Sometimes the best writing strategy is not extra words but extra space.
A business document crowded with dense paragraphs makes for difficult reading. Instead, add white space to offer readers relief and draw attention to key ideas.
How can I use space effectively?
You can create appealing white space through short paragraphs, lists, headings, and graphics.
Every paragraph break creates natural white space. Breaking up dense passages into short paragraphs will make your ideas more accessible to readers. We recommend limiting your paragraphs to 100 words or fewer, though this number is flexible.
If you’re not sure where to break up a dense paragraph, search for places where the writing shifts focus, whether to a new topic or supporting point.
Another way to offer visual relief is to create a list. Lists organize related details so that readers can work with them and check them off as they go.
- Use a numbered or lettered list if the details have a natural order or ranking. Organize them chronologically or by order of importance.
- Use a bulleted list if the details are equal in importance.
Headings establish clear-cut transitions, signaling new ideas and guiding readers through different sections in the writing. Each new heading creates natural white space, isolating key words from the main text.
Tables, charts, and other graphics help readers understand complex data. The white space surrounding them supports reader-friendly design.
What does accessible writing look like?
Compare these two versions of the same message. Which version looks more inviting to read?
Thank you for the opportunity to bid on Millwood’s waste removal and recycling needs. Based on the bid requirements, we are submitting the following proposal for services. Twice a week, we will service one eight-cubic-yard container for regular refuse. Once a week, we’ll service one eight-cubic-yard container for cardboard. Your total cost per month will be $240, plus you’ll be charged $55 per trip for any extra pickups. As Tallahassee's leading waste collector, Boniface serves more than 300 organizations. References and brochures are enclosed for your review. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Thank you for the opportunity to bid on Millwood’s waste removal and recycling needs. Based on the bid requirements, we are submitting the following proposal:
- One eight-cubic-yard container for regular refuse, serviced twice a week
- One eight-cubic-yard container for cardboard, serviced once per week
- Total cost per month: $240.00
- Extra pick-ups: $55.00 per trip
As Tallahassee's leading waste collector, Boniface serves more than 300 organizations. References and brochures are enclosed for your review.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
Note: The revised version offers natural white space by presenting different ideas in separate paragraphs and by creating a list. Notice how the white space surrounding the list draws attention to the individual details of the proposal.