Proper Monitor Height for a Pain-Free Workday

monitor height

Sore muscles, headaches, eye strain, and discomfort.  These are just some of the feelings we all experience after a long day at our desk.  But this doesn't have to be the case.  Simple adjustments to your office can help relieve these symptoms.  You'll notice a difference by just by setting the proper monitor height and positioning for your computer screen.

Video: How To Position Your Computer Monitor For All Day Comfort 

Check out the video below for the complete guide to computer monitor positioning. This incudes monitor height, monitor distance, monitor tilt, and working with multiple monitors. 

We sometimes spend so much time deciding on furniture and appearance of our office.  And it’s true that these things improve mood and productivity.  However, it's useless if you aren't comfortable and pain-free at your desk. 

Most offices don’t provide workers with an ergonomic set-up, but this isn’t done on purpose.  It's actually because there's a lack of knowledge on the importance of ergonomics at work (and at home).  This is where we come in!

Below we talk about how simple tweaks to ergonomic monitor height, monitor viewing angles, distance from monitors, and posture can immediately help relive pain.

    What Is The Correct Monitor Height?

    The height of the monitor(s) in your office determines the daily stress you put on your neck.  Any issue with the neck is no laughing matter. These issues cause pain that can affect the quality of your work.  This can range from throbbing headaches to pain in your back.

    There was even a research study conducted that determined tilting your head down by just 15 degrees added an extra 27 lbs of pressure to your spine! 

    incorrect monitor height

    In order to avoid this extra neck strain, you'll want to place your monitors at the ideal monitor height.  This means minimizing the amount you move your neck by looking up or down. 

    You should be positioned so your eyes are 1 to 3 inches below the top of your monitor frame, while in a comfortable sitting posture. This allows you to view most of your monitor without having to tilt your head.  

    proper monitor height

    Our eyes see more visuals below the horizontal line of sight than above. You can test this next time you walk down a hallway, do you see more of the floor or the ceiling when looking straight? 

    You'll likely need to raise your computer monitor(s) if they are standard size (around 21"-24" or smaller)

    What If You Are Using An Extra Large Monitor?

    If using an extra large monitor for your workstation, you still want to position your eyes 1 to 3 inches below the top of the monitor frame. However, with these extra large monitors, you may not require a monitor stand or monitor arm. An example of an extra large monitor would be something like the 27" iMac.

    correct monitor height for extra large monitors

    Proper Monitor Height For Standing Desk

    Should your monitor height be any different if you often use a standing desk? Not really. It is best to follow the 1-3" guideline, but we noticed that positioning your eyes with the top of the monitor frame was comfortable as well. 

    The most important thing to consider with your standing desk is ensuring your elbows are at the ergonomic 90 degree or larger, while your eyes are in-line or slightly below the top of your monitor frame.

    monitor height for standing desk

    What Is The Correct Distance For Your Computer Screen?

    The distance between you and your monitor is the another factor to consider to prevent chronic pain.   Sitting too close to your monitor causes eyestrain and has been linked to many issues.  These include headaches, neck pain, and even nearsightedness.  Sitting too far from your monitor has similarly been linked to eyestrain and headaches.

    It’s a good rule to sit an arm’s length distance from your monitor. 

    monitor distance guideline

    If you have a monitor that is larger than 20 inches from corner-to-corner, move the monitor further away. 

    For exact changes, move it 12 inches away for every 7 additional inches of screen size.  Final monitor depth will differ slightly from user to user and is dependent on factors such as vision.  The most important thing is that you should be able to view your monitor without squinting or turning your head.

    Ergonomic Positioning for Multiple Monitors

    With how many people are working from home nowadays its common have have desk setups with dual monitors or multiple screens. This can seriously help with productivity depending on your tasks.

    However, it is important to factor in the best ergonomic position for dual monitors. You'll ultimately want to reduce the amount of head twisting and eye travel as much as possible. 

    If using two or more monitors make sure to position them as close as possible to each other. With their inside edges touches. The monitors should also be at a slight inwards. 

    Mostly Using One Primary Screen

    Are you mostly using one screen? While only on occasion glancing over at the second monitor? If this is the case, you'll want to position yourself, keyboard and mouse directly in front your primary monitor. The secondary monitor will be off to the side.

    dual monitors using mostly one screen

    Equally Using Both Screens

    In the other case, maybe you are using both monitors equally. If so, position yourself, keyboard and mouse directly in the middle of the dual monitors. 

    dual monitors equally using both screens

    Should You Tilt or Angle Your Computer Screen?

