Pain Free Working

Best Dual Monitor Arrangement for Ergonomics

In today’s workaholic crowd, many professionals work long hours in front of computer screens. As a result, the importance of creating an ergonomic and comfortable workspace cannot be overstated. 

Adopting a dual monitor setup is one effective way to enhance your productivity and reduce strain on your eyes and neck. In this article, we’ll explore and give a few tips about the best practices for arranging dual monitors to achieve optimal ergonomics.

Benefits of a Dual Monitor Setup

It’s becoming more common for employers to invest in multi-monitor options for their teams, and it’s not surprising given the drawbacks of working on a single screen. 

According to a study conducted by Jon Peddie Research in the US, a survey of more than 1,000 end users found that IT workers, designers, and engineers could boost their productivity by as much as 42% by using two screens or more compared to those using a single monitor. 

Most users will be constantly switching between tabs and web pages and minimizing different windows, which hampers productivity and makes desk time less efficient. 

If you spend more than 20% of your work time referencing multiple tabs or documents, the increased productivity from using two screens can outweigh the initial investment cost.

How Do I Arrange My Desk With Two Monitors?

A dual monitor ergonomic setup offers significant benefits, but it’s crucial to position your screens correctly to prevent musculoskeletal (MSK) issues like neck pain. Incorrect screen positioning is a major cause of workplace musculoskeletal problems. The arrangement of your dual monitors plays a crucial role in ensuring a comfortable and efficient workspace.

The most common configurations are side-by-side and stacked. In a side-by-side setup, the monitors are placed next to each other, providing a wide and immersive viewing experience. You can also opt to put your second display into a portrait display. 

If you use one screen significantly more than the other, place your main monitor directly in front of you with your secondary monitor at an angle to the side of your dominant eye. Most monitors should be 20-36″ away from your eyes.

Make sure to orient your mouse towards your main screen – this keeps your mouse out of the “far reach” zone which can cause repetitive strain injuries as your elbow angle twists nearly 180 degrees.

The vertical portrait display diminishes the necessity for scrolling, whether you’re reading reports, and articles, working on spreadsheets or databases, or browsing through Slack threads. Additionally, it minimizes the frequency of mouse movement around your desk, addressing one of the primary irritations of a dual-screen setup.

On the other hand, a stacked setup involves placing one monitor above the other, saving desk space and minimizing neck movement. 

The best monitor arrangement for you will depend on where you’re comfortable having them and how efficient you get when working. Do not be afraid to change your setup, like putting a monitor in portrait mode if it doesn’t work. 

Should I Put a Secondary Monitor on the Left or Right?

The decision to place your secondary screen on the left or right side depends on personal preference and the nature of your work. For individuals who primarily use one main monitor as their workspace and the other for reference or communication tools, having the secondary monitor on the right is often recommended. 

If your desk is small, a monitor arm can extend the viewing distance to the desk’s edge. A monitor arm has a wide range of motion and tilt range, including a tilt ideal for touch screens. So whether you are sitting or standing, you can bring the monitor to you and position it comfortably. 

Also, if you use both screens equally, place them side by side in a slight V shape, keeping your eye level between them. It’s best to position them at an angle of 15-30 degrees to avoid straining your neck by twisting too much.

This configuration allows for a more natural flow of information from the main screen to the secondary one. However, it ultimately comes down to what feels most intuitive for you.

How to Set Up and Connect Your Second Monitor

Connecting a second monitor and adjusting your computer settings to extend your screen space across both displays is a straightforward task. Learn how to set up dual monitors here:

Setting Up Dual Monitors on Windows 10:

  1. Connect your second monitor to power and then use a VGA, DVI, or HDMI cable to link it to your primary screen or laptop.
  2. Right-click anywhere on your desktop and choose ‘Display Settings’ from the drop-down menu.
  3. Your screens will be listed at the top. By default, they might be set to ‘Duplicate’. Scroll down to ‘Multiple Displays’ and select whether you want to duplicate or extend your screens.
  4. If you choose ‘Extend’, it will prompt you to keep changes. Select ‘Keep changes’ if that’s how you prefer your screens to display.
  5. Adjust both screens for brightness, contrast, and font size, keeping them similar for visual comfort.

Setting up Dual Monitors on Windows 11:

  1. Connect your second monitor to power and then use a VGA, DVI, or HDMI cable to link it to your docking station or laptop.
  2. Right-click anywhere on your desktop and select ‘Display Settings’ from the drop-down menu.
  3. In Windows 11, the multiple displays section is found in the same box as your screens. From there, easily choose whether you want to duplicate or extend your displays.
  4. Once you’ve chosen your preference, click ‘Keep changes’ to adjust your screens.
  5. Fine-tune brightness, contrast, and font size on both screens for visual comfort.

