White Space in Graphic Design: Understanding What it Means and How to Use It

White space in graphic design is an incredibly important element that can help you draw attention to specific areas of the page or control how viewers interact with your design content. With an effective understanding of white space, you can create more effective images.

What Does White Space Mean in Graphic Design?

Despite the name, white space does not necessarily have to be white. Instead, white space is the absence of other design elements in a particular space. It is the space that surrounds other areas of your design and the space between those elements, including the inside spaces of letters.

White space can come in any color and can even be textured. It is, simply, the absence of other design elements within a specific area of your design. Most of the time, white space is used to emphasize or draw attention to other areas of the design.

How to Use White Space in Graphic Design

White space is used for several key purposes in graphic design. Including:

  • Call attention to certain areas
  • Guide the eye through the natural, logical flow of a specific piece
  • Increase legibility of specific design elements
  • Evoke a specific mood or tone in your piece

How much white space you use will depend on the reaction you want to evoke and what you want to highlight in your piece. In general, however, you want to make sure that you have an adequate amount of white space in your piece to catch the eye and increase legibility without missing any important design elements that you want to include.

Consider these elements of white space in your designs.

1. Determine whether you need to use passive or active white space.

Passive white space is just there: the space between other elements of your design. It draws the eye and makes those specific elements of the design more legible without seeming to have an active impact on the overall design. Active white space, on the other hand, is a much larger segment of white space that specifically draws the user's attention. It's often a larger white space within an otherwise active design, used to make a specific segment of the design stand out.

2. Use white space to help separate or group elements.

Effective use of white space can help show which elements of your design go together. For example, you might use it to highlight information about a specific product or to call out information about a publisher. On a comic page, white space goes around each panel to help separate the individual panels. Sometimes, comic designers cut into the traditional, uniform white space to highlight a specific element.

3. Help create the look and tone you're after.

White space can help evoke a feeling of luxury or minimalism, depending on how you use it. You have the space, but you're not choosing to fill it up with unwanted content; instead, you're allowing the image to stand alone. Balanced white space is often associated with quality in many circles.

4. Use white space to help establish hierarchy.

Properly used, white space can help draw attention to specific areas of the piece, increasing them in overall visual importance and letting the viewer know that they need to pay more attention to these specific elements.


By using white space effectively, you can transform the tone of your piece and draw the eye exactly where you want it. CorelDRAW offers several white space options and suggestions, so whether you want a busy piece or a minimalistic one, you can capture the look you're after. Check out CorelDRAW today to learn more about our design options.

Need to Download CorelDRAW?

Download a Free 15-Day Trial Now!