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Left Return or Right Return? Left Bridge or Right Bridge? What do They Mean? 

If you order office furniture you may need to decide if you need a left or right return on an L-shaped desk or a left or right bridge on a U-shaped desk. This can be confusing. Fortunately, many L-shaped and U-shaped office desks are reversible, but many are not, and you don’t want to order the wrong one.

The “return” is the “wing” portion of an L-shaped desk. It’s called a return because manual typewriters had what was called a “carriage return” lever that moved the paper or type mechanism sideways to start a new line. It also usually moved the paper up one line. In the earliest typewriters, both left and right carriage returns were made. Left and right return desks were designed to accommodate these typewriters, and the same terminology was used.

You determine a left versus right return from the perspective of the person sitting at the desk. So if you are sitting at the main desk you have a left return L-shaped desk if the return section of the desk is at your left. If you are sitting at the main desk and the return section is at your right, then you have a right return L-shaped desk.


The same format applies if you have a U-shaped desk. In this case the smaller desk attached to the main desk is called a bridge. It also connects to the credenza behind you to form a “U”. If you are sitting at the main desk and the bridge is at your left, then you have a left bridge U-shaped desk. If you are sitting at the main desk and the bridge is at your right, then you have a right bridge U-shaped desk.


Which do you need? Left or right? That depends on the layout of your office and your own preference. Sometimes one or the other is the only configuration that will fit in your space. In a small number of cases it doesn’t make a difference, but usually one configuration is easier to access or makes the most efficient use of your office.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact Modern Office at 1-800-443-5117 with any of your office furniture questions.

Modern Office is known for offering a large selection of office furniture from over 100 manufacturers at discount prices -- not just the limited colors or sizes you may see elsewhere.

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