How High Should a Computer Desk Be?

Lynda Moultry Belcher

The proper computer desk height is an important facet of working at a computer. After all, if your desk is not at the right height, and your other accessories are also ill-adjusted, you may experience pain or discomfort in your wrists, arms, neck or back, caused by bad ergonomic practices.

An adjustable chair offers the most customization for personal desk height.

It is important that your computer desk sit at the right height, in relation to your seat as you sit in it, to ensure optimal comfort each time you sit down at the desk. Or, you can always opt for a standing desk.

Desk Height

The height of your computer desk should be about 20 to 28 inches from the ground, depending on the model and brand. In other words, when sitting down, the height of the desk should reach your elbows. If the desk height is not adjustable, alter the height of your seat. Depending on your personal height and level of comfort, adjust the seat slightly higher or lower, but don't vary too much from the desk height/elbow ratio since you want to be ergonomically correct when sitting at a computer desk.

Leg Space

In addition to the overall height of the desk, it should also be tall enough to comfortably slide your legs in the space available for your chair. The minimum amount of clearance required is about 15 inches from your knees to the bottom of the desktop and about 24 inches from your feet resting on the ground. Personal height plays a role here, so you may have to try out different desk or chair types before finding a combination that suits your needs.

Desk Accessories

If the computer desk you purchase lacks an adjustable height feature, consider additional desk accessories to make it more ergonomic and comfortable. A sliding keyboard tray and adjustable office chair provide levels of adjustment, in terms of height and hand position, to suit people of all sizes. Adding an ergonomic footrest under the desk will alleviate lower back discomfort and upper leg pressure.

Work Surface Width and Depth

In addition to an optimal height, your computer desk should meet certain width requirements to ensure an efficient, comfortable workstation. In order to accommodate the average width of a chair, your computer desk should be at least 24 to 27 inches wide. Anything less than 24 inches restricts your range of motion when sitting down, making the desk less comfortable and provides little in the way of workable desktop space. The desk should be deep enough so the monitor is no closer than 20 inches away from your face as you work at the desk.

Computer Desk Chair Height

In addition to an adjustable computer desk, an adjustable chair ensures comfort suited to your height. To get the proper posture in a computer chair, feet should be planted firmly on the ground to avoid any ankle problems down the road. Your back should be straight with your shoulders facing forward. Combined with a proper computer desk height, the proper height of your chair is a factor is determining the ergonomic factor of your workspace.