6.1.3 @kbd{keyboard-characters}

Use the @kbd command for characters of input to be typed by users. For example, to refer to the characters M-a, write:


and to refer to the characters M-x shell, write:

@kbd{M-x shell}

By default, the @kbd command produces a different font (slanted typewriter instead of normal typewriter, where the output format allows), so users can distinguish the characters that they are supposed to type from those that the computer outputs.

Since the usage of @kbd varies from manual to manual, you can control the font switching with the @kbdinputstyle command. This command has no effect on Info output. Write this command at the beginning of a line with a single word as an argument, one of the following:


Always use the same font for @kbd as @code.


Use the distinguishing font for @kbd only in @example and similar environments.


(the default) Always use the distinguishing font for @kbd.

You can embed another @-command inside the braces of a @kbd command. Here, for example, is the way to describe a command that would be described more verbosely as “press the ‘r’ key and then press the RETURN key”:

@kbd{r @key{RET}}

This produces: r RET. (The present manual uses the default for @kbdinputstyle.)

You also use the @kbd command if you are spelling out the letters you type; for example:

To give the @code{logout} command,
type the characters @kbd{l o g o u t @key{RET}}.

This produces:

To give the logout command, type the characters l o g o u t RET.

(Also, this example shows that you can add spaces for clarity. If you explicitly want to mention a space character as one of the characters of input, write @key{SPC} for it.)