Slidegenius, Inc.

Why White Space Looks Good in Presentation Design

Amateur designers tend to overdo their work. They cram every good idea they have into one design, leaving no area untouched. In their determination to not waste any space, they end up creating a noisy composition that buries the most important graphic elements. The result? Clutter, confusion, and chaos.

Fixing a sloppy work is simple in principle, although it’s not exactly easy to execute. As a graphic designer, all you need to do is maximize the use of an element called “white space,” which is a misnomer because it doesn’t necessarily refer to a white space. In fact, it can be any color, texture, or pattern, as long as it’s an unmarked area that makes the crucial points of a composition stand out.

White space is also known as “negative space” because it makes the “positive space” pop by shrinking in the background and remaining there unnoticed. Its general purpose is to provide a breather for the eyes so that viewers can easily scan a page and find what they need. Still, despite the crucial role that this element plays, it’s still overlooked and underrated at times.

Let’s give white space its own deserved spotlight. Let’s look at it not only from an aesthetic angle but also from a practical perspective. What do you say?

The Two Levels of White Space

There are two levels of white space according to density, ratio, proportion, and general purpose: macro and micro.

  • Macro White Space. Obviously, macro white space is larger in volume compared to its counterpart. Plus, it’s easier to notice because it occupies the bigger portion of a given space. Its main purpose is to emphasize the focal points in a composition and give them structure, and its asymmetrical nature allows it to lend any work a more dynamic and candid look.
  • Micro White Space. This refers to the white space that exists naturally between letters, words, lines, grid images, and other smaller graphic elements. Its main purpose is to direct the flow and order of the content to make for a legible and neat composition.

The Advantages of Using White Space

You’d think the advantages of using white space are obvious, but some presentation designers still overlook them. For good measure, go over them here again to fully internalize the importance of this presentation design element.

1. Improves readability and comprehension

The average attention span of a human being is not as long as it used to be, so if you want to attract and keep your viewers’ attention, you need to give them a good reason to stay. One way to do this is by making it easy for them to navigate through your content. Reduce clutter and design a slide in such a way that the viewers can easily find what they’re looking for. Aim for better comprehension and readability. When people have a full grasp of what you’re trying to communicate, they’re more likely to stay and find out what else you have in store for them.

2. Draws the eyes to the most important points

When used properly, white space can minimize distractions and draw the eyes to the presentation’s central points. The human brain tends to put emphasis on design elements surrounded by white space since they essentially cue the audience as to where they should be looking. When you use white space to lead users from one design element to another, you can sell your main points faster and more effectively.

3. Adds a sense of superiority to the design

In the age of digital media, first impressions matter so much more than ever before. To imprint a good brand image on the mind of your audience, you should master the art of simplicity and minimalism. By using white space liberally and masterfully, you can lend finesse and elegance to your PowerPoint deck. Just take Apple and Starbucks for example. These brands glorify the “less is more” principle, and as a result, their products are considered as the paragon of luxury and sophistication.

On the other hand, less effective presentations tend to cram a hodgepodge of things into one tight space. Too many elements clashing with one another tends to cheapen a slide deck’s overall look. Remember, a tidy and uncluttered space looks more impressive than a heavily packed one. Give your content some breathing space and let it speak for itself.

4. Strikes a balance between texts and images

While the lack of white space results to confusion, an excess of it gives off the impression of incompleteness. Be mindful of how you apply white space lest you look incompetent by under- or overusing it. Aim to strike a balance between the different elements in your presentation design. Keep in mind what Mads Soegaard, the editor-in-chief in The Interaction Design Foundation, said, “White space is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience…. For that, the white space is the real star of the show, working between the words and the pictures. It keeps each page from looking busy.”

So, there you have it—everything you need to know to care about white space. Now equipped with such knowledge, you shouldn’t look at this design element as “empty space” anymore. Your improved understanding of the role of white space in presentation design should allow you to put it into better use. Remember, the things you leave out are just as important as those you use.

