Have you ever applied for a Web site award, and come across the term White Space?
Some people think it’s a NASA program, an degenerative eye condition, or the result of taking a hallucinogen. According to design experts like Grant Crowell, white space is the open space between design elements, and an important layout technique. Text is a design element.
I like to think of placing text the same way Ritz-Carlton chefs present fine food on exquisite tableware. If we offer lots of good text on our sites, but without order and organization, no one may understand what we have to say.
When you’re working with text in a table, use at least six pixels of cellpadding to set it apart from the margins, visible or not. The exception would be if you’re just using one table data cell.
Avoid big chunks of text. Break up your paragraphs into readable elements, keeping in mind that people tend to skim. Large paragraphs are not just confusing, they’re sending a subtle signal that the reader isn’t important.
Verdana and Georgia have a bit more space between letters than Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, etc. If you can afford to use either of these two, do so. They reinforce the idea of more white space. Smallbusiness.com uses Verdana for its body text.
If you need to squeeze your words together a bit more, go with Arial or Times New Roman, making sure to break up the text with lists, blockspacing, etc.
Just for fun, when you’re reading magazines and newspapers and watching TV, look for white space in advertising. Once you catch on to how type can be used in design, you’ll be hooked!