White Space: When it's good, when it's bad and when it's ugly

White space is an often misunderstood, often misused element of design that definitely comes into play when laying out an image and information heavy project, like a yearbook. There are keys to using white (or negative) space wisely and correctly to make your layouts more pleasing to the eye and even more organized! Sometimes it's difficult to recognize the benefit of leaving some space negative when you're trying to pack as much information as you can into each and every layout. Let's take a look at some examples that will help illustrate the positive of the negative!

Above is an example of a layout using white space well. The page looks anything but empty, but still looks clean, well organized and interesting.

Below is the exact same layout with a background added. The white space from above is now just 'negative space'...or space that isn't being used by active design elements. The layout is still nice looking and easy to understand. There is a flow that your eye wants to follow through the two pages.

Now, lets move things around just a little. Keeping the same number of image boxes and same amount of text, we'll just spread things out a bit to use up that negative space.

Not nearly as pleasing to look at. Things seem randomly placed on these pages...just to take up space. While we understand, each and every nook and cranny in your yearbook is valuable real estate, there are times, as a budding designer, you need to be brave enough to say 'less is more'. If you have five images and two paragraphs of text that need to take up a two page spread, it's alright to let white space be your friend. Keeping objects consistently spaced and lined up on the same design grid will help ALL layouts look more professional, but these rules are especially important when utilizing white or negative space.

Let's take a look at another example of when white space is a very effective design tool.

Below is an example of a section divider of a high school yearbook.

While very cute and a great idea, it could prove to be a biiiiit much at seventeen inches wide.

Let's take a look at a different approach.

Cleaner. More refined. It looks more like something you would expect from a professional designer as opposed to a yearbook student...which is our goal!

The world of design is filled with examples of white space. For instance, a very popular department store created it's own brand of products to sell in their stores and as simple as the logo and branding is...it's very clean, contemporary and highly recognizeable.

Graphic designers use white space to help lead the eye through layouts and to help keep layouts/projects organized. Increasing the amount of white or negative space between columns or paragraphs can help place a break in topics or ideas.

Last, but certainly not least, using white space around a specific design element can help maintain focus on a primary thought or idea.

Use your space wisely...and if the right situation comes along, don't use it at all! ;)

Happy Designing,

The Idea Garden Team