White Space: Is it always white?

White space is simply the absence of text and images; it is in essence nothing at all. It is emptiness, yet it is not wasted space. When used properly it can enhance any document, brochure, ad, website, or any form of written communication. Unlike its name implies, it does not have to be white. It can be any color you want it to be.


In this example, the white space (which is also called negative space) is orange.

However, the color white is associated with a clean, professional, and elegant design.

There are many interesting examples on the internet of how white space is properly used to help you visualize this design concept.

White space is one of the most powerful aspects of your design. It gives your design the illusion of spaciousness, which is needed for the eye to easily navigate through the design, making it easier and more inviting for the visitor. In the digital world, this equates to higher conversion rates.  Whether you are writing a letter or a resume, or designing a brochure or a website, you will need to know how to effectively use white space.

Apple.com is an excellent example of how white space should be used and how the color white adds power and professionalism to the design.


There are two types of white spaces in graphic design:

1. Active White Space: space that is intentionally left blank to give structure and layout to the page. It is also used to actively lead the eye from one element to the next.

2. Passive White Space: empty space in the margins and between the lines of text.

Here are some general guidelines for effectively using white space in your designs.

-Have margins on all edges of the design. They need to be wide and spacious, including those around Headers and Footers, or navigational bars.

-Have margins around all images. They need to be wide and spacious; nothing should be too close to an image.

-There should be adequate separation, white space, between all elements of your design.

There are many benefits of using adequate white space. White space:

-Attracts the eye

-Always elicits a positive response

-Improves readability

-Creates professional and elegant designs that are sophisticated

-Gives an object the emphasis you want it to have

-Directs the viewer’s eye to where you want it to go

-Acts as a separator between images, text, and the background

White space is used abundantly in designs for high-end brands. It is roomy, pleasing to the eye, and allows the product to sell itself. Inferior products tend to over clutter their designs trying too hard sell you their products.

Here are two examples of weight loss pills:


MyAlli.com is a high-end brand. 
Their website is full of white space in the margins, in and around the navigational bar, and around all the images and text.  This is clean and professional looking.

DietPillNowDietPillNow.com offers an inferior product.

They are trying too hard to sell their product with as many words as they can fit onto the page. In that attempt, their poor design has crowded the page.  There is not enough white space to offer your eye a resting space or to guide your eye from one element to the next.

Additional information on the effective use of white space is available for your review on this forum.

The next time you need to add graphic design into your work, remember the basics first. Step one is to set up wide (negative space) margins on all four sides of your paper or screen.  Step two is to setup wide, white margins around all images and elements in your design.  Lastly, use your creative side to add white space where needed to guide the eye from one part of the design to the next.  Ensure when you read it that your eye is being directed where you want the reader’s eye to go.  In the end…just remember…do not “clutter” your design, sometimes less if more.  Good luck on your next design.

For more information on effectively using white space read White Space is Not Just a Blank Line.

Kimberly Pye is a student at the University of South Florida majoring in Business Management.  She is also the President/Owner of America’s MediaMarketing, Inc, an advertising agency which specializes in print advertising in national magazines.  HotToHave is a brand extension of America’s MediaMarketing, Inc.

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