Vertical vs Horizontal Monitor (Side By Side Comparison)

The advantage of using a vertical monitor over a horizontal one is that it allows you to achieve an increase in productivity when undertaking tasks that involve working with a large volume of text.

Think long form writing, or coding, or even live chat on streaming platforms such as Twitch. Each involves interacting with text that has the potential to take up an entire display. 

The many, shortened lines of text that can be displayed upon a vertical monitor makes it easier to digest and contextualize information such as the format of an article or the thread of conversation. 

At commonly used font sizes of 14px – 18px the dimensions of a 16:9 monitor in vertical mode helps text reach an optimal line length, which the Baymard Institue found was between 50–75 characters.

Previously, we explored how your monitor can be customised to improve your posture, and look after your eyesight, and now we’re going to look at the Pros and Cons of flipping your monitor into portrait mode to see whether this is another office hack that you should be exploring.

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

Why do programmers use vertical monitors?

BenQ advocate the benefits of vertical monitors to programmers by stating an 82% increase in visible code (84 lines vs 46 lines) when making the move away from landscape mode. 

As with other text heavy disciplines, the more lines of code in view at any one time, the greater the appreciation of context can be obtained such as the definition of a variable, or when comparing code during a merge.

Of course, the productivity benefit of viewing more and more text has to end somewhere!

Theoretically you could keep adding monitors in a daisy chain formation until your GPU runs out of power, however our ability to grasp and process information becomes overloaded when presented with a large volume of text at any one time. 

What are the disadvantages of using vertical monitors?

  • Viewing video on a vertical monitor also becomes awkward as moving pictures are often filmed in a 16:9 aspect ratio. This is why vertical monitors are usually favored by text based applications. 
  • Many online app struggle to be responsive to the vertical switch. YouTube for example ends up displaying a small video above a huge stack of comments and thumbnail images.
  • Multiple windows open at any one time also becomes a bit of a problem as they must be stacked one on top of the other, rather than side by side. Over time the slight motion of looking up to the top window can cause additional strain on your neck.
A blog article being written on a landscape displays shows 10 lines of text

Using the same monitor and settings, but now turning the display to vertical mode, instantly you can gain a better appreciation of how text based activities can .

When the monitor is vertical it allows an additional 18 lines of text to be shown (+180% increase vs horizontal display), and with it a far greater proportion of the entire article. 

Having written and formatted hundreds of posts in the past year, I can assure you this helps. 

In addition to the greater appreciation of context and format, the shorter the lines of text can more accurately they can be tracked and read by the eye. This is the same reason multi-column text is favored by newspapers and magazines.


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