Why Proper Monitor Height Is Critical & How To Find It

The ideal monitor height is critical to working comfortably on any computer. This is not limited to just working on computers. Gaming and other leisurely activities will be much more enjoyable and comfortable if your monitor is at the ideal height. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss the ideal monitor height. We won’t stop there, though. There is a lot more involved with monitor comfort. 

We’ll talk about all aspects of monitor comfort such as the ideal monitor distance, accessories that keep your monitor flexible, how to reduce eye strain, reduce neck pain, and more!

What is the ideal monitor height for the best ergonomics? 

A proper ergonomic monitor height is at or slightly below eye level while sitting upright (or standing) with a neutral posture. This is directly from the experts at the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), an agency of the US Department of Labor.

Let’s dig into that recommendation more and the other aspects of monitor comfort. 

What Makes A Monitor Height Ergonomic?

When dialing in your perfect monitor height, you need to keep the following in mind. 

Eye Level Or Below

It is always recommended that the top of your monitor is at or slightly below eye level. OSHA also suggests that the center of your screen should be 15-20 degrees below your horizontal eye view

Can A Monitor Be Too High?

A monitor that is placed too high forces you to tilt your head and neck backward, quickly leading to a strainful posture. OSHA also warns that too high or low of a monitor will result in your shoulders and back being placed in awkward and strained positions as well. 

Neutral Posture

A monitor at eye level is still no good if you are sitting or standing with bad posture. Bad posture affects your viewing height so you don’t want to adjust your monitor height to your nonideal posture. 

A hunched posture will make you think that your monitor is at the right height when it actually might be too low. 

When setting up your monitor height, make sure you are sitting (or standing) in a neutral and upright posture. A monitor that is too low will encourage you to hunch over and keep a bad working position. 

Using Monitor Height Calculators

There are a ton of monitor height calculators out there such as this calculator from Ergotron and this calculator from Omni Calculator

These are both great resources for general desk ergonomics. You simply tell the calculator your height, and it outputs the ideal estimated desk height, chair height, and monitor height. 

The problem with these calculators is that they measure monitor height from the floor. That’s not a very realistic way to position your monitor as it is sitting on your desk. 

You will have to subtract the monitor height from the desk height to actually get the correct measurement. 

The other problem with these calculators is that they are estimates. Some people have longer legs or longer torsos, so the ideal value is actually different from person to person, even if they have the same height. 

Use these calculators as a starting point, and use the tips above on eye position and posture to dial in your monitor height perfectly to your body. 

Horizontal Monitor Position

Now we have a good idea of the vertical location of our monitors, what about the horizontal location? This may seem obvious, but you want your monitor to be directly in front of you.

Some folks use a monitor screen that is off to the side if it’s not their primary working tool. The downside to having a monitor off to the side is that you can easily fatigue your neck by needing to turn your head every time you look at your monitor. 

OSHA recommends positioning your monitor no further than a 35-degree head turn away. 

To estimate this, remember that 90 degrees is directly to your left or right. Halfway there is 45 degrees, so 35 degrees will be a bit further inwards.

Remember, ideally, your monitor should be directly in front of you, but if you have to have it to one side, keep it inside 35 degrees. 

Finding The Ideal Monitor Distance

At this point, we should have a pretty dialed-in monitor height. But that’s not the end of having a comfortable monitor setup. Your monitor’s distance matters as well. 

A monitor that is too far away can force you to hunch over so you can see the contents of the screen better. This is bad for posture. Being too close to a monitor can easily result in heavy eye strain. 

What is the ideal monitor distance? 

OSHA recommends placing your monitor 20 – 40 inches (50 – 100 cm) away from your eyes when sitting or standing with proper posture. 

This is a pretty big range though. Another rule of thumb is to keep your monitor an arm’s length away from you. Stretch out your arm while sitting in a normal posture, and place your screen at your fingertips. This usually lands between 20-40 inches.  

Sometimes your desk depth might limit you from placing your monitor in a proper position. Also, the size of your monitor could play a role in how far back you need it. We cover these topics in our article on desk depth for different monitor sizes

If you find your desk is not deep enough, consider using a clamp on keyboard tray. These attach to your desk and will position you a little further back. We have an article on keyboard trays for thick desks here

VIVO Under Desk Pull Out Keyboard Tray

This under-desk keyboard tray saves desk space and holds your keyboard, mouse, and small accessories below your desk. It easily slides in and out, extending a maximum of 8.5" from the edge of your desk. The tray is attached with C-clamps that hold everything in place and are easily adjustable. (The tray is not compatible with desktops that have beveled edges.)

Check Price on Amazon

Scaling Your Computer Display

If you place your monitor an arm’s length away and the text is now too small, or too large, you have to scale your computer display. 

This means making the actual contents of your computer either larger or smaller so you can comfortably view and read what’s on your computer. 

