How to Make Professional Looking Pages: The Proper Use of White Space

I’m a musician (kind of) and have played in ensemble settings long enough to know that music can be made a lot more effective by knowing when NOT to play as well as when actually making some sound.

Skillful musicians and composers use the silences in the song to lend more power to song’s content.  Good music uses tempo, volume and silence to add drama to the song. And that’s what it’s all about. If you want to be remembered, add drama. It speaks to the heart and provides emotional impact.

White space example

There's no need to fill up the page with type as in this example. It's a visual turn-off - looks like too much work to read.

We want our page layouts to have that impact as well. There’s a real connection between musical silences and the use of white space on the printed page. You can use the white space to create interest, to direct attention a certain way, and in all cases create a more impactful publication. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.

Take a look at the top example. There’s lots of information there, and it’s organized enough.  But it’s pretty dense and uninteresting to look at. Making the length of the article end where you want it to can be problematic as well.

What if you’re over or under by a paragraph?

better use of white space

This is much better. The white space adds emphasis to everything else on the page and breaks the information up into more digestible chunks. Definitely easier on the eyes!

A more elegant solution would be to spread the article over two pages. You can use the white space to create more interest while having a little more flexibility in fitting your copy into the page.

The use of white space also allows you to make better use of the Rule of Thirds to add even more interest to the page. When you’ve got some empty real estate, you have options.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with the empty places; they can add a lot of punch to your layout. Have fun!