If you often need to work with paper documents simultaneously while you type, one of the best ergonomic accessories you can get for yourself is a document holder. It’s a simple contraption that can save your neck (literally) and boost your productivity.
Why They are So Helpful
According to statistics, office workers rank as one of the leading groups most likely to suffer from neck pain. The most important benefit of a document holder is that it eliminates frequent twisting and bending of the neck to refer back and forth between your documents and the computer screen. These micro movements may not seem like much, but done repeatedly is a recipe for acute or even chronic neck pain.
Apart from ergonomics, a good document holder can also increase your productivity. It keeps your papers closer to eye level and your screen, preventing breaks in your attention by having to look down or to the side constantly.
Types of Document Holders- Which One Should I Choose?
There are many different types of document holders on the market. Which one to pick largely comes down to the types of documents you’ll be holding, plus your current workstation set up.
In-line Document Holder
This type of paper holder positions your reference documents directly between the keyboard and the monitor but at a sloping angle so that it corresponds to your field of vision.
This setup eliminates the sideways head movements you’d have to make if the documents were placed flat on a surface. You still need to look down slightly, though it’s dramatically reduced compared to when the papers are placed flat on the desk.
Since an in-line document holder sits between your keyboard and monitor, it works best if your monitor is height adjustable (to prevent part of the document from obscuring your screen). Alternatively, if your desk comes with a keyboard tray, you can take advantage of in-line document holders’ ability to slide part of the document below desk level to avoid any obstruction of view.
Sloped/ Slanted Desks also sit in between your desktop keyboard and monitor, and are ideal if you frequently need to write on the documents instead of just referencing them. The gentler incline compared to in-line document holders make them less ergonomic on the neck, however.
Screen-mounted Document Holder
As the name implies, this kind of copy holder is mounted on either side of your computer screen. This completely eliminates having to bend your neck down, as the document can be positioned at the same plane as the screen. There exists screen mounted paper holders for both desktop monitors and laptops.
The downside of these types of document holders is primarily the limited weight capacity they can hold. They also need to positioned off center from the screen, requiring a slight rotation in the neck to see.
Free-standing Document Holder
Finally, there are document holders that can stand upright on their own. Some are even height adjustable and heavy duty enough to hold up a text book.
Free standing document holders are generally more robust and easier to mount (the documents) than their screen-mounted counterparts. They do however take up more desk space.
Pro Tip: How to Position Your Screen Mounted or Free Standing Document Holder
When using a screen mounted or free standing paper holder, you want to position it as close to your monitor as possible to minimize any twisting of the neck to see the document. Also, angle the document holder towards your eyes.
One last thing. Try to position the document holder on the side of your dominate eye. This makes it easier for you to view the document without twisting your neck. To find out which is your dominate eye, do the following:
- Look at an object some distance away from you
- Extend your arm out in front of you with the thumb facing upwards
- Position the thumb so it’s obscuring the center of the object in your view
- Now, close one eye at a time. The eye that when open keeps the object in the same position as when both eyes are open is your dominate eye.
How to Choose the Ideal Document Holder
Use the below comparison table to quickly see which type of paper document holder is best for you:
|Holder Type||Inline Holder||Sloped Desk||Screen Mounted||Free Standing|
|Suitable For||– Desktops||– Desktops|
|Best For||Desk with a lower level keyboard tray or height adjustable monitor.||Writing on the documents.||Reading longer documents (in dimension).||Reading books or heavier documents.|
Given that you’ll be using this accessory every day for several hours, it’s important that the document holder can withstand the maximum weight of the stack of papers or even a textbook you’ll be holding.
If you need to write on the papers you will be referring to, consider a sloped desk.
Capacity is another important consideration in terms of the maximum paper dimension. Most document holders can take on a standard 8.5″ by 11″ just fine. For paper documents that are larger, a screen mounted or free standing holder would be better, as they make use of all the vertical space available.
Organizing your reference documents is essential to improving your focus and overall productivity at the office. The easiest way to keep your paperwork organized when typing is to use a document holder. This tool helps you position documents properly for easy viewing; thus, preventing unnecessary eye strain and neck pain.