Space It Out!

Blog logo-from Jacci Adams

I am a graphic designer, so I get a little annoyed when I see an advertisement that looks like something my kindergartner drew, crayon or not. I not only like advertisements to look pretty; they also have to have that “wow!” factor. This advertisement is a representation of your business, right? So why would you not want that representation to be all that and a bag of chips?

Why not, indeed.

Over the last 14 years of my career I still see a particular violation in full force. It is almost as if either designers have decided they do not care because the client does not care (which I find hard to believe), or the client is creating their own advertising and is not aware of this violation. What I am not a fan of, and still see quite a lot of to this day, is the lack of consideration given to a graphic designer’s best friend: white space.

White space is a graphic designer’s best friend. Proper usage indicates balance between all the elements and allows for “breathing room” for the viewer so they do not feel cramped. Also, when used properly, white space can add a sense of urgency to the product or service you are advertising.

It is also important to note that, even if white space is being used correctly, do not butt the text right up to the border of the page or advert. The border creates two visuals: 1) an important place that contains very important information; 2) a stopping point for reading. Unfortunately, when text is jammed right up to the border, the latter occurs, and the rest of your advert may not be read.

The most notable use of white space I can remember is the magazine and billboard adverts for ING. It made a great teaser, as nobody could tell what is was, thereby making us wait impatiently to find out what ING was all about. The television commercials they soon adopted were a similar nature, but of the absence of information – again, thereby tugging us along until the full nature of ING was released.

Now it’s your turn! Please post a link to the best and worst uses of white space you have seen in the past decade. A snapshot of a website counts.

Cheers,
Lisa

Document Design 101: Text Box

Blog logo-from Jacci Adams

Designing a document for print sounds pretty easy: you put some text together on a page, add a photo or some clipart, slip in a small call-out box and – whammo! Instant document design.

It can be this easy, but there’s a few simple steps to remember. I’ll explore these over the next couple of days. Today I’m going to talk about that call-out box in my example.

A call-out box is nothing more than a box shaded 20% with black text. Sometimes it is designed with a dark background and white text. The basic function is to call attention to specific information. A good example of this are the little boxes newspapers sometimes use when describing a new movie review: the box may contain information about the name of the movie, rating given by the movie industry, main cast of characters and a short synopsis. This information is treated in this manner so the viewer can easily find it. The call-out box can also be a light-shaded box following the long margin of a document with text inside. The size of the box doesn’t matter, but the visual appeal does.

In order to make this box visually effective, you have to leave some space between the edgs of the box and the edges of the text box. This can be done by either by increasing the paragraph margins by one-eighth of an inch on all four sides, or by adding some inset spacing to the text box on all four sides. The number isn’t hard and fast; you can add or subtract space to make it visually appealing, but do add some space. If the text butts up against the sides of the call-out box, the viewer’s eyes tend to stop reading. Adding space allows for continuity and flow, and helps the text look great in print.

Cheers,
Lisa