Resources:

Cao, Jerry, et al. “Why White Space is Crucial to UX Design.” Fast Company Design. May 28, 2015. www.fastcodesign.com/3046656/why-white-space-is-crucial-to-ux-design

Lana, Michelle. “Why Whitespace Is So Important in Web Design.” Segue Technologies. September 10, 2015. www.seguetech.com/whitespace-web-design

Soegaard, Mads. “The Power of White Space.” Interaction Design Foundation. n.d. www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/the-power-of-white-space

Turnbull, Connor. “Using White Space (or Negative Space) in Your Designs.” Envato Tuts Plus. July 19, 2011. webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/using-white-space-or-negative-space-in-your-designs–webdesign-3401

“White Space in Graphic Design, and Why It’s Important.” Printwand. n.d. www.printwand.com/blog/white-space-in-graphic-design-and-why-its-important

Always End Your Business Presentations with a Call-to-Action

If an introduction piques the audience’s interest, a call-to-action turns possible leads into sales. Speakers usually focus more on creating a catchy introduction than a closing paragraph. Its role in converting audience interest into results is sometimes overlooked in business presentations.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

Your deck’s ending statement is your last chance to leave an impact. At its most effective, it can lead your audience into acting favorably. Done haphazardly, it can either confuse or leave them hanging.

Keep Your Message Concise and Consistent

Before creating a call-to-action, refer back to your slides. Make sure they’re unified and clearly reflecting your business presentation’s main goal.

Include hints in your earlier slides so your call-to-action better fits your presentation deck. This implies your deck is building up to something important.

Provide Materials for Concrete Action

Successful persuasion means giving your audience tools to rely on. Provide concrete information including your website, phone number, and email address.

A call-to-action must include your contact details or it misses the entire point. Even if you’ve convinced them, giving them no way to contact you results in wasted opportunities.

Design the Slide for Maximum Impact

Your call-to-action slide shouldn’t rely completely on your writing but should also be visually attractive and memorable. Draw your audience’s attention by using large font statements, preferably in boldface.

Maximizing the white space onscreen makes the text more legible and striking. The fewer distracting elements they see, the more likely they’ll properly focus on and digest your message.

Conclusion

Communication without results is wasted effort.

Ending your slide with “Thank You” is not a powerful way to finish your speech. Always insert an effective call-to-action to consistently get the results you need.

Looking for more information on designing an effective business presentation? Book a meeting with our presentation design experts. All it takes is fifteen minutes.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

References

4 Important Reasons to use WhitespaceSlideGenius. Vimeo.
Marketing Presentation Mistakes That Are Costing You Clients.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed May 27, 2015.
Why Your Calls-to-Action Are SO Important.” White Hat Media. Accessed May 27, 2015.

 

Featured Image: With a Megaphone by a Wall by Garry Knight on flickr

Consider the Eyes: White Space in Great Presentation Design

Ever stopped to take a longer look at an advertisement and recalled information even hours after seeing it?

If your answer is yes, then you just experienced effective graphic design.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

Graphic design uses time-tested rules based on how human eyes perceive and interpret information.

According to University of Toronto’s Roger Martin, employing design thinking can also help businesses plan for effective and efficient communication by deciding what visual elements are necessary, what they look like, and where they should be placed.

However, there’s one visual element that continues to confuse a lot of beginning presenters: space.

What is White Space?

White space (also known as negative space) is the absence of any distinct object or shape in a layout. When printed materials still dominated information sharing, publishers made the most out of the available layout space because of high publishing costs. This is why newspapers, paperbacks, and most textbooks still look the way they do today—crammed with as much text and image that can fit.

As most information is now transmitted and consumed digitally, designers no longer worry about wasting paper, allowing designers to use more white space. This shift in the use of space benefits your layout in many ways.

How White Space Affects the Viewer

White spaces impart a sense of cleanliness to a page. Restraining yourself from adding visible elements avoids cluttering your slides, confusing viewers, and burying important messages.

The absence of discernible objects also conveys openness. White space invites your audience to participate in the discussion and be more engaged as listeners.

How White Space Aids Your Design

  • Relaxes your audience’s eyes

The eyes’ muscles relax when there’s nothing to focus on. This regulates your audience’s mental stamina and safeguards their capacity to be attentive for longer.

