Context Between Content: The Importance Of White Space

You may have heard the proverb: “Do not speak unless you can improve the silence.” It’s one of my favorites, and I strive to respect its intent in my design work. When it comes to design, silence is the empty—or negative—space in your layout. Often called white space, this silence is viewed by many as a wasted opportunity, extravagance even. After all, you could have (should have?) crammed that space with more content.

One only needs to compare a Tiffany’s ad to a direct marketing coupon to understand the implied luxury of white space. But far more importantly, white space helps communicate intent; the flow of a well-balanced page supports the hierarchy of the content and guides the reader. Lack of white space is fatiguing; important elements are lost and readers lose focus. To quote another “proverb”: You’re just talkin’ loud and sayin’ nothing.

So consider the silence in your next layout. Chances are, that extra graf can’t improve it.

By Todd Nocera