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The (Underappreciated) Power of White Space

May 26, 2011

Today’s post is courtesy of Mark Guarino, president of Guarino Design Group Inc. He has been doing graphic design for the AEC industry since 1980 and has worked with more than 40 AEC firms. Trained as an architect, he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Boston Architectural College. Have a graphic design question for Mark? Just e-mail him at or visit

Are there any gardeners out there? Have you ever thrown a packet of seeds into a patch of earth only to be delighted when a crop of seedlings pops up to catch the springtime rays? Then, as you lovingly water and tend to these little sprouts, you notice they start to struggle and soon wilt and die out. What happened? They started out so well? In a nutshell, they suffocated without adequate room to flourish on their own.

The same is true when it comes to designing a page. Crowding elements together too closely on a page can choke out the relevant information. The eye, and ultimately the brain, can only process so much, no matter how good you are at multi-tasking. So, when a designer crams too much information onto a page, it has to compete with everything else that is on that page. But, when carefully chosen words or imagery are placed strategically and with enough room to breathe, those morsels of information have a greater chance of being absorbed.

White space is often underutilized, and the merits are very much underappreciated – especially when document real estate is at a premium. With word count and page limitations, we often try to put as much on a page as we can. But, with carefully chosen words and strict editing, we can get documents to not only speak intelligently but also to convey importance and hierarchy on a visual dimension that will ultimately get your document to stand out amongst the competition. And, before long, your firm and your market will experience growth throughout the season that far surpasses your competition struggling through its proverbial weeds.

Click on the graphic to view this blog post in a way that illustrates an appropriate use of white space.

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