Professional Writing Tip: Why White’s Important Too


Did I hook you with that controversial headline?

Good! We’ve got a very important topic to discuss, and while we are going to get into diversity and inclusion, it has nothing to do with race. What we need to talk about today is white space and how your emails, articles and websites might be suffering from a lack of it.

Every written presentation you ever put together is automatically going to be made up of a combination of visual factors: text, maybe some images and white space.

When I say images, I mean pictures, graphics or videos. And text, of course, concerns any word or set of words you put down.

But what’s white space? Half the time, even extremely educated professionals have no idea what I’m talking about when I use that term. So white space is simply anywhere on a page that’s left blank.

It doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t show anything. It’s just white. Or black. Or purple. Basically, whatever chosen background or paper color you went with – if it’s showing through in a boxable chunk, it’s white space.

Who cares?

The answer is anyone and everyone who looks at what you’ve compiled.

Well-managed white space makes the larger page more engaging and therefore more profitable. To see how, just consider the following marketing copy, taken from a previous version of www.InnovativeEditing.com:

My name is Jeannette DiLouie, and I’m a skilled wordsmith with more than 10 years of experience in creative editing, nine years in professional editing, three years of collegiate editing, and additional time spent working with magazines. I have my B.A. in English from Messiah College, where I also minored in history, and I’m self-taught in areas such as politics, religion, psychology and certain scientific studies. In other words, I'm confident I can help you strengthen your written presentation, no matter the subject.

Now, those are all good choices. Yet they lose something all strung together in one block paragraph like that. I wouldn’t blame you one bit if your eyes glazed over or if you stopped reading it altogether, jumping to the next paragraph down instead.

But look at it again after I add some white space in there – just a single line break between the last and second-to-last sentences:

My name is Jeannette DiLouie, and I’m a skilled wordsmith with more than 10 years of experience in creative editing, nine years in professional editing, three years of collegiate editing, and additional time spent working with magazines. I have my B.A. in English from Messiah College, where I also minored in history, and I’m self-taught in areas such as politics, religion, psychology and certain scientific studies.

In other words, I'm confident I can help you strengthen your written presentation, no matter the subject.

Stands out a bit better that way, doesn’t it?

What makes white space so powerful is that it’s a very diverse tool. In the example above, the paragraph break I added not only gives readers a visual pause, allowing both their eyes and brains to rest for a moment, but it also serves to emphasize my main point…

Which is you.

I want the focus to be on you and what you can get out of Innovative Editing. I really don’t care about pointing out my accomplishments unless it’s to make you feel better about signing up or signing on with me.

That means I genuinely don’t mind if you skim over my resume listings. Because of this, that information is presented in a normal-sized paragraph. There’s nothing that stands out about it in a strictly visual sense.

Instead, I want to draw your eye to the benefits you can get: that single-line paragraph that offers you a stronger, more compelling copy to offer your clients and potential clients.

Naturally, you can overuse white space just as badly as you can overuse text or images. There’s a time and a place to employ it, which oftentimes depends on the subject matter, the medium and the message.

But when you include more than just the standard paragraph chunks and textbook formatting, you can make your message stand out so much better and get such an improved response – for the simple reason that you’ve offered a more engaging, visually varied presentation.

Isn’t diversity a beautiful thing?

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