How To Measure A Desk – A Step By Step Guide

Measuring a desk is a key step in getting a new desk in your room and making the most of your space. If you have a small or awkward area that needs to be filled, measuring twice here will help you find a desk that works without any guesswork. 

As we walk you through how to measure a desk in this article, we’ll also talk about how each dimension is important to a desk’s function. 

This way you will get the most functional desk for the footprint you have available. Let’s get to measuring. 

If you are curious about what the average desks measure, check out our article on average desk dimensions

Tools Needed

Fortunately, all we will need to measure a desk is a normal tape measure. I recommend one that can measure up to 8 – 10 feet. 

10 feet is over what’s needed for the purposes of desk measurements, but it is also not so large that you pay more than necessary. Most of us have one of these laying around the house or in the garage. 

CRAFTSMAN 9-Foot Tape Measure

This 9-ft long tape measure features a built-in stainless steel bottle opener for added convenience. It also has a built-in magnet for easy storage on a refrigerator or metal toolbox. The rubber over mold ensures a firm grip at all times.

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How Desks Are Measured

how desks are measured infographic

Now let’s talk about the three big dimensions you need to worry about when measuring a desk. 

Step 1 – Width of a Desk

I consider the width of a desk to be the most important dimension of a desk. This is also where you’ll see the largest range of measurements as well. 

The industry seems to agree that the width measurement is the most important of all desk measurements. If you take a quick look at Amazon, you’ll see that the desk width is actually included in the title of the listing. 

Measure the top of the desk surface from left to right (or right to left). This is the desk’s width dimension.

Here is what you should be thinking about when it comes to desk width.

Width Available In Your Space

We all have limits to what desk size can actually fit in our space. This should be the first consideration before deciding on a desk width. 

Think about the space you have available, and if you want that space shared with other items. Keep in mind what space is dedicated to the desk alone. 

What’s On Your Desk

Take a moment to think about what you would want to fit on your desk that can be limited by width. If you want a sweet ultrawide monitor and speakers and either side, add up those width dimensions. Ensure it fits within the space you have available from the step above. 

I like to go wider if possible. A wider desk means more room for a desk organizer, my laptop to be sitting on the side, dual monitors, and so on. 

Think about what you have on your desk now, and what you would like to have on your desk in the future. Some desks can be expensive and thinking about this up front will ensure this investment goes a long way.

If you have multiple monitors, think about how much width they would need. We have dedicated guides on how much space you need for double monitor setups, and desk width for triple monitors as well. 

Step 2 – Depth of a Desk

Now that we have desk width out of the way, let’s talk about a desk’s depth measurement. This is another very important measurement that defines the total available space on your desk. 

To make this measurement, measure the top surface of the desk from the back side all the way to the front. 

Desk Depth Measurements (1)

We have a dedicated article on how to find the best desk depth for you. You’ll see that there are a lot more considerations than you would expect. 

When deciding on what desk depth is right for you, think about the following. 


If you are someone who likes to rest your elbows on a table when typing, you might find a very shallow desk uncomfortable. 

Think about what types of desks are comfortable for the way you work. I find it very uncomfortable when I am using a desk where the keyboard is at the very edge of the table. 

Wrist rest space is critical for long hours at a computer. 

Depth Available In Your Space

When we start talking about desk depth, we have to start considering how much space we are leaving for ourselves while sitting in our chairs. 

We recently talked about what space you should have behind your desk in this article. The consensus was that about 3 feet is needed for your chair, but this is highly dependent on the type of chair you have, and how long your legs are. 

If you have a large chair or have long legs, you might want more free space behind your desk. Especially if you’re in a tight space, you might have to make your desk depth a bit smaller to accommodate being comfortable in your chair. 

If you want to know what an average chair size is to keep that room available, checkout our article on average chair dimensions

What’s On Your Desk

Once again, we’re going to have to think about what we would like at our desks. But instead of thinking about things that contribute to a desk’s width, we have to think in terms of depth. 

That means the depth needed for different items. For example, your keyboard & mouse, a monitor with a monitor stand, and a laptop stand. Think about all the items that take up a significant depth. 

If you have a huge monitor, you might want a deeper desk so you can actually enjoy that monitor. We have a dedicated article on desk depth vs monitor size

Of course, keep in mind your comfort at your desk. Ensure your hands have enough room to handle your keyboard and mouse. 

Step 3 – Height of a Desk

We made it to the final dimension, desk height!

To measure desk height, extend your tape measure between the floor and the top surface of the desk. 

Unfortunately, the height of a typical desk is not ideal for everyone. In fact, most desks are a bit too tall for people. Most desks come in around 29 inches in height. 

According to this desk height calculator, a 29-inch desk is for people over 6 feet!

Ideally, you would use the desk height calculator and just get the perfect-sized desk. Because that is pretty unlikely due to the average desk heights out there, let’s talk about ways you can approach this problem.

Desk Too Tall?

If your desk is too tall, raise your chair so your arms are in a comfortable position relative to the top of your desk. If your feet are dangling, use a footrest like this:

CushZone Under Desk Foot Rest

This CushZone footrest provides a comfortable sitting position, it elevates your legs which can improve blood circulation in the legs. It features an adjustable height, high-quality foam, and a non-slip and machine-washable cover.

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This is the exact footrest I use because my IKEA Alex desk setup is a bit too tall for me. 

Desk Too Short?

If your desk is too short, there are ways to make your desk taller. Furniture risers and such are a very common product that can help you dial in your desk setup. 

Standing Desks

If you have the budget, a standing desk takes care of any desk height problem. Standing desks not only let you stand up, but they also let you get the perfect sitting desk height.

This is why we recommend standing desks in our article on the best desks for tall people

If you want to know what else you should consider before getting a standing desk, check out our article on if standing desks are worth it.

More To Think About Before Buying A Desk

To help you get the most prepared for a potential new desk, here are a few more things that are worth keeping in mind before buying a desk. 

Desk Thickness

Check out our dedicated article on how thick desks should typically be.

Desk clamping mounts are super popular these days. You can mount your monitor while using very little desk space, a high-quality microphone, and even a laptop stand. 

The problem a lot of people run into is that sometimes desks are too thick or too weak to use these desk clamp mounts. 

I highly recommend a desk that is strong and has a thickness between 1 to 3 inches. This will ensure it is compatible with a ton of desk-mountable accessories. 

I personally can’t live without a desk clamp monitor mount. You will thank me later if you get a desk with a compatible strength and thickness. 


Speaking of desk strength directly takes us to material types for desktops. 

There are so many materials to choose from when desk shopping, and it’s important to know what you are actually getting. Laminate, engineered wood, bamboo? What is good enough? What is too expensive? 

We break all of that down in our article on everything you need to know about desk materials


Desks come in a huge range of costs. You can get this IKEA LINNMON for $50, or a fancy standing desk from Uplift for $2000. 

Here is a guide on how much desks typically cost, and what you should spend yourself. 

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!