Space — The Final Frontier 

Space. It’s extremely valuable — in offices, in homes, on the subway and bus, and sometimes even in relationships. But when it comes to design, space is critical. Or should I say your use of space. All creative and marketing managers should be aware of my top three space rules.

Space. It’s extremely valuable — in offices, in homes, on the subway and bus, and sometimes in relationships. But when it comes to design, space is critical.

Or should I say your use of space. All creative and marketing managers should be aware of my top three space rules:

1. Too Close to Edges

This is my number one space rule. It’s the first thing I look at when reviewing layouts. How close does the type and art come to the edge of the page? If they are too close:

  • The piece will feel crowded.
  • People will feel overwhelmed.
  • The type will feel hard to read.
  • People will move on to the next item they are reviewing.

Based on the size of your marketing piece, I’d have at least a  3/8” or 1/2” minimum border around the page. See the samples below.

2. Not Close Enough to the Edge

No, this is not a contradiction of my first rule. On certain items, especially letters, you need to go closer to the edge. Most copy is set flush left/rag right. Sometimes the rag on the right side gives the appearance of too much space. Or you need to fit more text on the page or letter. Set your right side border less than your left side. For example, on a letter set the left margin at 1” and the right margin at 3/4”. Because of the copy rag on the right, the appearance of the border will better match the left border space. See the samples below.

3. Space Between Lines

Also called leading, space between lines is the most important spacing on any marketing piece. Too little space and your letter, brochure, flyer or email will seem dense and difficult to read. I always try to have at least 1pt leading. But on a letter I might have 3pt or 4pt leading. The extra space helps our eyes follow the lines of text. On the other hand, too much leading can make the copy feel like it’s falling apart. Leading is a very subtle element. I’ve had projects in which adding a 1/2 pt made a huge difference in the readability. The challenge is to get the right balance between the size of the copy, the line length and the leading. See the samples below.

Space examplesThe Bottom Line

These are my three top space elements that I’ll look at no matter what the design style. In future posts I’ll give you my next space considerations.

I’ve found through the years a lack of space is usually way more of a problem then too much space. But space is an element that can be used in many different ways, and no design rules are set in stone.

So now you have permission to be spacey — never be afraid to use space.

Author: Patrick Fultz

Patrick Fultz is the President/CCO of DM Creative Group, a creative marketing firm producing work across all media. He’s an art-side creative, marketing strategist, designer and lover of all things type. His credentials include a degree from Parsons School of Design with 15 years of teaching at his alma mater, over 40 industry creative awards, and he previously served as President of the John Caples International Awards. Always an innovator, Fultz was credited with creating the first 4-color variable data direct mail piece ever produced. He continues to look for innovative ways to tap the powerful synergy of direct mail, the web, digital and social media.

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