  • Groups similar or related elements together

When there is a uniform amount of space among them, shapes are perceived as similar. This is a great way to organize multiple elements without adding objects such as bounding boxes to the slide.

whitespace1

  • highlights important elements

Shapes that are clearly separated by space are highlighted and further emphasized. You can use this for recapping, summarizing, or focusing.

whitespace2

  • Makes your design classier

This effect is tied to how white space was treated in print media’s heyday when publications tried to fit as much content as possible in available pages. Consequently, publications that wanted to exude a more exclusive feel were more charitable with space.

whitespace3 whitespace4

How Apple Mastered White Space

Flooding your space with content causes discomfort in viewers, as this actual website example demonstrates:
whitespace7

Conversely, Apple’s website uses white space to elevate their products’ perceived quality. Their website is a perfect example of simple design for both products and collateral:

whitespace5

 

Practice restraint. Don’t saturate your slides with images and text in the hopes that it’ll improve information sharing and memory retention. It won’t fill in the gaps between supporting data and great presentation design techniques.

Adding too many elements in one space makes text less legible and important images less visible. Effective designs leave viewers with enough space to breathe and translate your visuals into lasting and actionable knowledge.

Resist the temptation to fill your slides with frills. Fewer elements make more of a lasting impact.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

References:

Martin, Roger. “What Is Design Thinking Anyway?Design Observer. September 28, 2009. Accessed May 14, 2015.
Using White Space in PowerPoint Design-a Closer Look.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 4, 2014. Accessed May 14, 2015.

Using White Space in PowerPoint Design—a Closer Look

In our previous discussion on some of the best PowerPoint design practices, we mentioned the importance of creating white spaces in your slide designs. We thought it would be useful to take a closer look at this concept.

What is white space, and how can presenters wield it effectively when building their PowerPoint decks?

SlideGenius Blog Module One

We redesign PowerPoint presentations.

Get your free quote now.

get a free quote

White space is necessary to creating a well-balanced and harmonious design. By leaving negative spaces in your design, you’ll get rid of clutter that could distract your audience. Steven Bradley of  Vanseo Design came up with an interesting analogy that underscores this point.

Try to imagine every note playing at the same time or being played so quickly that there’s no distinction between one note and the next. You wouldn’t have music. You’d have a solid wall of noise. As Zappa said, “There’s gotta be enough space in there.” You have to leave room for the sounds to be distinguished from each other, to be heard for what they are.

A few notes played together form a chord. All notes played together form noise. To create rhythm and melody requires a measured and planned space. Music isn’t sound. It’s a balance between sound and space. Without both there is no music.

Without spaces in music, your favorite song won’t make much sense. With the notes garbled together, you’ll simply end up with noise. The same thing can happen when your design lacks white space. The space between different elements is also important to design. If a single slide is filled with different things that have little to no space in between, the audience won’t know where to focus their attention.

The importance of white space in PowerPoint design

Apart from bringing focus to your PowerPoint presentations, there are plenty of other reasons why white space is important to slide design. According to Bradley, white space does three main things. You can think of these as the more practical application of white space in your designs.

First, using white spaces allow you to group the elements of your design together. White spaces also allow you to create emphasis and hierarchy between the elements of your design. Lastly, it improves the  readability  and clarity of your design. All in all, white space helps your audience understand the structure and logic in a single slide.

Other than these practical reasons, white space is also important to the aesthetics or overall look of your PowerPoint design. In both print and web design, white space can create a feeling of luxury and sophistication. As Connor Turnbull of Tuts+ writes,

White space can add a feeling of sophistication and luxury into a generic webpage by creating the feeling that the product is more important than the real estate it lives in. It can make a product look luxurious by using the “less is more” principle. When you look at Apple’s website – a brand that we regard as being in the more premium end of computing – there is very little needed, as the products speak for themselves, albeit alongside some minimalist taglines. This is a phenomenon that is also popular with premium health and well being websites where little content is needed to communicate the general idea of the product or service advertised.

Other common associations made with white space was also pointed out by Bradley. Aside from luxury, quality, and sophistication, white space can also convey the following meanings:

  • Cleanliness
  • Spirituality
  • Purity
  • Openness
  • Calmness
  • Solitude

If these concepts are important to the topic or theme of your presentation, it becomes especially important to consider the effective use of white space in your slides.

Analyzing the use of white space in sample slides

Having discussed the importance of white space, it’s time to learn how to use it effectively. There’s more to it than making sure there’s enough space in each of your slide. Creating white space should be a deliberate choice that helps bring balance and focus in your design.

