Why are Accountants Using Multiple Monitors?

CPAs are among a growing field of professionals that have learned that using dual monitors are a large benefit when it comes to doing their job.  They’ve found that the number of programs they need to use has increased, and as it has so has the need for screen real estate.  For example, using dual monitors they can assign a specific monitor to both main applications should as Excel and Word.  But these aren’t the only programs in an accountant’s arsenal these days.  They also use specific programs to view previous year tax information, or working papers, talk with other computers on the network, communicate with email and conduct video chats and conferencing.  As all these applications become more common, the need for CPAs to use not just 2 monitors, but also actually 3-4 monitors has become more common as well.  We’re going to discuss why the need has grown from using just 2 monitors, to using 3-4 monitors and how you can setup your own 3-4-monitor computer system.

So what’s the main reason for using multiple screens (if you are an accountant or other wise?)  Well actually it’s pretty simple- using multiple screens will allow you to prepare a document on one screen, while using a second monitor to reference the material used to build the report.  If you’re a CPA that isn’t using multiple screens then you’re in the minority.  A poll (unscientific) of over 400 CPAs in 6 different states found that 58% of them used at least 2 monitors, and 12% had 3 or more monitors.  It’s this third monitor that many CPAs seem to be fascinated with, is it really necessary?   Let’s look at one scenario where it might help you prepare a document faster and easier.  If an accountant was working on a report in Word on one monitor, the financial report might take up an entire monitor on a second monitor, and the 3rd could be used for graphs, tables or just an Excel file.  Either way, not having to flip back and forth between applications is going to be a huge time saver in the long run, especially on large reports where you constantly have to refer back and forth between documents.

Another common use for multiple screens with accountants is the ability to log in remotely to a client’s network and use a monitor to actively search around on their computer. Having a 2nd and 3rd monitor makes this significantly less troublesome, especially if you are trying to transfer data to your own computer for computation work.

A common use of an extra monitor is to have specific monitors designated for specific devices, such as videoconferences, email, and chat.  In fact, professionals have found that programs like Skype and AIM make it much easier to communicate within a company or with associates, but having a designated monitor makes this far easier.

Of course there are quite a few more uses for using a 2nd, 3rd and even forth screen, but as you can imagine these are all common sense as well.  No need to list them, as you probably already have each monitor’s use planned out in your head.  If you like to multitask and get work done quickly and efficiently, then using a multiple monitor system is for you.  If you pride yourself on working “Smart not hard” (or perhaps both) then a multiple monitor computer system is right for you.  If you consistently fumble through reports, email, news and more- then using a multiple monitor computer system might be able to give you an edge.

So what type of equipment do you need to setup your multiple monitor computer system?  Well there are 4 things that you should probably consider:

1)  RAM

2)  Monitor Size/Style/Arrangement

3)  Processing Power

4)  Graphics Card

Without all 4 of those elements you may end up with a lagging, inefficient computer.  The good news is that putting together those elements is actually not that difficult.


Start with at least 4 GBs of RAM and then move up as needed.  Anything less than that and you’ll wish that you had spent the extra money to upgrade.  Trust me when I say this is one area where you most certainly do not want to slack.

Monitor Size/Style/Arrangement

The same survey that determined that around 58% of CPAs are now using multiple screens, also found out that nearly all of those CPAs are using 19”x19” square monitors, as opposed to widescreen monitors.  The most common configuration is using a stand and creating a “four-square” setup.  There may be a number of reasons for this, the biggest of which is that it looks and feels more natural to have a perfectly square setup, over an oddball setup.  Of course, you can choose whatever you are most comfortable with; just remember to pick all of the same size monitors.  Having different sized monitors does make things a bit more difficult to work with, especially if one is shorter than another.  It’s also highly recommend that you pick a quality stand to go with your setup, as this will actually reduce eyestrain and help keep the monitors even.


Skimping on the processor probably could save you a few hundred bucks, BUT is it really worth it?  The processor is the brain of your multiple monitor system, so cutting down processing power means reducing your machine’s ability to run properly.  In other words, don’t bother building a multiple monitor system if you’re not ready to shell out the cash for a dual or quad core processor- you’ll find that your machine simple won’t be able to handle it’s workload if you try to save cash on your processor.  So here’s the deal, get a Pentium i5 or i7- don’t be cheap.  The headache you’ll save will the worth the extra cash you spend.

Graphics Card

Having a dual, triple, quad or more output card (also known as dual head, triple head, etc.) is one of 3 different ways to setup your multiple monitor system.  These cards range anywhere from a few hundred bucks, to a few thousand dollars.    Your computer may already be equipped to setup a second monitor, so if you’re only planning on running 2 monitors then check the back of your machine before you make any additional purchases.

Hopefully this article was able to highlights some of the reasons that CPAs are using multiple screens these days.  In addition, you should now know what is needed to get your multiple monitor system setup as well.   As always, if you have specific questions about the components of your system, it’s usually best to consult with a multiple monitor professional, you can click here to do so.