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Sunday, October 29, 2023

How whitespace affects reading

cj Sez: Since Halloween is only a couple of days away, here’s your next book to read:

  Perfect for the upcoming holiday: HALLOWEEN PIECES . . . An anthology of 18 pieces of work by 17 authors

A short paranormal story I’m kind of proud of, “Once in a Blue Moon,” is included in this fourth installment of the Mobile Writers Guild anthology PIECES series. Paperback and ebook available. Kindle is $1.99.



  Searching my archives for blog ideas, I came across this 2020 post by Ellen Buikema on the Writers in the Storm blog. I am a big fan/follower of the concept for all of my writing and believe it’s worthy of sharing. Granted my excerpt from her post is directed more to formatters and self-publishers, but the entire post speaks to presentations, too, whether as an author at a conference or in the business world conference rooms.

  Since creating presentations for senior management was part of my career in the automotive industry, I would add that for visual presentations don’t use small, thin, script fonts (need 20 point or greater) and don’t use pastel colors for text or graphs. They’re almost invisible to anyone beyond the first row of your audience. 

  Read the full post by clicking on the link for Ellen’s post below.

Ellen Buikema wrote:

Like a pause in a song, white space can help create drama, emotion, a bit of quiet before a storm of words.

White space is the canvas where we paint our words.

Writers can affect readers with the use of white space in several ways.

1. White space draws the reader’s attention to the words on the page, makes the print easier to read, and improves comprehension.

2. Space on the page makes finding where the reader left off reading quick and easy.

3. Kerning, the space between letters, can change the look of the print and add meaning. Just as using all capitals can be interpreted as yelling, extra space between letters may emphasize speaking words slowly. “You need to s  l  o  w  down.”  (cj Sez…Personally, I’d use this only in advertising and poetry.)

4. The use of white space at the beginning and ending of chapters gives the reader a visual break. Some writers and formatters choose to begin a new chapter halfway down the page. Others like to start all chapters on the right-hand side of the book for physical copies. A new chapter beginning on the same page as the previous chapter looks like a formatting error.

5. Line spacing may be adjusted to fit next to or around a photo or illustration, or from left to right margin across the page. Avoiding a line with the final word of a sentence dangling all by its lonesome self on the following page is a good thing and can be done using line spacing as well as kerning.

6. Blank pages are helpful in the case of an anthology of short stories, particularly if the spacing and word count send the ending of one story onto the right-hand page. A blank side gives the reader emotional space to regroup for the next tale.

Ways to create white space:
1. The use of images surrounded by a margin of space: illustrations, icons, graphs, photos, all give the reader a brief rest and let the mind focus on something different.

2. Bullet points and numbered lists make reading quicker, scan-able.

3. Variable sentence lengths make for more pleasurable reading. Too many long sentences in a row create blocky text. If you pause and go back to a big block of text. it is really difficult to find one’s place.

4. Use shorter paragraphs. 


  Okay, that’s it for today. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for a happy and safe you.


Now a note from my sponsors:

  My novels THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA are fast-paced, thriller/suspense stories with sassy banter and a smidgen of romance. (Perfect diversions for a quick weekend getaway.)

  The books are available on Amazon or through your favorite eTailer and bookstore. Got a library card? You can read the ebooks free from Hoopla.

  Little note: When you shop The Haunted Book Shop, I can drop in and sign copies of my books for you. TO ORDER, contact:  Angela Trigg, the awesome owner and a RITA Award-winning author in her own right (writing as Angela Quarles) will be happy to ship you any book(s) by any author of your choice.

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