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Effective placement and spacing


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.)


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 the 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 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 the White Space Planner. 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