Visual Literacy: Using whitespace when designing graphics

Whitespace principles can be very important when designing graphics.  Linda Lohr (2008) describes key principles to using whitespace when designing graphics that support learning in her book Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance, Lessons in Visual Literacy. 

Lohr states that space used as a tool for clarifying text can do three things:

  • increase reading rate as learners can easily see redundancies
  • helps readers access personally relevant pieces of information
  • enables readers to see the structure of a document

I used these guiding principles to create symmetry and hierarchy in the graphic below by using simple commands in Microsoft Word.  Each of the words related to accessibility vocabulary that the learners needed to become more familiar with in a training I created to teach learners accessibility concepts in Microsoft Word 2010.  I will be sharing some video tutorials on Microsoft Word in a separate blog post to help newby’s and those interested in Section 508 compliance with their documents to help those with disabilities.

Whitespace Project

In the graphic, I used kerning, bullets, and line spacing bullets to create visual separation with the laundry list of vocabulary needed for my project. I created a bit of visual interest using Snagit’s edge tool to make it appear that the words were torn from a page. The drop shadow gives it a bit of depth, and for that I used a light gray so it did not take away from the words.

To learn more about using whitespace principles, check out:

I also found a tip on using smaller and larger font size which makes great use of the whitespace.

The idea of creating structure within Word documents, web pages, and other digital materials are extremely invaluable skills for instructional design, especially because for many projects, Section 508 compliance is a must.  Whitespace principles are very similar in that they can ensure your learners can access visual information in an efficient way.

Reference – Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education ISBN:0-­‐13-­‐219158-­‐X

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