White Space

White space is exactly that - space that is white and empty. It is the absence of image or text. In design, it is as important as color, layout, or type. White space can be a transition element that ties typography and image together. White space allows the viewer to visually breathe. Balancing positive and negative spacing is key to aesthetic composition.

With direct mail, such as in some types of magazine, newspaper, and yellow pages advertising, white space is limited in order to get as much vital information on to the page as possible. A page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of appearing busy, cluttered, and is typically difficult to read. To compensate the spacing between letters and their typeface are critical. The easiest way to make a design piece look down-market is to fill every area of white space.

Carefully planned use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance. The majority of upscale, designer brands use design layouts that have an abundance of white space and very little text. White space can create the perception of luxury, sophistication, and high quality. The more white space and minimalism, the more expensive the brand is.

(left) Macro White Space, (right) Micro White Space

White space can be further subdivided into "macro white space" and "micro white space". Macro white space can be defined as the space between major elements in a composition. Micro white space can be defined as the smaller elements and their spacing, such as paragraph and line spacing.

The most successful white space is carefully crafted and exists seamlessly in a layout. It looks intentional and to the untrained eye goes undetected. That is where white space and the "Keep It Simple" rule of design go hand in hand. Generally the more white space in a composition the more legible and effective communication will be.

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