Is lack of negative space crippling your layouts?

By Rob Cooper

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

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Here is a prime example of a border, which are the legs in this case, fighting with the lettering. Those white legs always bothered me, so I fixed it on the replacement sign eight years later! Painting them to match the background added valuable negative space around the message and eliminated the distracting left and right white borders.

About three years ago, I sent some photos to my good friend Lane Walker of Solo Signs in Reno, Nevada. I got a reply that said,  “Looks like you’re having some negative space issues on this one.” I was surprised, but when I looked at the photo he was exactly right. Then, as I looked back through all my photos, I realized that on most of them the lettering had been creeping closer and closer toward the edge of the sign!

From that day, I made a point of keeping lots of space around the lettering on my signs, and the difference is noticeable. 20% more space looks 100% better!

When the lettering is too close to the edge, the letter fights for attention and is distracted by the edge. It leads the eye off the sign. That’s the last place we want the reader’s eye to go.

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Rob Cooper’s shop is in Koh Tao, Thailand.

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