A document holder (also known as a typing stand or paper stand) allows you to position a physical document you are referring to (e.g. for data input) while you work on a document on your monitor screen in a way that lets you can view both screen and hard copy document better.
Nearly everyone who uses a computer in their daily work at least occasionally has a task where they must keep referring to a physical, hard copy document while typing. At such times, and used properly, a well-designed document holder can have a massive positive ergonomic impact. And help avoid the ergonomic risks of not using a document holder.
The benefits of using a good document holder. And dangers of not using one.
Using a document holder isn’t just a more efficient and pleasant way or working. It avoids a series of classic ergonomic hazards, including:
Unnatural neck twisting: by positioning the document where it’s closer to the monitor or in line with your natural eyeline as it runs from screen to keyboard, you avoid unnatural twisting of your neck when looking from hard document to screen and back.
Unnecessary eye fatigue and headaches: with a good quality document holder, the document stands at the same distance and angle from your eyes as your computer screen. Assuming your computer screen is already set at the optimal ergonomic distance (arm’s length), the document holder will ensure that the paper document, too, is positioned as closely as possible to this ideal position.
Curved spine: if you don’t use a document holder, you must lie your documents on your desk top, usually beside the keyboard. To read the document, which will often include smaller print or scribbled notes, you have to bend forward with a curved spine, adopting a posture that is asking for ergonomic problems.
Getting the best out of your document holder
As discussed above, by having the documents you’re using positioned at the right height in front of you, you avoid putting unnecessary strain on your spine, neck, eyes or other body parts. Avoiding all sorts of aches, pains and more serious chronic conditions. Document holders that help you do this vary in design, but essentially fall into 2 categories:
Free-standing document holder: designed to stand beside your monitor screen, you should ensure your document holder is as close to the edge of your screen as possible, and at the same distance from your head as the screen.
In-line document holder: ideally, though, you will have an in-line document holder, which positions your document directly between your keyboard and computer screen at a sloping angle that follows your field of vision, which naturally curves down. With in-line document holders, you don’t need to make any sideward head movements to look from screen to document and back again.
What to look for when selecting your ideal document holder
You might think that one document holder is as good as another, but that’s certainly not the case. A good document holder needs to meet a number of simple but critical standards:
Is it tough and hard-wearing? Like any equipment that will be at the heart of your working life hour after hour, day after day, you need to ensure it has been well-designed and well-made from high quality materials. So that it can take the wear-and-tear of normal office life.
Is it strong enough for your needs? What documents will your document holder be supporting? Many people only need to put a few sheets at most on their document holder, but you may occasionally well want to place a heavy book or ledger on it. If so, ensure your document holder is designed to take heavier loads. One made of metal, for example, is ideal in this respect.
Does it hold larger documents? The vast majority of documents that people work with in an office setting are either A4 or A3. Even if you normally only work with A4 documents, a job may come in tomorrow that changes that. Any document holder that can’t support documents larger than A4 is probably a bad investment.
How adjustable does it need to be? Your ideal document holder needs to fit your purposes, but also your budget. Here are some of the main options. Consider what features are essential, nice-to-have and not so necessary for the work your document holder will have to do:
Fixed-height document holder: this should fit between screen and keyboard. The height should mean that your document, keyboard and monitor screen are all equidistant from your eyes.
Space saving: when the document holder isn’t in use, can you slide your keyboard underneath it to make space, create a restful visual impression and reduce desktop clutter?
Height-adjustable document holder: the next option up is a copy holder where you can adjust the height. The distance between the height step options should be small, as the differences in document height requirement between different users is also small.
Fully adjustable document holder: You can also go for a document holder where you can adjust the height, depth and angle of the document. So you can align the document and the monitor screen exactly, to reduce the chances of eye fatigue, neck and spine problems, etc. This document holder can stand between keyboard and screen or alongside the screen if that makes sense for the work you’re doing.
Each document holder also meets the highest standards in terms of performance, but also looks. Because let’s face it, if you’re going to be staring at your document holder for hours every day, looking good is more than a nice-to-have.
At Dataflex, our designers appreciate that a product like a document holder needs to fit in with your office’s look-and-feel. So we create designs that are elegant and striking, but never overbearing.