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In page layout, illustration and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is that portion of a page left unmarked: the space between graphics, margins, gutters, space between columns, space between lines of type or figures and objects drawn or depicted. The term arises from graphic design practice, where printing processes generally use white paper.

White space should not be considered merely 'blank' space — it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all, the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative spaces is key to aesthetic composition.

When space is at a premium, such as some types of magazine, newspaper, and yellow pages advertising, white space is limited in order to get as much vital information on to the page as possible. A page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of appearing busy, cluttered, and is typically difficult to read. Some designs compensate for this problem through the careful use of leading and typeface.

Judicious use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance. For example, upscale brands often use ad layouts with little text and a lot of white space. Inexpert use of white space can make a page appear incomplete.

See also

Composition (visual arts)

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