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Typewriter vs. Keyboard — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 27, 2024
A typewriter is a mechanical device for typing characters onto paper, while a keyboard is an electronic input device for computers and digital systems.
Typewriter vs. Keyboard — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Typewriter and Keyboard


Key Differences

Typewriters mechanically imprint characters onto paper through the physical force of pressing keys, creating a direct physical connection between the action and the result. On the other hand, keyboards send electronic signals to a computer or device, translating keystrokes into digital characters displayed on a screen. This difference fundamentally changes the user's interaction with text, offering immediate editing and formatting capabilities with keyboards that typewriters lack.
The tactile feedback from typewriters is distinct, with each key producing a noticeable physical response and sound, contributing to a unique typing experience. Whereas, keyboards vary widely in their tactile feedback, from the clicky keys of mechanical keyboards to the soft touch of membrane keyboards, providing options for personal preference but often lacking the singular mechanical feedback of typewriters.
Typewriters require no electricity and offer a standalone operation, making them portable in a different sense than electronic devices. In contrast, keyboards need an electronic device like a computer to function, limiting their usability to contexts where such technology is available.
With typewriters, corrections are cumbersome, often requiring physical correction tape or fluid, which can interrupt the writing process. Keyboards, however, facilitate easy corrections and revisions, thanks to software features like backspace, delete, and cut-and-paste functions, enhancing the efficiency of writing and editing.
The permanence of typewritten documents stands out; once a letter is typed, it’s permanently marked on the paper, barring physical alterations. Keyboards enable dynamic document creation, where changes can be made seamlessly without leaving a physical trace, offering greater flexibility but also less tangibility in the initial drafting phase.

Comparison Chart


Physical paper
Digital screens



Tactile Feedback

Direct, with a uniform response
Varies, from clicky to soft-touch

Power Requirement

Requires electricity


Physically portable, standalone use
Portable, but requires a computer or device

Correction Capability

Cumbersome, manual
Easy, with digital editing tools

Document Permanence

Immediate and permanent
Editable, with changes not immediately visible

Typing Experience

Unique, with mechanical feedback
Customizable, less uniform

Reliance on External Devices

Dependent on computer or digital device

Editing and Formatting

Limited, manual processes
Extensive, with software support

Compare with Definitions


Employs a ribbon and key levers for operation.
The typewriter's ribbon needed replacement after finishing the manuscript.


Can be mechanical, membrane, or virtual.
He preferred a mechanical keyboard for gaming due to its precise feedback.


Offers a standalone writing experience.
Without electricity, he preferred using his typewriter for drafting letters.


Enables easy editing and formatting.
With a few keystrokes, he reformatted the entire document.


Requires manual correction methods.
She used correction fluid to fix typos made on her typewriter.


Allows for a customizable typing experience.
He adjusted the keyboard settings to speed up his workflow.


Provides tangible, immediate results.
The freshly typed document lay on the typewriter's platen, ready for mailing.


A row of levers that are depressed with the fingers to produce or modulate the sound of an instrument, such as a piano or organ.


(Printing) A typestyle like that of typewritten copy.


Requires an electronic device to function.
She bought a wireless keyboard for her tablet to make typing easier.


A mechanical device for writing characters on paper.
She typed the invitation letters on an old typewriter, enjoying the tactile feedback.


An electronic device for inputting characters into a digital system.
She connected the keyboard to her laptop to write her novel.


A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and each one causes a different single character to be produced on paper by striking an inked ribbon selectively against the paper with a type element.


A panel of buttons used for typing and performing other functions on a computer or typewriter.


A writing machine that produces characters similar to typeset print by means of a manually operated keyboard that actuates a set of raised types, which strike the paper through an inked ribbon.


Any of various instruments, played by means of a musical keyboard, often connected to a synthesizer or amplifier.


A device, at least partially mechanical, used to print text by pressing keys that cause type to be impressed through an inked ribbon onto paper.


To set (copy) by means of a keyed typesetting machine
Keyboard a manuscript.


(archaic) One who uses a typewriter; a typist.


To enter (text or data) into a computer by means of a keyboard.


A machine gun or submachine gun (from the noise it makes when firing).


(Music) To play (a composition) on a piano or keyboard.


A prank in which fingers are jabbed roughly onto someone's chest followed by striking them over the ear in imitation of using an old-fashioned typewriter.


A set of keys used to operate a typewriter, computer etc.


An instrument for writing by means of type, a typewheel, or the like, in which the operator makes use of a sort of keyboard, in order to obtain printed impressions of the characters upon paper.


(music) A component of many instruments including the piano, organ, and harpsichord consisting of usually black and white keys that cause different tones to be produced when struck.


One who uses such an instrument.


(music) A device with keys of a musical keyboard, used to control electronic sound-producing devices which may be built into or separate from the keyboard device.


Hand-operated character printer for printing written messages one character at a time


(intransitive) To type on a computer keyboard.
Keyboarding is the part of this job I hate the most.


The whole arrangement, or one range, of the keys{3} of an organ, piano, typewriter, etc.; that part of a device containing the keys{3} used to operate it.


Device consisting of a set of keys on a piano or organ or typewriter or typesetting machine or computer or the like


Holder consisting of an arrangement of hooks on which keys or locks can be hung

Common Curiosities

Can you use a typewriter without electricity?

Yes, typewriters are mechanical and do not require electricity.

Are typewriters still used today?

While not common, typewriters are still used by some enthusiasts and in specific contexts for their unique features.

Can keyboards work independently without computers?

No, keyboards need to be connected to a computer or digital device to function.

Can you correct mistakes easily on a keyboard?

Yes, keyboards allow for easy corrections using backspace, delete, and other editing functions.

Do typewriters offer different fonts and sizes?

Typewriters have fixed fonts and sizes, determined by the model and the typeface of the installed ribbon.

What’s the advantage of using a keyboard over a typewriter?

Keyboards offer digital convenience, including editing, formatting, and seamless integration with modern technology.

Can you save documents on a typewriter?

No, typewriters produce physical documents; there's no digital file to save.

Are keyboards customizable?

Yes, especially mechanical keyboards, which can be customized in terms of keycaps, switches, and more.

Is it possible to connect a keyboard to a tablet or smartphone?

Yes, many keyboards can connect to tablets and smartphones via Bluetooth or USB.

How do typewriter ribbons work?

Typewriter ribbons transfer ink to paper when keys are pressed, imprinting characters.

Do all keyboards have the same layout?

No, there are various keyboard layouts, such as QWERTY, AZERTY, and Dvorak.

How do you maintain a typewriter?

Maintenance includes cleaning, oiling the mechanics, and replacing the ribbon.

Can typewriters be used for all types of documents?

Yes, but with limitations in formatting and correction compared to digital documents.

Are there wireless typewriters?

No, typewriters are mechanical and do not feature wireless capabilities; however, there are typewriter-inspired wireless keyboards.

How does the tactile feedback of a keyboard compare to a typewriter?

Typewriters provide consistent mechanical feedback, while keyboards’ feedback can vary widely depending on the type.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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