The Space Between

No matter what sort of document you’re planning to publish through MagCloud, it’s important to understand the role that white space plays in your design’s aesthetics.

White space, also known as negative space, is the unused space between text and graphic elements within a publication. It gives the eye a place to land and rest, and implies significance to the content you place on a page.  Some would argue that this empty space is as important as the text and graphic images of a page and that it can make, or break a design. So let’s explore why it’s so important.

Balance and Harmony in Print Design
White space is an integral element of design, as it enables a state of balance to exist between the design objects. It also plays an active role in the effectiveness of a layout; it can highlight important elements and support the overall hierarchy, leading the viewer around the page as the designer intended. The empty space on a page can be every bit as important as the space occupied by graphic elements, and thoughtful use of white space can give a page a timeless, tasteful, and professional appearance.

Check out this example below of a Small Business Brochure that has been reworked to better showcase their photography while still including valuable messaging.

Balance and Harmony in Print Design
Give your photos room to breathe. Highlighting photography doesn’t mean you have to fill a page edge-to-edge with your image. Leaving empty space near an image leaves room for the consumer to pause and use their imagination beyond the frame. The second layout has the same written content, and even had room for a 3rd photo.

De-clutter Your Page to Get Your Message Across
Clutter on a page is a lot like clutter in a room–it’s distracting and can overwhelm you, or in this case can overwhelm your reader. But when space is at a premium, white space is often abandoned in order to get as much information on the page as possible. It’s important to keep in mind that a page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of seeming busy, cluttered and in turn difficult to read. It can also cheapen the overall image you are trying to portray.

Large blocks of text, with little breathing room, tire the eyes much more quickly than those that are adequately spaced with healthy kerning (spacing between characters) and leading (spacing between lines of text). A crowded layout runs the risk of being overlooked by readers simply because it puts strain on their eyes, and in turn, their patience.

With that in mind, when you are designing your next publication, keep in mind a goal of making the end viewing experience as easy and pleasant for your readers as possible. Just like you would tidy your house for guests, de-clutter your pages to make them inviting for your readers, helping them feel more relaxed and encouraging them to spend time lingering over your content.

Use White Space to Convey Your Message
Step away from the edge. Asymmetry and putting content on the margin, when done deliberately, can have a powerful effect on the reader, but when overdone, it can leave the reader feeling on edge. Text that gets too close to the edge of a page can leave the reader feeling like they are going to fall off the page. What’s worse? If you play it too close, content could get trimmed off during the binding process. In this example above, we re-worked the layout and narrowed the columns to make it easier to read.

Focus on the Negative, Just This Once
There aren’t many situations in life where focusing on the negative is a good thing, but when it comes to print design, you’ll find it can lead to positive results. Take a look through your favorite magazines to see which designs strike a chord with you more frequently. Chances are, you’ll notice a theme. You may start to notice that highlighting and separating text and graphics with white space imparts more value to content.

After you’ve explored other print designs with this focus on the negative space, be sure to revisit some of your own designs, we’re sure you’ll find ways to tidy up and balance your content with a little more breathing room.

Focus on the Negative
Which would you rather read? When dealing with text-heavy content, you don’t need to fill the page from margin to margin with tiny, single-column text. Take a step back and look at the page from afar. Does the content look digestible? Ask yourself “Would I want to read that?” Narrower columns are easier to read than wide ones that span an entire page. 

Get Inspired by Other MagCloud Publishers
For more great examples, check out these MagCloud publishers who really know how to use white space to their advantage:

Hacker Monthly
Snapixel Magazine

Think you have an exemplary use of white space in your MagCloud publication?
Share it in the comments section below!

One thought on “The Space Between

  1. Cheryl 16 Jun 2011 / 10:36 PM

    This is very true!

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