White space in graphic design: Why ‘nothingness’ matters.

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

Are you wondering why some ads are more visually appealing than others? Why some brands look more prestigious and elegant? The answer is: because of white space.

But what does white space (or negative space) mean exactly? White space means any unmarked space on a canvas. It doesn't have to be white - just an area of the canvas with nothing within it. It can correspond to the leading between lines of text, or the space between boxes of text and images, or areas that have been left clear of content.

White space is essential in any piece of communication. With only a few seconds to capture the viewers' attention and make an impression, it is crucial to understand why white space matters.

"Less is More"

The phrase "Less is more" was first adopted by Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to describe his aesthetic. While initially introduced for architecture, this motto is just as relevant for graphic design.

Let's see how using white space can help viewers understand communications better, help brands appear more enticing, and help businesses seem more prestigious.

1. Improves comprehension

A legible piece of communication is better understood. Designers use white space to create a path for the eye to follow to make the areas of text and images stand out. Overcrowded designs usually result in graphic elements competing with one another. The eye gets lost; the brain switches off, and attention is gone.

It is overwhelming for our brains to understand a large amount of information all at once. That's why it is crucial to space the information out appropriately. The eye will have more time to assimilate the information and fewer chances to miss important messages.

2. Creates visual harmony

We can compare white space to silence in music. It helps create a moment for the eye to rest, take a breath. In the right proportion with the content, white space helps build the structure of the composition. Without structured moments of silence, music is just noise. The same applies to graphic design. White space allows a piece of communication to be pleasant to consume.

3. Brings elegance

The top luxury brands of this world have always been making great use of white space. Our brains, therefore, associate white space with elegance and prestige. On the other hand, we associate crowded layouts with loud (and cheap!) brands – think of the latest deals you saw in the stack of mail drops you received this week.

Make a lasting impact

In summary, white space is crucial to create hierarchy and structure in design. It has the power to not only improve the overall quality of your communications but make a lasting impact on how your brand is perceived.

Want more?

If you would like us to assess your marketing pieces or have a flyer, brochure, poster, or any other communication piece that is not performing as well as you would like, we provide free design consultations. You can book a time here.

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