White Space graphic

There’s Nothing Here To Fear

Jim Dines, March 06, 2013

Understanding whitespace can be difficult for some people, in fact, many seem to “fear” it. The thinking is that every square inch of available space needs to get filled up because design costs money, and the buck needs all the bang it can get. Often people see whitespace as a waste of valuable real estate, just plain empty, unused space. And a common response to empty real estate is to fill it with junk. Make things bigger, add a pattern, enlarge a logo. But then clutter occurs. Clutter is rarely a good thing and usually impedes communication.

Whitespace samples

Negative space, another word for white space, which doesn’t necessarily have to be white, is what exists between elements in the design of a thing. The elements include: photographs, illustrations, charts, graphics, headlines, margins, gutters and text. In the arranging of these components, whitespace itself becomes an element. It helps establish a visual hierarchy. It allows the eye to navigate, and the ability to navigate, in turn, helps communicate.

Whitespace is one of the most valuable elements of great design. It is the one element that gives design sophistication, presence and clarity. It makes design sing.