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Information about the author of this post.
mmi229's picture Melissa Claar, MPH, CEAS III
Workplace Safety and Ergonomics Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety
College or Department
Phone Number
(859) 257-3827
Email Address

Laptops were designed with portability in mind, which means they're not the most ergonomic. They're great for quick tasks but they weren't designed to keep you comfortable throughout your entire workday.

For example, the fixed screen and keyboard on a laptop limits adjustability for you as a user. Also, sharp edges can add strain to wrists and can possibly hinder circulation. This makes it difficult to maintain a proper typing position for the arms, wrists, and hands.

When using a laptop, you ultimately adjust to your compact workstation rather than the workstation being designed to maximize your comfort and safety. You can still do a few things to improve the ergonomics of your laptop workstation. Ty these tips and consider purchasing a few extras.

5 tips for more comfort 

With some intention and practice, you can make adjustments to your defaults.

  1. Use a surface — any surface
    Any surface is better than none at all. Don't sit on the couch.
  2. Arm's length distance from the monitor
    Position yourself to be an arm’s length viewing distance from the monitor — and don't forget to maintain that distance.
  3. Hips slightly higher than your knees
    If you're seated and your knees are higher than your hips, try adding some height to your chair. Blankets or pillows work if you don't have an adjustable chair.​
  4. Chin tucked instead of extending your neck forward to look down
    When looking down at the screen, be careful not to bend your neck and head forward to view your monitor. Try tucking in your chin to look down, keeping your head and neck balanced over the shoulder and spine.​
  5. Position elbows at the torso's side with a 90-degree bend
    Position elbows at the torso’s side with approximately 90 degrees bend with arms relaxed and resting on the chair’s armrest when possible.​
  6. Don't rest wrists while typing
    Avoid resting hand/wrist on the wrist rest areas on the laptop while typing. Try using whole hand and arm movements to navigate around the keys.​

3 extras to really improve your laptop setup

If you're working on a laptop longer-term, you would benefit from these small but meaningful upgrades.

  1. External full-size keyboard
  2. External mouse
  3. Laptop stand