Ergonomics of Your Computer Work Area

We often sit in one position, behind a computer, for hours on end, for both work and pleasure. Be sure your computer work area is setup to cause as little strain to your back and muscles as possible.

When you set-up your work area, think about three things:

  1. How close (or far away) do you have to be to see what you are working on?

  2. What is the most area you can see without bending your neck?

  3. Without moving your upper body, how much room do you have to spread your equipment and supplies and still see them?

These three things will affect your sitting posture and the forces placed on your back and neck.

Try to set your computer work area up so you don’t have to change your sitting position once it is correctly established. We don’t advocate becoming inflexible; this position should be comfortable!

Setting Up Your Computer Work Area

Your sitting posture:

  1. Your legs and back should be at a 90-degree angle.

  2. The back of your chair should lift and support your lower back.

  3. Your head should remain erect.

The height of your chair:

  1. Your arm from the elbow to the heel of your palm should remain level while allowing you use the computer keyboard.

  2. The heel of your palm should be level with the tabletop where your keyboard is placed or level with the keyboard itself.

  3. Your feet should be flat on the floor.

Your line of sight:

  1. While in the proper sitting posture (see above), you should be able to look straight out at the top of your computer screen and be able to drop your eyes (not your head) to look at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Any work you are transcribing or referencing should ideally be in this same line of sight either slightly to the right or to the left of the computer screen.

Adjusting Your Work Area

Unfortunately not all computer work areas can be tailored to us as individuals. There are a few simple, inexpensive adjustments that can be made to almost any computer work area. The best way to know if it is working is ask yourself, “Am I Comfortable?”


Your body is meant to move instead of remaining in fixed positions. Take frequent short breaks to stretch or walk around your desk before sitting back down. These breaks should occur every hour or so. If you have trouble remembering set a timer to remind you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My keyboard is too high.

A: Raise your chair. If your upper legs are no longer on a 90-degree angle to your body use a footstool to raise your legs.

Q: My keyboard is too low.

A: Lower your chair.

Q: My monitor is too high.

A: Raise your chair. If your upper legs are no longer on a 90-degree angle to your body use a footstool to raise your legs.

Q: My monitor is too low.

A: Lower your chair or you can purchase a monitor stand. There are several varieties available at computer stores. Metropolitan phone books also work well if you’re not into style.

Q: My chair is too high, and I can’t lower it.

A: Use a footstool, and if it is possible raise the computer.

Q: My chair is too low and I can’t raise it.

A: A wrist-rest may be of help, but try to get another chair.

Q: I have to turn my head to see the paper I’m working on.

A: There are a wide variety of document holders available.