space above and below

Elegant emphasis

If you hadn’t fig­ured it out yet, I’m a big fan of white space. On the out­side edge of the page (see page margins). Between cap­i­tal let­ters (see letterspacing). Within table cells (see tables). Between para­graphs (see space between paragraphs).

And now, above and below a heading, as a form of empha­sis. To show you what I mean, let me ask you some­thing. DO YOU FIND THIS TO BE AN INVIT­ING FORM OF EMPHA­SIS?

Or do you pre­fer this?

Well, there you have it.

Space above and below works on the page for the same rea­son a dra­matic pause works when you’re talk­ing. You draw a lis­tener’s atten­tion through con­trast. Loud­ness is an effec­tive form of con­trast. But so is silence.

Like­wise with the writ­ten word. For­mat­ting tools like point size, color, and bold or italic have a role to play. But care­less typog­ra­phers mate them indis­crim­i­nately, breed­ing noise. Space above and below gives you empha­sis with­out adding a sin­gle mark to the page.