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.
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.