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Keycaps are the actual physical keys that you strike with your fingers when typing. The term "keycap" arises from the fact that these pieces "cap" the actual keyswitches that move during a keystroke, and tell the keyboard circuitry which keys were hit. Keycaps are also sometimes called "key tops" or even just "keys" (I avoid the latter term to reduce ambiguity.)
The oldest keyboards did not in fact have keycaps: the keycap and keyswitch were designed and manufactured as a single integrated unit. Removable keycaps are a superior design for a number of reasons:
The keycaps play an important role in the comfort issues involved in using the keyboard, because they are what you actually are using with your fingers. In this section I discuss various issues related to the keycaps, including their size and positioning, shape, texture and travel. I also discuss special keycaps, used for larger keys such as the <Enter> key and <Space Bar>.