Dec 21 | Dan, Creative Director
If you’re not in the commercial art business, the words “white space” may conjure images of the Siberian tundra in January. Not so. White space is actually a graphic design concept that, while little known outside art circles, can have a big impact on the appearance and effectiveness of an advertisement.
Essentially, white space is any portion of an ad that contains no text or graphic. Take a sheet of copier paper and color a small square in the middle. What lies outside of the square: that’s white space.
So what’s the importance or value of white space? Loosely explained, the theory is that clean layouts and graphic designs attract attention because of what’s not there—the visual clutter of dense text, charts, graphs, etc. The human eye, so the thinking goes, is attracted to simplicity—hence the incorporation of white space (or negative space as it’s sometimes called) in a layout.
Of course, this doesn’t mean an ad should be nothing more than a blank page with a logo. In fact, there are times when all available space in an ad should be filled up—say, for instance, an ad announcing a sale on 99 different auto parts at an auto parts store. Used sensibly and judiciously however, white space can create a visually arresting, attention-getting ad.
So, how do you determine the appropriate use of white space in your ads? As with most artistic techniques, there are no fast and firm rules, but here are a few suggestions:
• Commit from the beginning to creating an ad that delivers a focused message. Ads that cram in too many messages—“Here are 73 things you should know about our products!”—often communicate none.
• Create several layout options and eyeball them. Which one stands out from a visual viewpoint? Which one does the best job attracting your attention?
• Ask yourself: does the layout you’ve selected do the best job of communicating the message you want to convey? This may seem like a no-brainer, but the extra scrutiny you give to text and visuals is worth the effort.
For examples of how to use white space in advertising, go to www.pat-bach.com. As you’ll see, sometimes “less can be more” in creating an ad that looks great—and works beautifully.