How High Should a Standing Desk Be?

If you have been shopping for a standing desk then you probably know that there are options that are adjustable to different height ranges. So High Should a Standing Desk Be? 

To get the most benefits out of your standing desk, it is important that you have the correct desk height, monitor height, and keyboard height.

In addition, if you plan on alternating between sitting and standing, you want to have an ergonomic chair height as well.

Let’s look at each one separately. 

How High Should a Standing Desk Be

Standing Desk Height

The height of the desktop itself is crucial to avoiding unnecessary back and neck pain and reaping all of the benefits that standing has to offer. Generally, the height of the desk should be about elbow height. However, let’s look at what that means in detail.

If you are standing tall the way you will be when using the desk, hold your arms straight out. The forearms should be parallel to the floor.

They should be able to rest on top of the desk. Therefore, you should measure from the floor to the bottom side of your forearms. Get a desk that is that height or that can adjust to that height. 

One other consideration is the shoes that you will be wearing. Most of us have more than one pair of shoes that may be worn while we are working at the desk. Take that into account and measure the height while wearing the shoes. 

Check out this table for some average desktop heights for different user heights. However, everyone has slightly different proportions so these are only guidelines and you will want to measure to your forearms anyways. 

User HeightStanding Desktop Height
5’0”36.5”
5’2”37.5”
5’4”39”
5’6”40.5”
5’8”41.5”
6’0”44”
6’2”44.5”
6’4”47”
6’6”48”
6’8”49.5”

If you purchase an adjustable height standing desk, then you also want to make sure that you adjust it to an ergonomic height. Many options also have programmable height buttons so that you can save the best height for standing, sitting, or even for more than one user. 

A quick way to adjust it to the correct height is similar to the way that you measure. Stand up straight with your shoulders slightly back and hold your arms so that your elbows are parallel with the floor.

Bring the desk up until your hands rest comfortably on top of the keyboard.

One more thing is that it is okay if the desk is slightly lower than the recommended height for the user. However, never adjust the desk to be higher than the recommended height because this can be worse for your body.

Read More >> Ergonomics in the Workplace [Ultimate Guide]

Monitor Height

The monitor height is also very important for a comfortable and beneficial standing position. The monitor should not be too close to your face, but it should not be too far away either.

The general rule of thumb is that the monitor should be around an arms length away. This will usually be around 2 feet give or take. 

The height of the monitor should be measured by the top of the screen. The top should be slightly below eye level and should never be above eye level.

If you require bifocals when you are working at your standing desk then you will want to lower the monitor an inch or two more. 

You want the monitor positioned so that you never have to bend your neck up or down. One way to improve this factor is to give the monitor a slight upward tilt.

If you tilt your monitor back 10 to 20 degrees, you should be able to view it comfortably without having to strain or tilt your neck or back. 

One last thing to think about is dual monitors. The locations of the monitors actually depends on how and how much you use each one.

If you use both monitors an equal amount or simultaneously, then they should be placed close together at an angle facing you.

The height should still be slightly below eye level. If you use one of the monitors significantly more, then you should have that one positioned directly in front and the other one off to the side. 

Keyboard and Mouse Height

You would think that desktop height and keyboard height are the same thing, but that is not always the case.

A lot of standing desks have a keyboard tray that is different from the height of the desktop. If this is the case then the measurements will be a little different. 

The keyboard should be at comfortable arm height when they are held out parallel from the floor. The mouse should be on this same surface.

You measure the height of this surface using the same process used for measuring the desktop height. However, this means that your desktop will not be at the same height.

How High Should a Standing Desk Be

The keyboard should be positioned so that your wrists rest comfortably on top of it. The wrists should remain parallel to the keyboard tray or desktop even when you are typing.

You should never have to bend them much or move them from side to side to reach the keys that you use often. 

As long as your keyboard and monitor are at the ergonomically correct heights, the desktop itself will not matter very much. If the monitor seems too high when the keyboard tray is comfortable then the desk may not be a good option for you.

However, if the desktop is large enough then you can put the keyboard on the same surface as the monitor and use the keyboard tray for something else that you do not use as often. 

One more thing to consider is an ergonomic keyboard. Ergonomic keyboards have a negative tilt to make using them more comfortable and better for your body. This will help you keep good posture and a beneficial desktop height.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Standing Desks with Keyboard Trays (2021 Review) 

Sitting Desktop height

A lot of standing desks have the ability to lower to sitting height. This is great because the healthiest way to utilize a standing desk is to alternate between standing and sitting. A ratio of somewhere between 1:1 or 2:1 favoring sitting seems to be the best. 

When you are in a sitting position, your arms should be able to reach the keyboard and rest slightly on top of it without bending your wrists too much.

Your upper arms should hang loose. If you have to raise up your arms or shoulders then the desk is too high. If your hands are below your elbows, then the desk is too low. 

When the desk is too low then the spine will be unnaturally curved which can cause pain in the back, neck, or even the legs. If the table is too high then the neck muscles will be tense and strained as you work.

Check out this table for average sitting heights for different user heights. 

User HeightSitting Desktop Height
5’0”22.5”
5’2”23”
5’4”24”
5’6”25”
5’8”25.5”
6’0”27”
6’2”28”
6’4”28.5”
6’6”29”
6’8”30”

You should also make sure that you are seated properly when using the desk at the correct height. To eliminate strain on the spine, your pelvis should be at the same angle that it would be if you were standing or walking. 

It is best to have a chair that has a slightly inclined seat. The seat should incline slightly forward and your feet should rest flat against the floor.

The backrest should make sure that your spine remains in a natural position as you sit and work. 

You should adjust the chair to fit your own proportions and specifications. This includes the seat, backrest, and armrests.

The seat will be correct when your legs make a 90 degree angle and your feet are around shoulder width apart and rest flat against the floor. You should be seated all the way back so that the backrest can do its job and rest your back. 

Ergonomic chairs are great because they are so adjustable. The backrest can be adjusted so that you can sit all the way back comfortably while keeping a good distance from the keyboard and monitor and having your legs in an ergonomic position as well.

The armrests should be high enough for the elbows to rest on them easily and keep your arms forming a 90 degree angle. This means that they should be very close to the same height as the desktop itself. 

Final Thoughts on Standing Desk Height

Adjustable standing desks are best for this, but there are other ways to ensure that you have the correct height as long as you purchase the right desk for you.

If you are planning on using an existing desk, there are tons of standing desk convertor options and some are adjustable as well.

Try to make sure that the monitor and keyboard heights are correct first. If you have not bought a desk yet, measure to the underside of your arm while standing and get a desk that adjusts to that height. There are so many options, you should not have trouble finding one that suits your height as well as your taste in style and design.

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

About Athlete Desk

Learn about standing desks, bicycle desks, treadmill desks, ergonomic chairs & accessories.

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