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Why Is White Space Important In Graphic Design?

August 28, 2013 IADT General, Graphic Design 0 Comments

Why Is White Space Important?In designing for print or online, it's good to know how to use "white space" to achieve the best results. Also called "negative space," this refers to any area on a print or webpage that is not occupied by text. It includes the background, borders, ends of text lines and even the spaces between text lines—whatever color those spaces might be. Good designers, including talented graphic design students, know that some blank space is essential for getting a message across, whether they are designing advertisements, fiction, news, other types of nonfiction or other pages that feature text.

What White Space Conveys

When you compare, for example, high-end magazines on glossy paper to low-end advertising mailers on newsprint, you'll notice that unoccupied space conveys luxury. When a publication can afford to use lots of white space around text (or an image) on a page, the page looks well-designed and better captures the reader's attention. When there is too little space, as in those cheap mailers, all the information is crammed together; that cluttered look may confuse readers who may not know where to look first. They might even close the book or publication, skip the page, toss the mailer or leave the website.

When you design for print or the Web, keep in mind how negative space affects anyone looking at those pages. Allow for large borders around the text and images. Allow for enough "air" above and below text lines (leading, pronounced ledding) so that the person looking at it will want to read the text. In fact, text is easier to read when the lines are short rather than long (as in print newspaper columns). So don't be afraid to leave borders around columns of print.

White Space in Logos

When designing a logo, you can make clever use of negative space to convey nonverbal information about the company's product or service. For example, when you look at the FedEx logo, you see an arrow that is created between the last two letters; it conveys the message "we transport" to people viewing the logo. In another example, the Hershey's Kisses logo uses a similar device in which you can spot a sideways Hershey's kiss shape between the "K" and the "i" of "Kisses."

More About White Space

Here are some other facts about negative space:

  • Paragraph indents were originally created to leave space for decorative capital letters to be printed at the beginning of the first line. That practice eventually gave way to indents even when large caps weren't being used.
  • In printed books, the right-hand pages (called "rectos") are thought to capture the reader's attention more than left-hand pages (called "versos"), so left-hand pages following sections may appear blank, but right-hand pages, which usually feature chapter or section openings, never do.
  • The use of space between paragraphs and in the left and right margins increases reading comprehension by almost 20 percent, according to a 2004 study conducted by D. Y. M. Lin published in "Computers in Human Behavior," as reported by Eric Schaffer, Ph.D.

Image Sources: Creative Commons


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