Here is how you scale your display on Windows computers. And here is how to scale your display on Apple computers.

You shouldn’t need to squint, lean forward, or lean backward to properly see what’s on your screen. That will lead to posture issues and thus lead to discomfort at your desk. 

Accessories Get The Proper Monitor Height

If you go to adjust your monitor height and find that there is no included height adjustment, don’t panic. Most monitors come with a height-adjustable stand, but not all of them.

Here are some ways you can adjust the height of your monitor, even if it doesn’t have a height-adjustable stand. 

Use Some Books

If you need your monitor to be taller and at zero cost, place some books under your fixed-height monitor. I recommend using large and heavy books, such as textbooks. 

Larger books will be more stable as the entire monitor stand will be supported. Remember to only add as much as you need so that the top of your monitor is at or below eye level. 

Also, make sure that these are not books that you use regularly, that will get annoying.

This option is great because it costs zero dollars and you can get the perfect monitor height within a few minutes. 

However, using a stack of books to support your monitor can be a little bit…let’s say, unpolished of a look. We’re going to get into a little bit more aesthetically pleasing solutions here. After all, you want to love the look of your desk!

Use A Monitor Shelf

Monitor shelves are perfect desk accessories for simply lifting up your monitor. They are also available in a ton of different styles and budgets. 

You can get very simple monitor risers that are very affordable and barebone, or you can spend up to $200 for a fancy monitor shelf made from solid wood. 

Laptop with monitor shelf behind it

If you have a tough time justifying the cost, check out our article on if monitor shelves are worth it

Another thing to keep in mind here is that most monitor shelves and risers are fixed in height. That means you need to try and measure exactly what you need before buying. 

A good way to do this is to measure the distance between the top of your monitor, and your horizontal eye level that we talked about earlier. This distance is exactly how tall your monitor shelf needs to be. It’s okay to purchase a shelf that is just slightly shorter than this measurement. 

Here are some monitor shelf recommendations:

Giikin Vintage Wood Monitor Stand Riser, 17.7 Inch Desktop Shelf Storage Organizer, Ergonomic Desk & Tabletop Organizer Desktop Stand for Laptop, Computer, MacBook, Notebook, PC(Dark Brown)
  • 【Perfect design】The Dimensions of monitor stand: 17.7”L X 9”W X 5.5”H. Plenty of storage space under to keep game console, controllers, books papers, put...
  • 【Stable Structure】Crafted of premium quality heavy-duty particle board. Features rustic and aesthetic wood grain which matches perfectly with the black matte...
  • 【Improved Ergonomics】Raise computer monitor, notebook or any device by 4.7 inches off the desk to create a comfortable viewing position and a healthier sitting...
  • 【Multifuctional Organizer】The Desktop Shelf Storage Organizer has powerful storage function of keeping the table clean. Function as computer stand riser, laptop stand...
Check Price on Amazon

Use A VESA Monitor Mount

This last recommendation is actually my personal preference. This involves ditching the factory stand that came with your monitor and replacing it with a much more flexible solution: desk clamping monitor arms.

HUANUO Single Monitor Mount, 13 to 30 Inch Gas Spring Monitor Arm, Adjustable Stand, Vesa Mount with Clamp and Grommet Base – Fits 4.4 to 14.3lbs LCD Computer Monitors
  • Great Adaptability: This HUANUO single monitor arm fits 13-32 inch monitors, holds 4.4-19.8 lbs, suitable for VESA patterns of 75x75mm & 100x100mm. This monitor mount is...
  • Full Adjustable: This PC monitor stand can remain completely stable at any angle without any extra work. Compared with other single monitor arm adjustment methods, huanuo...
  • 80% Sturdier Than Others: At HUANUO, we focus on improving the strength and stability of our single monitor stand. The single desk monitor mount uses automotive-grade gas...
  • Installed In 3 Minutes: The 1-piece design monitor arm simplifies the installation, so all necessary hardware is included; The setup can be completed in 3 minutes. Step...
Check Price on Amazon

The first step before purchasing a VESA monitor mount is ensuring that your monitor is VESA compatible. If you are not familiar with the VESA mounting standard, check out our VESA 101 article here

Basically, this is a set of mounting holes that most manufacturers include on the back of monitors these days. These mounting holes let us remove the factory stand and use a different stand. 

VESA Monitor Mounting back plate

If you find that your monitor is not VESA compatible, there are still ways to mount monitors without VESA holes

So why is this the preferred method? Turns out there are a bunch of reasons. 

gas spring monitor arm

Monitor mounts give you way more desk space as they are clamp-on solutions. This means you swap out your factory monitor stand that has a large base with a much smaller clamping area.

I love making space on my desk, and that’s why I always have a monitor table mounted these days. 

Monitor mounts also give you a TON of positional control. You can adjust almost all degrees of freedom of your monitor with these mounts. That means you will be able to dial in the perfect monitor height easily.

