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Why white space is important in design

December 7, 2016

Let’s talk about rule #1 in design: White space. It’s the most important factor of good design This post will explain why and how you should use it to enhance your design.

What is white space?

White space is the space between the elements in your layout. It’s space that isn’t filled with text, graphics or photos; also called negative space. It doesn’t have to be white. It can be colored or textured as long as it doesn’t hold elements of design or content, e.g. a colored background.


White space is nothing. White space is the absence of content. White space does not hold content in the way that a photograph or text holds meaning and yet it gives meaning and yet it gives meaning, through context, to both image and text. In fact, white space can make or break the effective transmission of image and text.   – Keith Robertson

Let’s talk about rule #1 in design: White space. White space is the most important factor of good design This post will explain why and how you should use it to enhance your design | thatistheday.com

The problem

White space is often the factor of disagreement between designer and client. While a designer knows about the advantages of negative space inside a layout, the client often feels like he’s not getting what he paid for. For the client, white space equals lost space. For the designer the opposite is true.



Advantages of using white space


Creating paragraphs and separating text through headings and subheadings increases the readability of your content and makes it easily scannable. The reader doesn’t have to search for important information because it stands out in your design.

Main focus

The same goes for other elements inside your design. By leaving space around text and graphic elements, you not only create a hierarchy of those but you can also put the main focus on the most important.


As said above, clients think of white space as something negative but actually the opposite is true. The more space you leave unfilled, the more elegant and professional your design looks.


By leaving a space blank, you can balance out two or more objects inside your design. Creating balance is important to reach a visually attractive design.


How to use white space?

First of all, don’t be afraid to leave some spaces empty. This doesn’t mean your design is boring or unattractive. It’s a misconception to think you have to use all the space you have. Trying to put too much into your design, be it photos, text, or graphic elements, will confuse the viewer. An overload of information can distract from what is important and makes people turn away.

Before you start to design, spend a couple of minutes thinking about the information you want to provide, what message you want to send.

Make one object of your design stand out from the rest. This is the main focus point and to make this obvious to the viewer it should be separated to other objects through negative space.

Don’t just stop with graphic elements. Text can be broken into paragraphs and increasing line-height is an effective way to make it better readable and also look more elegant.

In the end, take one last look at your design. There might still be something you can remove without losing meaning. Reduce everything that doesn’t hold important information or is indispensable for the overall composition of your design. It’s a bit like the KonMari method of graphic design. Look at every object and ask yourself: Does it hold meaning? If not: discard.

You can find other rules of design in this post: The Basics of Good Design

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