The “Less-Is-More” Magic of White Space

Experiential Innovation

Sometimes, the most important part of your design is the space where you don’t have anything at all

Whether you’re designing signage, advertising, interior space, vinyl wraps, or other elements that reflect your brand, what you’re not saying can be just as important as what you are. Balancing “white space”—the open space in your design, whether it’s white or another background color—with text and images is an art form. And it’s one that can have a significant impact on how effectively you communicate your brand’s message.

We asked artist and design expert Megan Carty to help articulate the power of a blank space.

Why is white space important in design?

Megan Carty: White space allows the viewer the chance to give the eye a break and really absorb your message. When you only have a fraction of a second to get someone’s attention, you really want them to take away your main message. White space is what gives their eye a chance to focus on the message and remember it.

Why are some brands so resistant to white space?

MC: Many of them feel like they’re spending money for the space, so they want to cram as much information as they can into it. I understand the desire to fill up the space, but it’s not the best use of the space.

What happens when you try to skimp on the white space?

MC: You want to use white space judiciously to create an aesthetic; a beautiful design that’s going to make someone want to look at your ad, signage, or other design. You use it to draw the eye in. If there’s no white space there, the eye just sees it as a blob of information, and instantly the eye will just want to turn away. When there’s too much crammed into the white space—too much to look at at once—the eye skips right over it, so you’ve lost that chance to catch someone’s attention.

Are there best practices in incorporating white space into design?

MC: It definitely depends on the layout and orientation. It’s important to have space between thoughts, using headlines and fonts that are different sizes—but only two or three sizes throughout a layout.

Make sure lines of text are spaced apart, so you have a headline and a subject line and maybe some text. You want your logo or your image to stand on its own. If there’s text associated with the image and you want that text close to the image, but if you just have a logo or a logo mark, you want a little “breathing room” around it so it can stand out and people will notice it and remember it.

Any other thoughts on using white space?

MC: It’s sort of like being at a party. If you’ve got a person who’s alone in the corner, and then there’s a whole group of people on the other side of the room, that looks out of balance. But if you spread people throughout the room equally, it looks more like a unified party. That unified party is what you generally want to achieve in your design.

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