Guide to the best computer desk height

Over the years, ergonomics has played an increasing role in modern office and and home workstation design. Building an ergonomic workstations relies on a number of elements, one of which is desk height. Desk height is crucial to comfort and healthy posture. Which is why is this post I will answer the question what is the best computer desk height? 

The best computer desk height is specific for each individual. User height determines chair seated height, desk height and monitor height. It is important to customize any workstation depending on each users needs. This table can help users customize desk height. Because desk height is specific to each individual I prefer investing in an adjustable height desk.

Because the goal of ergonomics is to make your workstation work for you, not the other way around, we will explore guidelines in building a customized ergonomic work station. From computer desk and chair height to monitor and mouse placement, all of these elements when stirred in an optimal mix will increase comfort and posture health.

Top rated adjustable height desk

Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...

Standard Desk Height

Although there is a degree of subjectivity when it comes to desk height comfort levels, standard, non-standing desk heights are typically pegged at 28-30” (72-76 centimeters). This is the suggested dimension of a typical work desk that you will find in general office furniture and fixtures stores like Ikea. 

However, studies emerged exposing pitfalls of using standard desk dimensions, suggesting that desk dimensions are not a “one size fits all” product; hence the increased popularity of ergonomics. 

Jonathan Puleio, an ergonomics expert, suggests that long working hours paired with poorly fitted workstations result in increased probability of developing musculoskeletal pains. 

According to Puleio, the standard 29.5” desk height is ergonomically fitting for a 6’4” male, which represents less than 5% of the US population. Despite this however, standardized desks are common in modern workplaces. 

To address this issue, an excellent option is to use an adjustable height desk to reap the ergonomic benefit of customizing desk height in conformance to your own height. We will explore adjustable standing desks in the other section. 

Best Computer Chair Height

The best desk height for one may be completely ill-fitting for another; hence determining what is right for you can be accomplished by following general ergonomic guidelines.

An excellent starting point is to first custom fit your work chair. Follow these tips to practice good chair ergonomics.

Setting up your chair: Guidelines

The first thing to do is to sit on your chair and simply roll up to your desk. Your chair along with the armrests should fit underneath the desk.

Upper body

  • Place your forearms on your desk surface
  • Elbows should be at an angle of 90 degrees relative to your shoulders
  • Adjust your chair to achieve the elbow angle of 90 degrees 

Lower body

To maximize ergonomic benefits, follow these guidelines: 

  • Proper chair height is when your knees and hips are bend and angled at 90 degrees 
  • Feet should be planted on the floor 
  • If not, adjust your chair height accordingly

Seated Posture: Guidelines

After setting up your desk and chair, let us explore sitting positions for proper posture. Practicing excellent posture is very beneficial and easy to do:

  • Sit in an upright position ~ around 100-110 degrees 
  • Sit all the way to the back of your chair and press your lower back against it 
    •  Most chairs have an inward curve at the bottom back portion. That is constructed with ergonomics in mind to give support to your lower back
  • Keep your back and shoulder straight but not stiff
  • Distribute weight evenly on both hips 

Tip: if your chair does not come with a back support, place a rolled-up towel to support the curve of your lower back 

Nebraska Spine Hospital Sitting Posture test:

  • Sit up as straight as you can
  • Accentuate your spine then hold 
  • After a few seconds, release in a natural, comfortable position — That is proper sitting posture

Feet Position: Guidelines

  • Keep feet planted flat on the floor 
  • Use a stool or a pile of books to compromise for desk/chair height inconsistencies

Armrest Height: Guidelines

  • Rule of Thumb: arm rest should be at the same height of your bent elbow
  • Use your shoulders as a guide: if shoulders are unnaturally in a “shrugged” position, arm rest height is set too high. If it is slumping, arm rest is too low. 
  • Forearms should be supported equally on both sides of the armrest
  • Ensure that elbows are maintained at 90 degrees, similar to chair ergonomic guidelines above

If you are looking for an comfortable ergonomic desk chair click the link to read my suggestions for the best desk chairs.

Best Computer Desk Height

Setting up your desk: Guidelines

Adjusting your work desk will entail better results once your work chair is at its optimal level. Make sure to read through the previous section first before proceeding with this section.

Best computer desk height table: Finding the best desk height for you

Because finding the best computer desk height is a function of a person’s own height, it’s best to refer to Ergotron’s Workspace Desk calculator. This helpful aid calibrates and suggests desk dimensions based on your selected height. 

