Have you ever opened an e-learning course and immediately felt overwhelmed? When there’s too much information on each slide, the learner ends up spending more time trying to figure out where to look or what to click than actually learning.

As e-learning designers, we want to minimize the chances our learners will feel lost or confused so they can focus on the content. One way to do this is by using white space effectively—allowing learners to easily scan and find what they need.

Wondering what we mean by “white space”? Don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explain what white space is and how to use it to improve your e-learning designs.

What Is White Space?

White space, also known as negative space, is the empty unmarked space between textboxes, objects, characters, and shapes in design. But it doesn’t have to be white. It can be any color, pattern, or even a background image. Basically, white space is any space without any text or objects.

When you use white space effectively, you’ll improve your slide layouts. They’ll be more legible and scannable, making for a better learning experience. Sound good? Great! Keep reading to find out how it’s done.

Follow the Rule of 50/50

As a general rule, 50% of your slide layout should consist of white space. A generous amount of white space helps avoid visual clutter and gives your course content breathing room. Take a look at the examples below:

Less White Space

More White Space

Slide with too much text Slide with less text

 

See what a difference extra white space makes? Next time you’re designing a course, split text-heavy slides up into multiple slides with extra white space. Your learners will thank you!

Add Extra Space around Text

When you leave extra space between each character and line of text in a paragraph, it makes it easier for the learner to read it. Adjusting the kerning (the amount of space between each character) and the leading (the amount of space between each line of text) can make a dramatic difference in how easy it is to read your content.

Take a look at this side-by-side comparison:

Less White Space

More White Space

Text with less space between characters and lines Text with more space between characters and lines

 

Which one do you find easier to read? My money’s on the one with more white space!

Use Space to Create Logical Groupings

According to the Law of Proximity, when we see objects near one another we view them as a unit. You can help learners make sense of the information presented to them by putting less space between related objects and more space between unrelated objects.

Let’s look at an example.

Equal Space Between All Objects

Space Used to Create Groupings

Slide with equal space between objects Slide where space is used to create groupings

 

While neither of these designs looks bad, the example on the right makes it more obvious that there are 6 groups of objects. 

The Bottom Line

White space is a design element you can use to improve the learning experience and visual design of your projects. These tips will help you declutter your courses and add breathing room to your slides.

Want to learn about other ways to improve the visual design of your e-learning courses? Here are some articles to read:

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