Blank in Design


“What a designer should do is not filling the blank but using it.”     — White(USA)

Blank, also called “virtual space” refers to the space surrounded by other elements. In graphic design, the blank space in a layout can play certain important roles and serve as part of the design space. A good balance of blank can sometimes become the most outstanding and attracting part in a design.


In specific design, a blank space does not always refer to a white space. A blank can be black or any other color. In some cases, people can subconsciously consider the blank as a background.


White, a famous American designer and educator had the following thought in his book “The Elements of Graphic Design”: Have you ever noticed that each expensive high-end store has an open floor plan which can make people feel comfortable, while those cheap stores are always cluttered with goods. In high-end stores, people rarely see more than three pieces commodities at one glance, because little means rare. In cheap stores, all commodities are piled up together because bulk sale is their aim. If we put them contrast compared to volume, then the high-end store can be considered as an elegant talk, while the cheap store is a speeding fire truck with its alarm noising and light flashing. Therefore, a smart use of blank can usually bring people more opportunities to gain a success.


In the design world, the composition of dot, line and surface is the basis of blank space design. Their relations are very similar to the relation between words and phrases in languages. A single word itself can help people express something. After composition, words can further enrich the content of what people want to say. Although in geometry dots, lines and surfaces are considered as something without certain shape, width or thickness, in designing dots have shapes. Different dots, lines and surfaces can form different characters, and the composition of regular and irregular dots, vertical, horizontal and oblique lines, geometric, organic, accidental and irregular surfaces can cause different emotions. When doing specific designs, the effect of all these characters and emotions have to be considered carefully.



If a picture is filled with black for example, people will usually feel rather depressed. However, if you add a white point or white words, then the picture will become a hopeful sign. This white element would play an important role. Although the scale would be small, the effects are eye-catching.


In book design, the use of blank can relieve readers’ visual fatigue by shaping an appropriate reading rhythm. According to the blank of a layout, even the same photos and text can cause different impressions. Mr. LuXun – a famous Chinese author – supported the use of blanks. He once mentioned “I have a habit when writing books, that is, there must be some blanks before the body and after each topic.” He pointed out, that almost each good Chinese or western book has one or two blank pages, and both the top and bottom margins are usually very wide. If no blank is used, then there will be no beauty in a book and reading will become very hard. You might think that blank is kind of an intangible language.


In general, black text and white space can form a visual beauty. Wide top and bottom margins and small text in large areas of space can lead to different rhythms. It encourages imagination and creativity. If blank is not used properly however, it can cause barriers and misunderstanding. Therefore, the assignment of blank space must be balanced and considerate carefully.  If too much blank areas are assigned in a page on the other hand, the number of text of each page will decrease, and the book will be thicker. At the same time, the selling price will also be higher, which not only increases reader’s economic burden but also affect the sales of the books. Therefore, the use of the blank should also consider the real world situation.


In web design, blank is also important. In essence, the blank area is “unused” area. But it’s far from useless, it provides breathing space for other elements and a slick look of the entire page. With the perfect balance of blank space, the center elements look clearer. The more attention it attracts, the better user experience it can provide. Of course, too much blank is also awkward. You have to consider the connection between elements when assigning blanks. If blanks are assigned properly, they can not only maintain the consistency of elements, but also make the entire web page easy to understand, which improves the applicability of a web page.


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