Design 101: All About White Space

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Design 101: All About White Space

May 02, 2017


White space is, very literally, the absence of any image or text. Imagine opening up a new Word document on your computer. What you’re doing is opening up a document of entire white space waiting to be filled. With nuance, however, white space can be used to add to the existing context of a piece. Marketers use white space to convey a message, and very deliberate white space in logo designs have been one of the biggest design trends of the past few years, especially as simplistic and minimalistic design has come to the forefront. Importantly, white space doesn’t need to be colored white. What it is should be considered as is a deliberate absence in order to create a specific meaning.

White Space & Logos 

White space, as the open space in a design, can be either active or passive. Passive white space is accidental, the end product of a design. Active white space, however, means that a designer made the deliberate action to leave space blank to give additional meaning to the design. White space exists to reduce the full amount of visual disturbance the eye perceives when looking at an image.

Why do designers use white space? They might use macro white space or micro white space. The difference here is the amount used affects the way the design is received, with micro, smaller white spaces used to highlight, while macro while space works as more of a means to break up content.

Why white space matters:

  1. Brings the eyes to exactly where they should go
  2. Makes the design look a lot cleaner than if it was cluttered
  3. Allow for balance between all of the design elements and layout
  4. Improves the readability of the design overall
  5. Makes a design elegant, simple, and sophisticated
  6. Focus and emphasis is placed on the objects they should be
  7. Defines the relationships between elements on the page
  8. Encourages imagination to discover what’s in the negative space

When done properly, white space is as important of a design element as any other thing you see on the page. It appeals to the viewer by clearly establishing a hierarchy of where they should look and effectively defines every element on the page. In logo designs, it works to bring in some additional meaning. Especially since symbolism is a huge part of these designs, how does white space create symbolism? Consider how it would apply to icons or surrounding text. The most famous instance of white space is the two faces looking at one another, or the vase in the middle, depending on how you look at it. Knowing why this matters can help anyone understand how to apply this design element into what they’re working on and making white space work effectively for them!