No need to take any measurements at all, or use the perfect thickness books. 

Check out our dedicated article if you want a more in-depth read on the benefits of monitor mounts. Also, check out our article on a direct comparison of monitor mounts vs monitor shelves.

Addressing Neck Pain With Monitor Height

Neck pain is a common result of not having a proper monitor height and posture. I used to never think about these things until I started feeling uncomfortable.

If you have neck pain, ensure you dial in the following monitor positions.

  • Monitor Height
  • Monitor Distance
  • Off-Center Monitor Angle

All of these can result in neck pain and poor posture. Let’s recap how to address each of these monitor positions to ease any neck pain. 

  • Ensure your monitor is at or slightly below eye level while in a comfortable and neutral posture. 
  • Your monitor should roughly be an arm’s length away with a properly scaled screen that is easy to read in a neutral posture. 
  • Your monitor should not be in a position such that you need to rotate your neck over 35 degrees to see it. 

There is more to just monitor position that can result in neck pain. Check out this article on other sources of neck pain when sitting at your desk. 

Proper Laptop Screen Height Setup

If you’re a heavy laptop user, you have a different obstacle when it comes to addressing the height of your screen.  Laptops are meant to be ultra-portable. Due to this, they have no real ergonomic qualities at all.  

To get a laptop at the ideal screen height, you will have to raise it up considerably. 

Raise Your Laptop’s Height

You can use the tip we talked about above and place your laptop on some books until you get it to the correct height. 

Remember we want the top of our laptop screen to be at or slightly below our horizontal eye level. 

Laptop Stand

If you want a better solution than books, I highly recommend either laptop stands, or laptop arms that clamp to your desk.

BESIGN LS10 Aluminum Laptop Stand

The Besign LS10 Laptop Stand is adjustable, sturdy, and compatible with laptops up to 13 lbs. Its ergonomic design helps reduce neck fatigue, while the aluminum body keeps your laptop cool and stable.

Check Price on Amazon
FLEXIMOUNTS 2-in-1 Monitor Arm Laptop Mount Stand Swivel Gas Spring LCD Arm Height Adjustable Desk Mounts for 10''-24' Monitor/ 11-17.3 inches Notebook
  • Suitable Size of Laptop for the Monitor : 10.1-17.3 inches. Suitable Screen Size for Monitor : 10-24 inches.
  • Laptop Mount Weight Capacity: 1.1-8.8 lbs. Monitor Mount Weight Capacity: 3.3-11 lbs.
  • Premium Gas Springs Hovering System. Durable hardware supports clamp or grommet installation.
  • Flexible Aircraft-Grade Arm. 360º horizontal free rotation. Tilt angle:-85°-15°.
Check Price on Amazon

I have used both, and they work great to lift your computer to an appropriate working height. I have an article comparing laptop stands to laptop arms here.

Laptop Stand vs Laptop Arms (9)

My only recommendation is to get one that is easily height adjustable. You want to be able to dial in your perfect laptop screen height. 

Use Wireless Peripherals

The next problem we run into is that our laptop’s keyboard and trackpad are way too high for comfortable use. The solution here is to get a simple wireless keyboard and mouse set. 

I would avoid any wired mouse and keyboards because one snag can pull your precious laptop down from the elevated height. It’s a scary thought that keeps me away from wires. 

Wireless keyboard and mouse sets are very affordable from reputable companies like Logitech. 

Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard And Mouse

The MK270 combo wireless keyboard and mouse features a plug-and-play USB receiver, a comfortable typing experience, a spill-resistant design, durable keys, sturdy tilt legs, and a comfortable compact wireless mouse with long battery life.


Check Price on Amazon

Or you can even go the opposite direction and get their high-end keyboard and mouse for a huge productivity boost. I personally own the MX Keys and MX Master 3 set shown below, and I can’t go back to simpler devices. 

Desk Mat MX Keys MX Master 3
Premium Pick
Logitech MX Keys Advanced Backlit Keyboard

This keyboard has perfect stroke keys for satisfying feedback, smart illumination, and hand proximity detection. It's comfortable, stable, and customizable. It stays powered up to 10 days on a full charge, or up to 5 months with backlighting turned off. Flow cross-computer control allows for typing on multiple computers in one workflow.

Check Price on Amazon
Logitech MX Master 3S – Wireless Performance Mouse
4.7
Pros:
  • Ergonomic shape for all-day comfort
  • High density tracking sensor
  • Quiet clicks (improvement over MX 3)
  • Magspeed scroll wheel
  • High level of customization & shortcuts
  • Three computer memory settings
Cons:
  • Pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Check Price on Amazon

These laptop setup tips are not just my own opinion, check out this video by Kevin Butler, a professional Ergonomist. You’ll notice he shares the same tips. 

Photo of author

Dasun

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!