We often spend so much time talking about what goes into a design that we forget the importance of what to leave out. Your use of space – and how you allow your design to breathe – will make or break your layout.

In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 ways to use space more effectively. Follow these tips for an aesthetically compelling and easy-to-read design. Forget it and you’ll be left with a convoluted mess of imagery and text.

1. Mastering feng shui


While feng shui is commonly brought up in conversations about furniture arrangement, it actually applies to graphic design in a big way. It can be said that all graphic design elements exist in relation to one another and their surrounding environment.

With that said, an envelope design project such as the example above could be seen almost as a furniture arrangement from a top-down perspective. Notice how, through rearrangement, Bedow was able to create a comfortable “living space” that utilizes the flow of feng shui.

2. Activate empty space


There are many ways to “activate” empty space. In the example above, a communication is created between all four design elements by aligning aspects of each to an invisible guideline that runs vertically up and down the page.

This line connects the objects through the empty black space and suddenly defines that space as a medium of visual communication. Can you feel these objects communicating through the space that surrounds them? This feeling is one of activation, where the space is being utilized.

3. Awareness of negative space


In the example above there is a powerful juxtaposition between white space which simple exists as empty space, and white space which takes shape and form.

This can be especially felt in the white diamonds that exist in the top-center of the page. These shapes could be said to be theoretically non-existant, yet are defined by the red ink around them. This design makes a strong point out of turning empty space into distinguishable forms.

4. Recognizing the space beyond the page


To think that the size of a design is confined to the size of a page is a misconception. The space in which a design uses is entirely up to a designer’s imagination, regardless of page size.

In the design example above, the word “Vuhl” exists largely in the space off the page, activating a space that doesn’t even really exist! It implies to the viewer that these letterforms exist in entirety even if you do not see them with your eyes. The space beyond the page is up for grabs, it just requires some imagination.

5. Create invisible elements


In the design example above, the letters “O”, “P”, and “X” create the perception of a square that almost exists between positive and negative space. It is both invisible and identifiable at the same time. This use of space offers a unique “hook” for the Topix logo and for those who view it.

6. “Throw a wrench” into space


In the design above a “wrench” is thrown into what space is in graphic design. The section of the book object which typically never has running text or overflow is completely embraced in an intentional and unconventional way.

The dimensionality of book cover design is almost denied completely, raising many questions, abstractions and curiosities to the viewer. This use of space is intriguing and therefore quite effective!

7. Things can be tight


Another common misconception about space is that it has to breathe and be comfortable. This is not true. Often times art and even life itself is very uncomfortable. It is perfectly appropriate to reflect that in graphic design.

In the example above the word “invitation” is crammed down the left side of the page, which in relation gives the central form even more of a bubbling, space filling nature. These design decisions in regard to space are effective in their clear intention.

8. Identifying the beginning and end


Space can also be thought of in regard to where it begins and where it ends. In the example above, the design almost creates a loop through “non-existent” space, completing on the opposite side of the page. This is one of infinite creative ways to define the beginning and end in a design.

9. Take a journey through the space


In the example above, space is approached quite simply – laying the backdrop for content. The way this use is effective however is in how the content brings the viewer through that space using symbols and color. The design offers the viewer paths and options for which to explore the space in the design.

10. Depth, layers, and the third dimension


In the flatness of computer screens and even of paper or print mediums it is easy to forget that the third dimension is available to us. Designers have the ability to reach into the paper and create designs in that depth of space.

The poster design above does this very effectively by using a photographic element to define certain words as being in the foreground and others in the background.


Space is abstract, open to interpretation and ultimately willing to do anything a designer’s imagination can make it do. The examples above are just a small sampling of these possibilities. The concepts in this articles can be built upon or even used as a catapult to new concepts about space!

Have ideas to add? Comment below!