White space ― the unmarked portion of a page ― lends it elegance and sophistication, since it’s a way to organise text and graphic features. It also guides your attention to certain elements by having them stand apart.
There are two kinds of people:
- Those who know exactly what white space is for.
- Those who haven’t a clue: White-Space Misers.
When the White-Space Miser sends you an email, they blurt out all their info … and it’s all in one big, grey, indigestible lump.
How do you feel when you get an email like this? I just feel tired, knowing I’ll have to tediously unpack each sentence. You too?
Times like this, I want to give these chowder-heads a bagful of pre-cut white spaces so they can organise their message into separate thoughts.
And as for book publishers, you’d think they’d know better! Oh, sure, they give you paragraph breaks. But why do they give you a niggardly amount of white space in the book’s gutter?
This often means you have to wrestle your book open, just to read the words near the gutter. I hate that.
One remedy: have almost NO white space near the outer edges of the book’s pages. Devote more white space to the gutter. Then you wouldn’t get RSI holding the book open. You wouldn’t need to keep book-rocks handy to hold your book open, if you read at the table.
Why is white space important?
White space allows text to stand out and provides a contrast. Think of headlines that capture your attention. Are they big, bold and surrounded by space? Have a closer look at one. If it leaps off the page, it’s because it has enough white space around it.
White space also gives your eye a chance to rest, and draws attention to important ideas in your document.
Less is more when you are trying to attract readers. So make it easy for them. Emphasise your message with plenty of white space.