What Does White Space Mean in the Design World?

graphic design biggest secret is white space

Are your marketing materials difficult to read? Do your web pages make it hard for users to know what to focus on? You may have a clutter problem. A graphic design pro will likely suggest “adding more white space”. Have you ever wondered what that means?

What is white space?

  • White space, or negative space, is defined as empty space (white or other color or pattern) that is around content. When used optimally, it lets the design ‘breathe’ – without clutter that can distract users. It is a powerful tool in the world of web and print design.

Where is white space in a printed piece or web user interface?

  • within actual text (letter and line spacing)
  • in page margins and column spacing
  • in areas around text and images, and around functional web elements such as buttons and forms

How does optimizing white space help the viewer/user?

  • it increases text readability, by using looser (vs. very tight) letter and line spacing.
  • It calls attention to objects, whether an image or text. The more white space around an object, the more noticeable it will be, because there is no clutter to interfere.
  • It affects object placement. Placing items close together tends to cause them to be seen as one object. For example, think of the labels under images or above form fields; in this case, less white space is good.
  • It imparts an elegant, luxurious feeling. More white space lets an object or text speak for itself; clutter is rare in the world of luxury goods.

Good use of white space clarifies your message to make it more easily read and understood, while lending a sophisticated feeling to all of your materials.