Setting Up Dual Monitors For macOS Versions Up to Big Sur 11:

  1. Connect your second monitor to your Mac using the appropriate cable and adapters.
  2. Navigate to System Preferences and click on the ‘Displays’ icon.
  3. Click ‘Gather Windows’; your main screen will display icons for both connected monitors.
  4. Proceed to ‘Display Preferences’ and select ‘Arrangement’ to arrange the icons as desired.
  5. Adjust both screens for brightness, contrast, and font size, maintaining similar settings for visual comfort.

What Is the Best: Dual or Triple Monitor Set-Up?

The beauty of multi-monitor setups—especially when compared with ultrawide and superwide monitors —is the ability to “dock” windows to the edges of each display, making it easy to view tons of windows at once. 

Those with multiple monitors usually opt for two monitors instead of three. When integrating a laptop with a second monitor, consider placing the laptop at eye level with an external stand and positioning the second monitor at a comfortable viewing angle. This arrangement reduces the need to shift your gaze between screens constantly and minimizes strain on your neck. 

Dual Monitor Setup

Dual monitors are typically the most cost-effective choice as they often require just one additional display alongside your existing primary display. It’s the simplest to set up, as many modern laptops and desktops can easily handle two displays. This configuration is versatile for most tasks and doesn’t demand much desk space, fitting well into most workspaces.

However, there are drawbacks. It doesn’t provide as much additional screen space compared to other options. Symmetrical layouts might position the monitor bezels in the center, directly within the user’s line of sight, while asymmetrical arrangements may cause discomfort by requiring frequent head turns left or right. 

Additionally, like any multi-monitor arrangement, discrepancies in color accuracy, brightness, and other specifications may be noticeable if the monitors aren’t identical models with matching settings.

Triple Monitor Setup

A triple monitor setup boasts versatility, providing an array of layouts adaptable to individual needs while employing smaller, cost-effective displays capable of accommodating diverse sizes and resolutions. 

On the downside, triple monitors require a PC with three video outputs, potentially limiting compatibility to standalone video cards and high-end laptops, although workarounds may be available. Additionally, this setup likely occupies more office desk space compared to other listed options, except for the largest big-screen displays or super ultrawide monitors.

Three monitors enable spanning games across all displays using Nvidia Surround or AMD Eyefinity settings whereas dual monitors aren’t as suitable for super-wide gaming due to potential issues with the crosshair landing on the monitor bezels. However, you can game on one monitor while simultaneously having a walkthrough, chat window, or GPU monitor displayed on the other. 

While most games can function this way seamlessly, occasional instances may occur where your mouse cursor “drifts” onto the other monitor while you’re still in-game.

Pick the best number of monitors for you based on your job and daily needs.

Is a 27-inch Monitor Too Big for Dual Monitors?

The size of your monitors is a crucial factor in determining the ideal dual monitor arrangement. While you can get any combination of sizes you prefer, 27-inch and smaller displays are popular in multi-monitor setups, as bigger displays can take up too much space.

Ensure that the space between your primary and secondary display is an arm’s length away, and use an adjustable mount or monitor arms to fine-tune the height and angle. This setup prevents eye strain and allows for seamless multitasking.

The Best Dual Monitor Setup For Your Office

Crafting your workplace’s ideal dual monitor arrangement requires a thoughtful blend of arrangement strategies and ergonomic principles. Here are some pivotal guidelines to optimize your workspace:

As stated previously, investing in and procuring monitor arms that offer height, tilt, and rotation flexibility will be the best for adjustability. These accessories enable customized monitor placement, allowing a full range of motion and aligning with your ergonomic requirements. 

Opt for screens that are the same size and set up at the same height, preferably 19 inches or larger. Maintain a distance of around an arm’s length (approximately 60-70cm) between yourself and the screen. Ensure the top of your monitors rests at or slightly below eye level to alleviate strain on your neck, fostering a more natural and comfortable viewing experience.

Make sure to keep monitors perpendicular to outdoor windows and avoid placing your monitor in front of an outdoor window. The glare from the sun will increase strain on your eyes. The opposite is also true. Having your monitor facing the window will increase screen reflection.

Whether opting for a side-by-side or stacked setup, aim for symmetry in your dual-screen office arrangement, this limits the movement of your head while using your PC. This makes sure that you avoid issues relating to neck pain. Symmetry not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also cultivates a balanced and organized workspace.

Make sure to keep your desk tidy by utilizing cable organizers or clips to manage cables. This not only enhances the workspace’s visual appeal but also diminishes tripping hazards. Lastly, introduce task lighting that illuminates your workspace without causing glare on the monitor screens. This aids in reducing eye strain and fosters a well-lit and comfortable environment conducive to work.

Final Note

The best dual monitor setup for your office is one that prioritizes ergonomics and personal comfort. Whether you opt for a side-by-side or stacked configuration, carefully consider the placement of your monitors, invest in adjustable accessories, and create a workspace that promotes productivity and well-being.

By taking these factors into account, you can enjoy the benefits of a dual monitor setup while minimizing the risk of discomfort or strain.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.