Silence: White Space for Writers

There’s a constant struggle between designers and clients over white space. Designers want more of it because it makes things look clean and elegant. Clients want less of it because they feel it is wasted real estate that could be chock full of on-brand imagery.

But the same struggle exists between writers and clients, too. But a writer’s white space is silence.

It applies across all media—radio, print, web—but it usually rears its head worst with television or other video formats. Some clients want wall-to-wall voiceover, not wasting a single second on silence. But sometimes, 26 seconds of silence with 4 seconds of thoughtful, profound words can be surprisingly memorable.

Think of the difference between a Nike commercial and a :30 infomercial. Supply the needed information and then let them digest.

There’s no sure fire formula for just how many words to put in or to leave out. The key is to let words and graphics work together to convey a message. They have to pull equal weight. That doesn’t mean 50% pictures 50% words. But both art and copy have to do their part—no more and no less—to tell the story.

So don’t feel like every inch of print space needs to be full. Consolidate your message on web pages. Give radio listeners a chance to actually listen rather than forcing them to zone you out.

Choose and use your words wisely. Less is usually more

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