Monitor Selection, Placement and Common Concerns

Monitor Location

Place the monitor directly in front of you. You should not have to look to the left or right to view material on the screen. It is very important to consider viewing distance (see below) when considering purchase of a new monitor. Many monitors are now 20 or more inches deep and do not fit on on credenzas or typing returns without the screen being overly close to the user. Flat monitors may offer solutions to areas with limited space.

Monitor height

Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level. Your monitor position should allow your head to be balanced comfortably over your shoulders. It should not cause you to bend your neck forward or backward uncomfortably or repeatedly. You may find it more comfortable to position the monitor so that the top line of text is just below your eye height. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.

Often people place their monitor on top of the CPU unit. This often places the monitor too high. You may want to move the monitor to the desktop.

If you wear bifocal, trifocal, or progressive lens glasses it’s especially important to properly adjust your monitor height. It may need to be even lower than described above to bring the screen into focus without tipping your head. You may want to consider using glasses that are specially made for computer use.

Monitor distance

The monitor should be approximately an arms length away. To determine a comfortable viewing distance, stretch your arm toward the monitor and notice the location of your knuckles. Place your monitor near that location. You should be able to clearly see the text on your monitor. Viewing Distance at Computer Workstations – from WorkPlace Ergonomics, Sept./Oct. 1996 provides a good discussion of monitor distance. Basic guidance is you can be too close to a monitor but as long as you can read comfortably, you can’t be too far.

Brightness and Contrast

Dark characters on a light background generally provide the most comfortable reading combination. Adjust the monitor’s brightness and contrast controls to enhance readability. Clean your monitor regularly. Use a lint-free, non-abrasive cloth and a non-alcohol, neutral, non-abrasive cleaning solution or glass cleaner to minimize dust.

Monitor Size and Resolution

Inappropriate monitor resolution can affect eye strain and productivity. The PC Guide webpage provides a good reference and A Table of Monitor Size and Matching Screen Resolution.