Micro and macro white space

Technically, there are two different types of white space. As its name suggests, micro white space refers to the smaller spaces that separate different elements. It could be the space between the items you’ve listed in bullet points, the lines of text that make up a paragraph, or an image and its caption. As Mark Boulton points out in an article  on A List Apart, it’s the “itty-bitty stuff.”  On the other hand,  macro white space refers to what’s in between major or larger elements in the design composition.

White Space Sample 01

By creating enough micro space between the lines of text, the audience can easily read what this slide is about. It amount of micro space in the main text also gives the slide a more streamlined appearance, which coincides with the idea it’s pitching. Meanwhile, the macro space allows the audience to take in each part of the slide more carefully. It also allows the logo and tagline to stand out even more.

Passive and active white space

White space can also be either passive or active. Passive white space refers to fixing the space between elements to make sure design remains balanced and symmetrical. That could mean making sure that your margins remain consistent throughout your presentation. Alternately, active white space refers to creating white space that is asymmetrical or inconsistent with the rest of the composition. This helps you create more emphasis and interest for the focal point of your slide.

White Space Sample 02

The passive spaces in this slide are in between the different picture. You’ll also notice that the amount of space between the pictures and the top of slide are consistent. That also falls under passive space. In both instances, the equal and consistent spacing gives the design a cleaner look. Meanwhile, the green rectangular shape that bears the logo and title of the presentation obviously stands out because there’s active white space around it.

Boulton points out that effective use of white space lies in constant practice. Take the time to look through some of the other sample slides in our portfolio. Observe how the different types of white spaces are use to create the overall look and feel of the design.

Make sure you keep these terminologies in mind when you’re building your slides. You can learn more about using white space by reading these resources in full:

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

Featured Image: Death to the Stock Photo

The Importance of White Space in PowerPoint Designs

In visual arts, white space refers to the unmarked portion of a page or the empty space in-between content. This graphic design element, however, is more than just a passive by-product of a layout design. White space helps create balance and harmony, allowing a canvas or page to look more appealing.

White space is also great for one important purpose. According to designer Corina Ciripitca, graphic artists use it to guide the viewers’ eye and lead them from one element on the page to another. You can also apply this principle to your PowerPoint designs.

Greater impact

Also known as negative or blank space, white space (though, it doesn’t always have to be white) is added to a layout in order to create better structure. As a result, the text or image that the space surrounds generates greater impact. Just look at the sample below: white space  

The image, one of Volkswagen‘s famous ads, utilizes white space to effectively convey its message. Compared to a cluttered design, the advertisement retains only the most essential parts of its message, leaving room for the viewer’s gaze to rest.

This avoids sensory overload, which, similar to information overload, defeats the point of communicating to the audience. Too many things going on can overwhelm your audience and bury all the information under superficial details.

Less clutter

With your slide design, leaving plenty of white space can make a lot of difference. In fact, white space has made such an impact on the design industry that Smashing Magazine‘s Vitaly Friedman and a few other writers wrote extensively on the topic.

It makes the text as legible as possible while allowing images to capture attention. This means that there’s no need to fill your slide’s empty areas with logos or other pointless graphics or text that do not add to your key points. The less cluttered your slides look, the more powerful your message will become.

Better appreciation

Putting too much text and images can drown out the key points on your slides. When used strategically, the white space on your slides will inform your audience instantly where to look. Apart from making your layout easier to follow, it also offers the eye a visual rest. Using white space in PowerPoint designs is probably one of the easiest ways to add impact to your slides. As you put enough blank space

As you put enough blank space around an image or text, you emphasize their importance. In turn, they capture your audience’s attention. Ultimately, even if you don’t know anything about layout design, mastering the use of white space in PowerPoint designs can significantly improve the way you create your slides.

Craft a winning PowerPoint with a simple deck that doesn’t flood the audience’s eyes. Once you’re through with this, you can focus on your pitch and polish your overall presentation.

References

Ciripitca, Corina. “Why Is White Space Good For Graphic Design.” Designmodo. October 13, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2014.
Friedman, Vitaly. “White Space and Simplicity: An Overview.” Smashing Magazine. January 12, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2014.