White Space

Graphic design is a process in which we arrange visual elements in order to communicate meaning to the viewer. The visual elements may be text, photographs, drawings, lines, shapes, and backgrounds.

White space is also one of the elements that we need to consider when creating our compositions. Though called "white" space, this part of the design can be any color. It is the area that is not the text/photos/etc.

This space can also be called "negative space", "trapped space" or "activated white space." It is just as important to arrange this part of the design as it is to decide where to place type and images. If the shape, size, and location of white space is not intentionally planned out, it becomes "leftover space" and reduces the effectiveness of our designs.

Below are four examples of a poster announcing the arrival of a panda at a zoo. The first does not consider the arrangement of the elements in the composition. The white space is not planned, and therefore looks random and leftover.

While there is some evidence of ALIGNMENT in the second design, centering all elements pushes the white space to the side, where it becomes leftover. Additionally, centered designs are STATIC, and are generally visually uninteresting.

The third example takes into consideration CONNECTION and ALIGNMENT and the arrangment of the elements is intentional. The white space is now activated and is as important as the other elements in the image. The ASYMMETRY in the design provides some movement and it becomes DYNAMIC.

In the fourth example, the negative space is just as interesting as the positive space. The elements are aligned, and the arrangement leads the viewer's eyes around the image.



Poor use of connections, alignment, and white space.



Also poor use of connections, alignment, and white space.



Intentional use of alignment, connections, and white space.




Dynamic use of alignment, connections, and white space.



© 2006