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Lesson: 2001: A Journalist’s Space Odyssey


2001: A Journalist’s Space Odyssey


A lesson to guide students through the types of space for effective use in design


The purpose of this lesson is to connect the use of white space with relevance and importance of elements on a composition. Space is used to define elements based on how they are placed; by placement, the designer can lead a reader’s eye.


  • Students will use effective space to demonstrate the mastery of design in a spread.
  • Students will use different types of space to signify importance and meaning of information and elements in a spread.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)

Partnership for 21st Century Skills — Student Outcomes

Learning and Innovation Skills Creativity and Innovation
Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
LIfe and Career Skills Initiative and Self-Direction
Monitor, define, prioritize and complete tasks without direct oversight
Productivity and Accountability
Prioritize, plan and manage work to achieve the intended result
Set and meet goals, even in the face of obstacles and competing pressures
Information, Media and Technology Skills ICT Literacy
Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information


120 minutes


Handout: Labeled Spread Sample

Handout: White Space Planner

Handout: Product Evaluation

Computers with desktop publishing software (or graphing design paper)

Lesson step-by-step

1. Build vocabulary — 10 minutes
Distribute the Labeled Spread Sample handout to introduce definitions and examples of key terms.

2. Application — 30 minutes
Using Handout 5.1b: White Space Planner, have students look at the current publication to list ways the staff has used the types of space, and ways they could incorporate elements of space. After they have written down ideas, ask students to share their ideas with the class. In group discussion as a class, select three new ways of incorporating space into the publication.

3. Guided practice — 60 minutes
Students will use Handout 5.1b: White Space Planner, to plan space on a spread of their own creation. Use computers with desktop publishing software or design on paper with graphing layout sheets. Students’ layouts will include the elements from Handout 5.1b. Students will need to demonstrate that the most important elements are set apart with expanded space, unified elements are grouped together with tight space, and other basic secondary elements are separated with standard, consistent space. No trapped space should appear on the layout.


Product Evaluation