10 ways to utilize white space in your content

Estimated reading time
3 minutes
26th January 2022
Author: Sabrina Stubbs
Posted in: Content Production, Psychology & Science, The Turtl Product

White space, also referred to as negative space, is simply the empty space between objects in a design. Despite the term, white space does not need to be white. It just needs to be free of focal points like text or imagery. Consequently, you could describe it as ‘intentional nothingness’.

It’s an important factor of composition in graphic design and can help to improve reader experience by reducing cognitive load and increasing the visual appeal of a layout. In short, applying these principles in your future content (maybe even a Turtl Doc or two) will really help your content look and read beautifully.

1. Find the Grid 🔳🔲

Massimo Vignelli and Josef Muller-Brockmann, two of the world’s most influential graphic designers, swore by the grid systems. In fact, lots of design software (including Turtl) find grids so important that they include easy-to-use switches and overlays. For example, at Turtl, you can turn on your Immerse page grid by clicking the far left symbol below in the Immerse editor. how to activate gridlines in Turtl

2. Have Restraint 🔗

More often than not, we are inclined to fill empty space in a layout. When there is too much happening on a page, readers can easily disengage. As a result, this could increase bounce rates as readers prefer visually pleasing content, with enhanced readability. Be brave, resist this urge, and reserve a portion of the layout to be free of any visual information. Your audience isn’t looking for eye strain or visual overload. When done correctly, the results are stunning.

3. Create Contrast 📖

The play between negative and positive space creates contrast and enhances the visual appeal. Reflect on using large, dark display text against white space – the reader’s eye is drawn in immediately.

an book with white space around the bold black quote "All art is relationships, all art. That is how you have to begin."

4. Discover Balance ⚖️

Finding the balance between sparse and crowded can be a common challenge. Our advice; practice makes perfect! Not enough white space can look cluttered. However, too much white space and it can seem as though the document is unfinished. Keeping paragraphs short and to the point can improve readability on smaller screens, such as mobile phones. For help with spacing, use browser extensions such as Grammarly, Outwrite and Wordtune.

5. Start Small 🐛

Leading on from finding balance, it often helps to identify the minimum copy needed for a page. Then just build the layout up from there.

quote about white space - Jan Tschichold: White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.

6. Spread It Out 🦅

Don’t be afraid to spread your wings (and the content) over more pages instead of cramming it into as few pages as possible. It makes it easier for readers who skim (or as we at Turtl say ‘surf’) to take away key information.

7. Visual Storytelling 🎥

A picture tells a thousand words. Pair striking visual elements with the copy to complement the content and enhance reader engagement. We’ve even dedicated a whole blog post to design resources for those needing extra guidance.

an example of white space use alongside pictures - screenshot of the "tech accessibility as a human right" article

8. Focal Point 🎯

Leave a healthy amount of white space around elements that you wish to draw attention to, as in a CTA (call to action) or product offer.

9. Rule of Thirds 💅

The rule of thirds principle works wonders in photography, but many forget it works wonders in design too.  The rule of thirds is a compositional guideline that breaks an image down into thirds so you have nine pieces from four gridlines.

According to the rule, by positioning key elements along the gridlines, you’ll end up with better compositions that show energy, balance, and dynamics. Additionally, the four gridlines intersect at “power points” which the eye is drawn towards. So what you choose to do with this knowledge is up to you …

10. Push Boundaries 💡

Layouts that at first seem ‘difficult’ or ‘uncomfortable’ often turn out to be the most effective of them all. Like most things, when you spend enough time perfecting a project, the quality will be better. Consider elements of accessibility and personalization, and remember that all rules can be broken if it’s for the right reasons.

Find out more and see examples of beautiful white space in action within our full guide:

Turtl