User height (cm/inches)Seat height 
Desk height 
Monitor height (eye level) 
Standing desk height 
Standing desk monitor height (eye level) 
152 / 59.8440 / 15.7558 / 22.8309 / 42.9198 / 38.58145 / 57.09
155 / 61.0240 / 15.7559 / 23.23111 / 43.70100 / 39.37147 / 57.87
157 / 61.8141 / 16.1460 / 23.62113 / 44.48102 / 40.16150 / 59.05
160 / 62.9941 / 16.1461 / 24.01114 / 44.88103 / 40.55152 / 59.84
163 / 64.1742 / 16.5363 / 24.80116 / 45.67104 / 40.94155 / 61.02
165 / 64.9642 / 16.5364 / 25.20118 / 46.46107 / 42.13157 / 61.81
168 / 66.1443 / 16.9365 / 25.59120 / 47.24109 / 42.91160 / 62.99
170 / 66.9344 / 17.3266 / 25.98122 / 48.03110 / 43.31163 / 64.17
173 / 68.1145 / 17.7267 / 26.38124 / 48.82112 / 44.09165 / 64.96
175 / 68.9045 / 17.7268 / 26.77127 / 50114 / 44.88168 / 66.14
178 / 70.0846 / 18.1169 / 27.16128 / 50.39115 / 45.28170 / 66.93
180 / 70.8746 / 18.1171 / 27.95130 / 51.18117 / 46.06173 / 68.11
183 / 72.0547 / 18.5072 / 28.35132 / 51.97119 / 46.85175 / 68.90
185 / 72.8347 / 18.5073 / 28.74133 / 52.36120 / 47.24176 / 69.29
188 / 74.0248 / 18.9074 / 29.13135 / 53.15122 / 48.03178 / 70.08
191 / 75.2050 / 19.6975 / 29.53137 / 53.94124 / 48.82180 / 70.86

Height Adjustable Desks

Height adjustable desks are an excellent alternative over standard desks because of its highly, programmable functions that are customized to fit any height. These types of desk are ergonomically effective, no longer needing manual compromises of using book and block as platforms to raise your desks. 

Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...
Fully Jarvis Standing Desk 72" x 30" Natural Bamboo Top - Electric Adjustable Desk Height from 30"...

Seated Posture: Guidelines

A good rule of thumb to follow for proper posture and desk height is to make sure that your elbows are comfortably bent at 90 degrees while your forearms are equally leveled with the desk. 

Ideally, proper seated posture is when your spine is in its natural position. To help you achieve this, recline the back of your chair at 100-110 degrees. 

Feet Position: Guidelines

Proper feet position allows blood to flow naturally without impediment. Ensure that your feet lie flat on the floor. If your chair cannot be adjusted without compromising ergonomics, you can use a stool to provide a platform of footing. Ensure that your knees stay aligned or slightly lower with your hips. 

Arm Position: Guidelines

Your arms should be placed parallel to your desk. Observe the neutral position on your hands. It is best to keep them straight and not bent from the forearm. 

Another option is to place your forearms on the arm rest. Remember to follow the armrest guidelines in the previous section for optimal positioning. 

Elbows Position: Guidelines

Elbows should be bent at 90 degrees relative to your shoulder and positioned parallel to your forearms. 

What height should a standing desk be?

Many innovative workspaces use of standing desks. The use of standing desks gained popularity as studies emerged showing the ill-effects of prolonged sitting. 

Rule of thumb: Like sitting desks, elbow angle and placement will determine the perfect standing desk height for you. Remember that your elbow is maintained at an angle of 90 degrees.

Other guidelines to keep in mind

  • Make sure that your forearm and wrist are horizontal on the desk surface and position does not encourage bending at the wrist. Wrists should be in a neutral position. 
  • Stand on an even surface with your feet hip width apart  
  • Try to distribute your weight evenly on both sides of your hips

For a comprehensive guide to standing desks, refer to this previous post where I cover benefits, factors in determining the best height, and suggested desk model.

Correct monitor height and position

Finding the correct monitor height is crucial as incorrect positioning will cause discomfort to your neck and shoulder. 

Monitor height

Proper monitor height is when your eyes are at or below the level of the top viewable portion of your screen. This will exert less eye strain as it is easier for our eyes to look straight and scan down rather than scan up. This is what experts call “normal line of sight.” 

Tip: Tilting your head back while looking at your screen is a sign that the screen is positioned too high. 

Monitor position

Ideal monitor placement is roughly an arm’s length between your head and the screen. Approximately around 20-40 inches or 50-100 cm. 

General principle suggests that bigger monitors warrant more distance from the screen. This is based on the logic that moving further will widen the coverage of your visuals; hence, discouraging added strain on your neck and eyes when you look at different parts of your screen. 

Good monitor ergonomics also suggest a 10-20-degree upward tilt as to avoid adding stress to your neck. 

Best ergonomic mouse position

In this final section, we will explore another important element of ergonomic workspaces:  mouse positioning. 

The key to achieving optimal mouse position is to maintain the neutrality of your hands, arms and shoulders. Follow these guidelines:

  • Place your mouse directly in front of you, putting about a 5cm distance from the edge of the desk
  • Make sure that the mouse and keyboard are around the same height as your elbows and forearms, maintaining the 90-degree angle
    • It’s important that you keep the mouse and keyboard at the same height to avoid extra movements with your arms
  • Keep the mouse in proximity with the keyboard. This is to avoid making unnecessary movements when you transition from typing to moving your cursor with your mouse
    • Placing your mouse close to your keyboard is especially vital in those moments that require quick triggers on your trades.
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