The first lesson in using negative space (often referred to as white space), is to give structure to a page. Page structure is one of the most basic elements of writing, although it is often treated as an afterthought. In high school, students are taught how to write five paragraph papers, essays, and book reports etc., all of which are required to have one inch margins on each side and be double spaced so that the teacher can easily read and mark them up. This is the use of whitespace at its most basic, and there are set standard margins for business use for this reason too.
Looking at advertisements, or even at the Google Homepage, can give you a vast education in the use of negative space. Let’s look at the Google Homepage for a moment.
Notice how the search bar is centered in a completely white background field. The company name is prominently displayed above the search bar as well as a two interactive buttons. All other options are relegated to a top bar that is off set in the complimentary black color. The first place your eye goes is to the center of the screen – right where Google wants it. Contrast this with the Yahoo landing page:
Here we have several boxes that use whitespace in a different way. The search bar is centered at the top of the screen (the first place people look), and then directly below is a graphic that links to a news story. These are the sections that will be seen immediately. Whitespace and text boxes are used to define other areas of interest and group them into categories. This type of visual segregation makes it easier for a person to navigate the site and find exactly what he or she is looking for. But, what if you want a reader to look at a specific part of a publication or read it in a particular order?