~40% ortho layout, but with dedicated number row?

First things first, I’m new to 40%, so this is a bit of a “zen mind, beginner’s mind” sort of post.

Along the lines of the posts Some ideas about sub-30% layouts involving the Enigma, pain27, Alpha and 30wer and Change My Mind: 40% layouts are insufficient for serious work, I’m wondering what changes to the standard “everything on a layer” might be doable, coming from a larger keyboard workflow.

I’m a bit intrigued by this zlant configuration with numbers on the bottom row flanking the space but I recognize that it sacrifices the raise/lower keys. I wonder if SpaceFN would be an appropriate substitute. My only other quibble with this layout is the lack of dedicated arrows (though again SpaceFN + vi keys could work) and the lack of control/option/command modifiers.

I’ve also considered putting the numbers on the top row and splitting the bottom alphas like this.

Thoughts, from a “here use this, it works for me” practical standpoint, or even a “theoretically, I think X” POV?


Interesting idea. Didn’t think of such a layout for my Zlant. Then again, I mostly have my Zlant, because I initally wanted to see how SA Vilebloom looks on the Zlant and hence I was quite restricted to the default Plank layout.

But there are only a few things I dislike with the Planck layout:

  • arrow/cursor keys all in one row (HJKL style, but dedicated)
  • Tab key above Escape key.

The layout with the number row and (maybe) modifiers just on tap is a creative idea, but looks kinda unintuïtive to me. The »Didn’t have any appropriate keycap sets to put on it, so I’ll make due with xda minila.« sounds as if the keycaps shown do not match the actually used layout.

I like your proposition more, but I’m not (yet) convinced by the 2u spacebar between the V and B keys due to the BNM keys shifted 2u to the right side. (Still waiting for my Alpha keyboard to try out such a layout and get my own opinion on this. Might be able to say more about this in a few weeks.)

What works quite well for me on my MiniVans and in similar way on the Zlant is the following layout without dedicated number row:


Zlant (not the latest screenshot, Insert, ScrollLock, Pause and friends are missing):

The basic idea are three layers:

  • One with numbers,
  • One with F-keys
  • One with mouse control and media keys (not yet implemented on the Zlant, basically just have the reset key on layer 3 there for now)


  • Left spacebar is SpaceFn, i.e. space on tap and Fn1 on hold.
  • The key right of the »up« key is slash and question mark on tap, and Fn2 on hold.
  • The usual »lower« key (fourth left modifier key, directly left of the spacebar) is my Fn3 on hold and backslash and pipe on tap.
  • Fn1 + top row is numbers (except Escape and Backspace which give »Backtick« and »Tilde« and »Delete«)
  • Fn2 + top row results in F-keys.
  • Both, Fn1 as well as Fn2 + second row give the special characts you usually get with Shift + numbers.
  • The menu key (key right of the spacebar) is mapped to compose in my OS.

Some key assignments decided by mnemonics:

  • Fn1-N is single and double quote; Fn1-M is Minus and Underscore

What works very well for me:

  • The number row on Fn1-QWERTYUIOP
  • The second row with the special characters of the classic number row, i.e. FnX-ASDFGHJKL:.
  • Single and double quote on FnX-N, Minus and Underscore on FnX-M.
  • »+« and »=« on FnX-Enter.
  • Insert on FnX-V

While using that layout I though figured that a few things are suboptimal:

  • I mix up the two spacebars quite often.
    • One spacebar or both spacebars configured as SpaceFn would solve this.
    • The reason for configuring them differently is that I occasionally want a spacebar that not only triggers on key release but rather quickly on key press.
    • Possibly involved is also the fact that on classic full-size and TKL keyboards, I hit spacebar most often with the right thumb, but not always. (Seems an 80:20 ratio or so.)
  • Typing a tilde (»Fn1-Shift-Esc«) is rather awkward as you would need two left pinkies.
    • QMK’s »Esc/~« would help there, but I occasionally need Shift-Esc (e.g. in the Chromium browser)
    • Since I have already similar key combos on FnX-Tab, maybe I should put the pure Escape key on FnX-Tab…
  • For quite a while I typed parentheses with Shift-FnX-»L« and -»;« without noticing that Shift isn’t needed. And I got so used to it that I still do it occasionally.
  • Typing German umlauts is possible but usually takes five keystrokes: Compose, Shift-Fn1-N, vocal
  • Slash/Question Mark right of the »Arrow Up« key is somehow difficult to get used to.

Still not sure how to improve it in detail, but surely will need one or two more iterations of tweaking…


I tried something like that with my Planck setup

It was ok, but I found out that I used special chars for programming more than the numbers. So for now I’m back to numbers om a layer