Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Writing Tip : Why is empty space important?

Why is empty space important?


This article discusses the benefits of including plenty of empty space in your page layouts.
Take a look at an article in one of your favourite glossy magazines. Even on a page that is mostly text, one thing is likely to be true. There's probably a lot of empty space on the page.
For example, the article text may be in two columns when three would fit with a bit of shoving. There may also be a lot of white space up at the top of the page around the title. So why do the editors of glossy magazines frequently leave so much empty space? Are they just dumb? Do they have something against trees?
No; they simply know something that most of us don't. White space (i.e. empty areas) on a page makes it easier to read.
One of the best books I ever read on this subject (and sadly now out of print) was called The Make Over Book. In it, the author (Roger C Parker) provided a series of tips on how to improve a series of sample documents. The very first point he made emphasised the importance of white space. He included these reasons among others:
  • White space is essential to readability. It makes the various elements stand out.
  • White space around the edges of a document leaves thumb areas — places for people to hold your document without obscuring the words.
  • Too often we cover every inch of a page with text. This results in publications that are intimidating and difficult to read.
So next time you're creating a document consider leaving more empty space. Generous margins or fewer columns can make your work easier for your audience to understand.

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