“White Space” is just as important as the graphics and the copy

White SpaceIf you ever had the chance to work in an advertising agency where the copywriters and graphic designers slave away at creating the right combination for your print advertisement, you would likely hear the phrase:

“Make more white space!”

  • What does it mean?
  • Why would art and copy people want less art and copy by providing more white space?

It is all about what the eye sees and how much the brain can take in at one time. White space in advertising serves the same purpose as “negative space” in fine art and portraits. It is that space that forces the eye to see what you intend it to see. If there is not enough negative space, or white space, then the eyes and brain have trouble settling on what is important and needs to be viewed first.

As a general rule, layout in advertisements, as well as landing pages on websites, breaks down to:

  • 60% – 65% illustrations / art
  • 20% – 25% copy / text
  • 10% Headlines / subheads
  • 5% for logo and company information

However, the total of all that usage should not exceed 80% and probably less. That means 20% to 30% of the image should be should be unfettered with copy or illustration.

Copy and graphics need to be positioned where eyes and brain expect it. Eye tracking for almost all people in our society starts in the upper left corner and then tracks in a double-Z pattern to the bottom right of the page. By using this knowledge, the white space can be arranged to guide that somewhat natural instinct. Also, knowing that pattern, allows you to anticipate where to put the greatest emphasis on your message by placing it in the upper left and the corporate addresses and contact information in the lower right. Also located near the top should be important links and offers.

The next time you review an ad or a landing page, notice what your eyes do. If you find that you are not sure what the pattern is, maybe it is time to call, “More white space!”