How To Position Your Monitor and Why It Matters

Niamh Pentony

Niamh Pentony

MSc. Applied Ergonomics

A common issue arising during virtual DSE assessments is incorrect monitor placement. When we talk about monitors, these include laptop monitors, tablets as well as the standard external computer monitors.

But, why does it matter?

Inappropriate monitor position can encourage adverse postures of the neck, shoulders and back, can increase the risk of eye strain and eye fatigue and can increase the risk of headaches and migraines.

If the screen is too low it will encourage slouching or rounding down toward it. If the screen is too high it will encourage repetitive neck extension. If it is too far from you it will be difficult to read and will encourage forward leaning. If it is too close it can cause eye strain and fatigue.

There are different ways to place your monitors based on how many you have, how you use them and your visual requirements.

As a rule of thumb, the monitor shoulder be approximately an arm length from your seated position when you are seated upright with your back against the backrest of the chair.

Reducing Glare and Reflections

To reduce the risk of glare and reflections, ideally the monitor should be positioned at a right angle to the window or natural light source.

If this is not possible, position the natural light behind the monitor, using adjustable blinds or curtains to eliminate any direct sunlight.

If you experience glare from overhead lighting, adjust the tilt angle or move the position of the workstation to reduce the glare.

Monitor Height

Whether it is a laptop or an external monitor, the screen should be high enough that when you are seated upright, with your back against the backrest of the chair and looking straight ahead with a relaxed neutral neck, your eyeline rests on the top third of the screen. The internet address bar is a good guide.

Remember, set your seated height first and then set your monitor height.

Ideal monitor height for employees with no corrective lenses or single vision lenses

However, if you wear varifocal / bifocal glasses, you should position the screen lower than your resting eyeline and tilt the top of the screen backwards so you can see the screen through the lower part of your lenses and reduce adverse neck postures.

Ideal monitor height and tilt for bifocal / varifocal users

Using a Single Monitor

The screen, be it laptop or external monitor, should be positioned directly in front of your seated position and the keyboard. This will help keep you optimally aligned, keeping the ear over the shoulder over the hip.

Ideal single monitor position and alignment

Using Dual Monitors

The placement of dual monitors varies based on how you use them.

If you use one monitor as a main monitor and one as a secondary holding monitor, for emails or reference documents (80/20 use) position one monitor directly in front of your seated position. The second monitor should be positioned next to this main monitor and turned in towards the seated position to reduce repetitive neck postures.

Ideal dual monitor positioning for 80/20 use

If you use both monitors equally (50/50 use) position both monitors side by side and angled inwards. Your seated position should be in between both screens. This will reduce repetitive neck postures.

Idea dual monitor positioning for 50/50 use

Using Three Monitors

If using three screens at the workstation, place your main screen in front of your seated position. Place you two additional screens on either side of this central screen and turn them in toward your seated position.

Ideal triple monitor positioning

Remember, the monitors should be set up so you can see the most amount of the screen with the minimum neck movement. Correct positioning will reduce adverse postures and repetitive movements, thus reducing the risk of developing musculoskeletal discomfort.

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