only translations of other languages into Russian. Translating Russian to English (or other language) usually does not pose a big technical problem. When translating Russian as a source language to e.g. English, outside of Russia and Russian speaking countries, you virtually always have a QWERTY keyboard (or other appropriate one) at your disposal. In Russia itself, on the other hand, bilingual or multilingual keyboards are obviously more frequently used than keyboards with additional Cyrillic characters are outside of Russia. Therefore, if a simple online translator should not be used, the most popular solutions are:

  • using special stickers with Russian alphabet characters or marking the keyboard with Cyrillic characters;
  • using on-screen keyboard;
  • using online Russian typing tools like, or Russian virtual keyboards;
  • buying a Russian keyboard.

Until recently, the most popular solution amongst people who translate into Russian was using stickers with Cyrillic characters. They are cheap and universally available in online stores. The stickers are simply stuck on QWERTY keyboard keys according to the Russian layout. It is even cheaper to make them yourself or simply mark the keyboard with Cyrillic characters using a permanent marker.

Another quick and easy way is to use the system screen keyboard. When using it, you can type in the symbols visible on its keys into text fields. You can do it using the cursor controlled by a mouse or touchpad, or with the computer’s keyboard. While using the computer’s keyboard, the on-screen keyboard becomes the model layout of the entered characters. This solution, however, is useful when you type in short texts. Using it for larger texts can be troublesome. And you do not what persistent troubles when you need a job done right.

What You Should Always Remember about Is…

Of course, you need to change keyboard language settings in your operating system to make use of the mentioned methods. In order to do that, you need to add Russian keyboard to you taskbar.

  • For Windows 7 and later add language by entering the settings, using the following path: Control Panel > Region and Language > Keyboards and Languages > Change Keyboards for Windows.
  • For Mac OS add language by entering the settings, using the following path: System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources.

Solutions that Are Brought to You Online

Another method is using online resources that are not language translators, but can be useful when translating into Russian. Some sites require you to type in a Latin alphabet text and the site automatically changes the characters. Typing errors and other mistakes are possible, though. Every text should be carefully checked afterwards. These are, for sure, very handy tools, but they cannot be recommended when you complete professional translations. The Internet offers a variety of online keyboards. All you need to do is type in “Russian keyboard” in your search engine.

Good Advices for the Future

The Cyrillic keyboard has, of course, a completely different key layout than the QWERTY one. This can pose a lot of difficulties for a beginner translator. In this case, nothing can substitute experience, but effects will surely come with time. There are also computer programs that help you learn to type Russian phrases. On the other hand, it is not recommended to use Russian phonetic keyboards, in which character layout corresponds to the QWERTY keyboard. This facilitates work a lot in the beginning, compared to learning to type in the standard Cyrillic system. But at the same time it is recommended for the people who use Russian language for private, non-professional aims. A potential employer might require the ability to use the Cyrillic keyboard.

Some other difficulties might result from changing keyboard language settings and switching from one language system into another. It is most convenient to carry out a Russian text translation continuously. It is not comfortable to change keyboard settings continuously in order to write something with the Latin alphabet in the meantime (despite using keyboard shortcuts), as well as “readjusting your head” from one system to another all the time.

And for Those Who Look for Professionally Done Russian Translations…

The solution is Slavis Translation Agency. Anyone wishing to get professional translations should certainly turn to experts who are able to get the Russian translation done for you in no time: correct and error-free. No worries with lack of Russian keyboard. No worries with erroneous online automatic solutions. Slavis secures professionally done translations, that are carried out by experienced and proficient linguists.