    It is generally recommended that your computer screen is tilted back slightly (around 10-20 degrees) to keep the focal distance of the top and bottom of the screen equal. This will however depend on some individual factors like sitting posture and monitor size. 

    You may also need to temporarily tilt your screen slightly to reduce glare on your screen depending on the lighting in your office. Glare and reflected light can cause eye strain and fatigue. We will touch more on this topic in the lighting consideration section.

    Lighting Considerations For Monitor Setup

    Having natural light in your office has scientifically proven benefits to your overall health. However, it’s very important to consider how you set up your desk area when it comes to lighting. The best recommendation is to place your desk so windows are at your sides, using indirect lighting. Windows in front or behind you should be avoided if possible. 

    lighting considerations for monitor setup


    Best Ways To Raise Your Monitor To The Ideal Viewing Height

    Stack Of Books

    Simply using a stack of books to raise your computer monitor is better than not raising it at all! This is a completely free and great temporary option that helps move your monitor to an ergonomic height. 

    raise monitor with books

    - Free way to raise monitor to proper ergonomic height
    - Great temporary or short term option

    - Has an unprofessional look
    - Does not add any extra desk space
    - Not the best long-term options

    Monitor Stand or Monitor Riser

    A single monitor riser or dual monitor stand is a great addition to add to your desk setup while raising your screen to the perfect height.

    riser stand for ideal monitor heightHeight Adjustment:  When your chair is set to the correct height, it is likely your monitor will be positioned too low.  Monitor stands give you the ability to raise your monitors to a level that is ideal for your sight line.  Many stands provide the ability to make adjustments to the height to make sure it is suited to your needs. 

    Usable Desk Space:  One added benefit of monitor stands is that they add usable desk space – up to 50 % in some cases.  They lift your monitors above the surface of your desk, making that surface available to use as you please. 

    Visual Benefits:  Monitor stands can also be a visually appealing option to improve aesthetics and impress customers and visitors.   The visual improvement will depend on the monitor stand quality. Our advice is to invest in a high-quality monitor stand that showcases high grade materials such as real wood and stainless steel. 

    Single and Dual Set-ups:  Monitor stands are versatile since they can provide you with space for any number of monitors.  There are stands commercially available for single monitor and dual monitor set-ups.  If you find yourself changing the number of monitors you are using, you can get multiple single monitor stands for your desired set-up.

    - Raises monitor(s) to correct ergonomic height
    - Great long-term option
    - Adds extra desktop space
    - Monitor risers come in a variety of colors and sizes

    - Costs $40-$100+ depending on size, style and materials

    Monitor Arms or Mounts

    Another option to consider are monitor arms or mounts.

    monitor arm mount to raise screensHeight Adjustment:  Monitor arms that attach to the back of your desk give you the ability to easily adjust the height of your monitors.    Though they require work to install, they are helpful if you need to move and adjust your monitors to show other people. Monitor arms usually allow you to move your monitors in multiple directions.

    Usable Desk Space: Monitor mounts also provide the benefit of opening space on your desk.  While they aren’t as visually appealing, they allow you to use 100% of your desk surface.

    Single and Dual Set-ups: This is another feature that is shared between monitor stands and monitor mount arms.  There are products available for both single and dual monitor set ups.

    - Adjustable height, distance, and orientation
    - Great long-term option
    - Pairs great with a monitor stand for extra desk shelf space

    - Doesn't add extra shelf storage space by itself

    Position Your Monitors and Your Body to Rid Yourself of Pain

    A poor ergonomic office set-up is an easily avoidable source of discomfort.  If you are experiencing daily pain - follow all of the advice given above. 

    If you aren’t experiencing daily pain and you want to keep it that way - follow all of the advice given above!  Whenever you are making positive changes, sooner is always better than later.

    Adjust your posture as necessary and focus on your feet, knees, elbows, back, and neck.  Remain conscious of how you are positioned throughout the day.  Eventually, your newly improved posture will become a habit.

    We can’t stress enough how setting up your office to achieve ergonomic efficiency will get rid of pain.  Concentrate on the position of your furniture, adjust your chair settings, and get a monitor stand before you find yourself wishing you had made these changes sooner.

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    Written by The Office Oasis