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Finding The Perfect Location For Your Dry-Erase Board

Finding The Perfect Location For Your Dry-Erase Board

Mon Dec 3 2018
By: Mike P

For over 50 years, Magnatag has worked alongside architects and contractors to build thousands of custom whiteboards for office spaces across the globe. Over the years, we’ve managed to pick up a few tips from the experts that can help you find the perfect location for your whiteboard. With some of our Magnatag expertise added to the mix, we've put together this guide to detail everything you need to know when it comes to finding the perfect destination for your whiteboard.

Understanding the Relationship Between Positioning & Display Size
Display size and positioning are the two most significant factors that one must consider before choosing a size for your whiteboard—both of which vary depending on the size of the space. Ultimately, the two elements share a unique relationship, as both positioning and size directly relate to text and images displayed on the board and how we interpret content in a presentation space. The size of a surface directly links to the size of the room, and contrariwise, the size of a room implicates how large a surface can be and its final location.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend mounting your whiteboard no higher than seven feet above the base of the floor and no lower than three-feet. To be more specific, the top of a 4 x 6’ whiteboard should hang 84” off the floor; a 3 x 4’ board should be 78”, and a 2 x 3’ should hang no higher than 72”. You should always place your dry-erase board in a position that lines up in direct eyesight of the primary user. The bottom line is you never want to place your whiteboard in a place that’s out of reach. Of course, this is just the guideline that we practice in our facility, and that’s not to say it’s the cardinal rule for whiteboard installations. If you want to take a deeper dive into the science of whiteboard installations, including ADA rules and guidelines for accessibility, we’ve put together this collection of rules and guidelines that can help you master your next whiteboard installation.

The 4/6/8 Rule
At its core, the 4/6/8 rule functions as a set of standards that determine the optimal display image size in any given presentation space. Depending on the intent of your dry-erase board—be it passive viewing, general information gathering, or inspection-based viewing—the image height of the board should be either 1/4th, 1/6th, or 1/8th the distance to the furthest viewer.

1/8th or Passive Viewing
The 1/8th viewing distance is perfect for spaces where general visual content will be displayed-think along the lines of webcam calls, movies, and YouTube videos. Typically, this content doesn't involve detail-oriented graphics, and when paired with a combination of audio and visual cues, can be easily digested. For example, in the case that you're setting up a project where passive viewing is the primary function of the display surface, and the furthest viewer is 30' from the board, the minimum image height your display surface can support should be 3.75' tall.

1/6th or General Viewing
The 1/6th viewing distance works best in environments where information is retained but is not critical for comprehension of the presentation as a whole (PowerPoint presentations, classroom notes, word processing, etc.). This type of content is the most common use case for general conference rooms in the US where a discussion is driven by what's displayed but does not necessarily require an in-depth inspection of an image or diagram. So, for the room where the furthest viewer is 30' from the display unit, the minimum height of the display surface should be just under 5' tall.

1/4th or Detailed/Inspection/Analytical Viewing
The 1/4th viewing distance is the most intimate and compelling angle of the 4/6/8 rule. Specifically used when inspecting highly detailed graphs and documents, like a CAD drawing or medical chart, this viewing distance should only be considered for presentation spaces where analytical interpretation and discussion of the display's content is of primary focus. If we were to revisit once again the presentation space where the furthest viewer would sit 30' away from the board or screen, the ideal height for the display unit would be 7.5'.

Generally speaking, most projects that require a whiteboard should fit nicely into one of these three categories. In the case that you may not know the exact intent of the presentation space, we recommend going with the 1/6th distance, as the majority of businesses and schools typically keep detailed inspection-based discussions to a more intimate small-group environment.

Determining The Height of Your Board

The ultimate goal when hanging any visual display surface is to provide a clear sightline for everyone in a designated presentation space. Finding the perfect height to accomplish this task is easier said than done, and quite honestly, there's no industry standard to get you started—but there are a few rules and regulations that can point you in the right direction.

Use ADA Accessibility Rules as a Baseline
In 2010 the Department of Justice published revisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) detailing the minimum and height requirements for signage as it relates to the ground level. The regulations state that the minimum height for signage be 48 inches above the ground, with the maximum height hanging 60 inches above the floor. While most visual display units do not qualify as "signage" under the ADA guidelines, many experts recommend using the 48-inch minimum as a preventative baseline for an end-user. The thought behind this recommendation is that the average height of a seated individual measures 36", and with the bottom of the display unit hanging at 48", the average viewer would not have their view of the display surface obstructed by another seated individual.

The 1/3rd Rule
According to joint recommendations developed by the leading global authority in home theater systems, CEDIA, and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, an ideal view of a display surface should not have an angle of greater than 15 degrees to the top or bottom of the screen. The 1/3rd rule takes note of CEDIA's recommendations and utilizes a formulaic approach similar to what's found in the 4/6/8 law to determine the best display height for any given space. Ideally, an architect or contractor should measure 1/3rd the distance between the display unit and the furthest seat in the room and use that measurement to determine the final height of the display unit. By sticking to this formula, the height of the display scales with the audience and limits the line of sight for those located in the back of the room.

In Conclusion

Both the size and location of your visual display unit can have a tremendous impact on the surface’s end-user, and as a result, you should treat every surface you install on a case-by-case basis. It is essential to understand that available space ultimately dictates the final placement of your whiteboard.

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