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Conventional ergonomics guides suggest aligning the top of the monitor to where the operator looks at straight on. It seems doubtful that that still applies to today's 24" and 30" and larger displays. What was the reasoning behind that rule? What's the correct way to position a huge display?

Addendum: Would anyone have a link to research confirming the "2/3 up" rule?

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5 Answers 5

Actually, the rule of thumb is to align your eyes (straight ahead) to about 3/4 up the height of viewable area of the screen. That is, about 1/4 of the screen is above eye-level, the rest is below and this should apply to any reasonable screen size.

Beyond that rule of thumb, the bottom of the screen should not be more than 60 degrees below the straight ahead horizontal viewing angle.

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Actually this can cause neck stiffness and pain, it's best to have your chin no higher than the bottom of the monitor, which is only a couple iches lower than your suggestion. I have a very tall monitor so my eyes are below the 1/2 mark. Making this change helped my next a lot. –  TravisO Dec 31 '08 at 16:30

Here's what OSHA thinks:

  • The top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level. The center of the computer monitor should normally be located 15 to 20 degrees below horizontal eye level (Figure 6).

  • The entire visual area of the display screen should be located so the downward viewing angle is never greater than 60 degrees when you are in any of the four reference postures. In the reclining posture the straight forward line of sight will not be parallel with the floor, which may increase the downward viewing angle. Using very large monitors also may increase the angle.

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+1 OSHA links. :) –  fennec Sep 21 '10 at 21:15

I personally have followed all of the standard advice, most of it listed above, but what was the ultimate solution was paying attention to if I slouch or not and correcting it.

The algorithm was: If I am slouching, even just a little bit, then I raise the monitor and repeat. There's a subtle but important difference than following suit to standards: I want the monitor height to not only be proper for when I sit straight, but I want it to promote me to sit straight.

The end results were my 22" monitors were positioned so my eye-level, while sitting straight, was about 1/3rd the way down the screen. The top of the screens were well above eye-level. Before, when the top of the screens matched my eye-level, I was still slouching; They were not high enough.

Now that I am done, the monitors feel very high off my desk. People make fun of how high they are.

It created another problem: I want to use arms to hold the monitors, instead of risers which take up all my desk room, and I have not been able to find any inexpensive ones that raise this high. The final height is about 11" off my desk. But, be aware that my desk surface is the level of my keyboard; I have no keyboard tray. My seat is fixed at a height which makes this ergonomically proper.

Hope this bit of personal experience helps.

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I have three 20" LCD's left to right no gaps between the bezels. I find looking left or right more than 1/2 of those outer screen gives me a pain in my neck. For instance I often move the browser to the left screen (using nvidia hotkeys I setup CTRL-1,2,or3) to read an article or documentation. If I have to stay on that page more than about 30seconds my neck starts to have pain. Maybe it's because I sit about 18" away from the main screen. But I think there is a limit to how far you can reasonable turn your head left or right for a period of time. So what I try to do is have the browser use the right 1/2 of the left monitor so I don't have so far to turn.

I'm waiting for the 30" LCD's to come down as I think a single 30" with a decent windows manager will do just as well. Hope this was helpful. Although it was not scientific, just my own experience.

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Are your three screens sitting with the outers turned in? As I have the same setup and no issues. –  CaffGeek Aug 24 '10 at 16:28

I have a couple of large displays (24" I think) at work. They were originally aligned to the top of my vision, and I actually found it to be kind of painful. I found myself looking at things on the bottom of the screen frequently, (taskbar, dock, status bar, clock, whatever), which meant my head was hanging down. I have a 20" display at home, where I don't have this problem.

I think it makes more sense to have your eyes aligned about 2/3 of the way up the display. This means you don't have to look too far up or down.

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It's better to look slightly up than to look slightly down. Looking down will lead to bad posture and cause you to hunch over. It's best to lay back in your chair at a very slight upward angle. –  TravisO Dec 31 '08 at 16:31

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