Setting up your computer workstation: Sequence of adjustments

Revised 2021 04 30

A common definition of ergonomics is to fit the task to the person. Your first step should be to adjust your chair to create your ideal working posture, as described in:
In the above post, you learned about your ideal typing posture. After setting up the rest of the workstation, make note of adjustments that forced you away from that ideal posture (e.g. lean forward, move elbow away from body, etc). You can find more advice about what to do in those situations in the Links section at the bottom of this page.


1. Keyboard & mouse support surface

  • If you primarily look at the keyboard when you type, you will reduce neck strain with the support surface higher than what is described below
  • If you primarily look at the screen when you type:
    • Set the support surface slope/tilt [if adjustable] so it is parallel to the slope of your forearms
    • Set the support surface height at or slightly below the level of your elbows or armrests
  • When you reach for your mouse and keyboard, do you have to lean forward, move your elbow away from your body, etc?
    • If so, avoid making any changes to your chair because it was set up to support your ideal typing posture.
    • Double check the position of your support surfaces or the problem may be the position of your keyboard or mouse. More advice about that is in the next section.
  • Are your chair armrests hitting your desk?
    • They may need to be removed or replaced.
If the support surface is still too high or not adjustable, find a way to lower it or raise your seat and get a footrest.

Ideally, you should not have to raise your armrests from what you established earlier.

You will find some ideas at the link below:
If the support surface is too low, find a way to raise it.

Lowering your seat from what you established earlier, may cause the lumbar spine to deviate from it's natural curve.


2. Keyboard & mouse

  • Move the keyboard side to side so that the middle of the space bar is in line with your belly button
  • Extend or retract keyboard legs as necessary to maintain straight wrists
  • Keep the mouse as close as possible to the keyboard
  • When you reach for your mouse and keyboard, do you have to lean forward, move your elbow away from your body, etc?
    • If so, avoid making any changes to your chair because it was set up to support your ideal typing posture.
    • Try to remove anything that is sitting between you and your keyboard and mouse [e.g. wrist rest]
    • If your keyboard has a large bezel [the frame between the front edge of the keyboard and where the keys are], consider replacing it with a keyboard with a narrower bezel.
  • Are your chair armrests hitting your desk?
    • They may need to be removed or replaced.

3. Monitor position (Height, Angle, Viewing Distance)

  • Find your most comfortable head position with your eyes closed.
  • When you open your eyes, look at the top, bottom, left & right sides of your screen.
  • You should be able to do that with comfortable eye movements and not having to move your head away from the eyes closed position. If not, adjust your monitor position.
  • Also, test different viewing distances and font sizes to maximize readability.
  • Ideally, your posture should be such that a straight line passes through the ears, shoulders and hips
  • Avoid moving your chair backwards to increase the distance between your eyes and the screen. 
    • Find another way to move the screen further away or
    • Perhaps you need glasses or a change in your prescription.
  • Are your chair armrests hitting your desk?
    • They may need to be removed or replaced.

Links