One change you can make to improve your email marketing…

MNB ( delivers extraordinary email marketing services for companies and individuals looking for more: more tools, more media, more templates, more accessible design capabilities, more professional account options, more management options, and more customer support.

Add more empty space

I deal with thousands of customers, and I’ve heard and seen limitations and branding guidelines that would make your eyes drop into your stomach because the view of digesting food would be more appealing.

I have seen newsletters with content that is ridiculously long, terribly written, grammatically poor, overly dull, with alternating line-colors, word-colors, and yes, even alternating letter colors. In short: in terms of email newsletters, I think I’ve seen it all. I receive (and view) about 150 newsletters a day and help thousands of clients with their newsletters.

For all the good, the bad, and the ugly, there is one thing they all can do to be better – they all need more empty space. The human brain likes to absorb a certain amount of content within a certain amount of space. The uptake by the human brain on content with ample empty-space increases by 20% (there are numerous brilliant articles on this at Human Factors International’s website

Empty Space Around Text

There are contextual elements that we, as composers, can manipulate on every piece of text to make it more digestible by our readers.

Below is a paragraph of text. It may look familiar to you.


I see this quite often in newsletters. I wish most people would only use a few sentences, but this goes on-and-on-and-on. Take this example, apply some empty-space theory to it, and you get the next image.


I made two simple changes to enhance the consume-ability of this content :

  • Added line break between title and body
  • Changed the line-height property on the body text to 1.35em – this is my favorite setting in all of typesetting

There are additional considerations to take into account and two types of spacing – active and passive**. You can actively space out the lines and text or passively create space by adjusting font saves and word spacing. It gets quite technical but I find the simplest solution (the two changes I made) gives you the biggest bang and the other gains are fairly nominal at that point.

Empty Space In Layout

Now that you have figured out a nice way to layout your text, the next step is ironing out an overall layout with ample enough empty space. For this, I am going to use some examples from the newsletters I receive.

Below is Fandango’s newsletter; I get it weekly. I love movies and it (the newsletter) does a good job of keeping me up to date with, well, movies. Sadly, they don’t really understand the concept of empty space. This newsletter looks complicated and busy. They do a decent job of passive space in their text but not such a great job on layout. My eyeballs bounce around like a pinball in their newsletter.



In contrast, the next newsletter is from zulily – they do a darn good job, but could still improve in some layout. The only issue I have with zulily is with a little inconsistency in the description text they have under each image (see below) – if the “Rest Assured” was aligned vertically with “Mind games,” then balance and harmony would be achieved.


TravelZoo nails it! Although, I would likely recommend cutting the images by 50% and aligning their bullets to the side of each image but the empty space is perfect.


Lastly, Toys R Us produces one of my favorite newsletters, not because I have kids or am a kid at heart, but because they do a fantastic job all around with layout, empty space, enough information, solid call-to-action, and personalization. The one thing I would change is the size of the banner ad near the top though – it is a bit massive, and would likely achieve the same click-through if it were half the size.


From the first image to this last one, the empty space has increased in quantity. The eye just has a much easier time reading and the brain translating. I am infatuated with empty space – it makes digesting newsletters so much more comfortable.

Have at it folks; if you have questions about your use and newsletter, please don’t hesitate to ask me to review it.

I am fortunate to have lots of this theory ingrained in my cranium, but to get it just right (yourself), read and digest:

** Mark Boulton’s “Whitespace” article (

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