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Visual Display


Monitors and laptops
Positioning your monitor

A position away from a window is normally best, although there will still be some problems with reflections. You also need to be able to relax your eyes and stare into the distance so a nearby window is handy.

Setting up your screen

Most software and operating systems allow you to set the size of your text and the icons on screen to your own taste. Your monitor should be about an arm's-length away (50-80 cm) in your normal sitting position. 

The best position for a monitor is usually directly in front of you. Putting the monitor off-centre might cause muscle pain if you need to twist to view the screen. However, if you use the screen for occasional reference or data input, other work would occupy the privileged position directly in front of you. In such cases, a swivel chair or moveable monitor might be a better solution.

The top of your screen should be level with your eyes. This way your neck muscles are relaxed and your eyes can scan the data on the screen. You should not need to move your head up or down, or from side to side to examine the whole screen. Old phone books are useful for raising the monitor to eye level as few monitors are supplied with height adjusters. The screen should tilt very slightly upwards so that its surface is at right angles to your eyes. This way your eyes do not need to refocus as you move from top to bottom of the screen.

The perceived brightness from your monitor should be similar to the area directly behind it. The ideal is to match the contrast of the screen to the surrounding area. If there is a dramatic contrast your eyes need to work harder and adjust more, leading to fatigue. If left uncorrected, glare will cause discomfort, eyestrain and headaches. Try to reposition your monitor so that there is no glare on the screen.


Screen-mounted document holders attach to the side of the monitor and hold the document in the same plane. This is good for single sheets of paper or lightweight documents.
Freestanding document holders can support a book but take up desk space.

Using laptops on the move

Don't settle for the hotel desk and chair if they are too high. Use pillows to raise the seat. Libraries have been designed for note-takers rather than typists, so limit yourself to short bursts of typing. Your lap is always an option but you might need a tray or a briefcase to rest the laptop on so that it puts the keyboard in reach. Be careful not to bend your neck too far down.

Don't become a slave to the nearest power or phone socket. Invest in some new rechargeable batteries when the old ones won't hold charge and buy some power and modem extension cables.