The Ideal Home Office – Part 2 – Monitor Position & Size

I’d like to share 20 tips about computer monitor setups that have worked well for me and might be helpful for you. Special thanks to Alvin Pingol for his professional advice and contributions. Here are the first 5 suggestions.

1. For your back and shoulders, avoid using a laptop by itself. Connect to an external monitor or put your laptop on a stand and use an external keyboard and mouse. It might seem awkward to do this in a cafe, until the attractive barista walks over and says: “I see you value ergonomics and taking care of yourself. Care to go out with me sometime?”*

    2. The sweet spot for me is 2 monitors (1 is no longer enough, and 3 is too many). Previously, I had 3 monitors with the center monitor acting as a pivot point (see photo). I only ever used 2 at a time with the center connected to both my work PC and my personal PC. This worked okay, but used a lot of desk space and required manual input switching.

    3. Your monitor might be too small. I prefer at least 24 inches (measure screen diagonally for one bottom corner to the opposite top corner). Currently my primary monitor is 32” and secondary is 27” and I’m happy with both. My secondary monitor can rotate 90 degrees, which is handy for editing portrait photography and reading documents.

    4. Your monitor might be too close. I use my cinema rule: sit near the center and eye level with the middle of the screen. If I need to turn my head left, right, up, or down to see everything on the primary screen, then I am too close. Pushing the monitor farther back on your desk can help reduce eyestrain. (Bonus related tip: taking breaks to look out a window or at a more distant object can give your eyes a chance to rest and reset).

    5. Now that the monitor is farther away, adjust the text/font and app size in your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) settings so that you don’t have to squint or lean forward to read. This can mean increasing size from 100 to 200 or 300 percent. I still keep the display resolution at the highest setting; I want all the pixels I paid for! 1440p to 4K recommended. Note: If you’re using a Mac, you’ll want to download a tool called BetterDisplay, which allows you to set scale values beyond the binary choice of 100 or 200% while keeping your full resolution, just like a Windows user.

      *Fictional conversation. Dating opportunities not guaranteed.

      Bonus Tip from Colour Scientist, Michael Parsons: “As well as size I’d suggest to pay attention to pixel pitch (pixel size or density). Higher resolutions (UHD/4K) at 27-32” can be very hard to resolve from a typical seated position, whilst this can be mitigated with OS settings to some degree as you highlighted, with images it can be a bit of a compromise between being able to view the full image and being able to resolve detail at 1:1.”

      Photo Note: This was my WFH office setup from a few years ago.

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