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  • Writer's pictureElena Drakulevska

Whitespace: How LESS brings MORE clarity and impact in your Power BI reports

Updated: May 31

Ever received feedback from a client that there's too much unused space in the report you created? And their suggestion: why not just add a couple of more KPIs to fill the page... This scenario is common for Power BI designers. Clients and non-designers often perceive blank space as wasted and serving no purpose, urging for more content to be crammed into the report. However, this approach can lead to cluttered reports that are challenging to navigate and understand.

the word 'whitespace' written in white letters on a black background

Does this sound familiar? In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of whitespace, its importance in report design, and how you can effectively leverage it to create impactful reports.



 

First, let's take a look at the Google homepage: as soon as you land on this page, your attention is immediately drawn to the search form—it's impossible to miss. But take note of all the space surrounding it. Is it wasted? Far from it. The whitespace serves to highlight the search bar, making it stand out prominently.


What is whitespace?

In design, whitespace is a term that refers to negative space. Unlike other visual design elements, whitespace is invisible. But, it's not just empty space—It's the breathing room that allows elements to stand out and communicate their message effectively.


There are two main types of whitespace: macro whitespace, which refers to the space between major design elements such as report sections, visuals, or text boxes. And, micro whitespace, which refers to the smaller gaps within a visual, such as title/subtitle, data points, or axes.


The Power of Less

By incorporating whitespace into your Power BI reports, you can enhance readability and comprehension. Whitespace provides a visual break, making it easier for users to absorb information, analyze data, and draw insights.


Whitespace also adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to your Power BI reports. By allowing elements such as charts, tables, and visuals to breathe, whitespace increases the overall visual appeal of your reports.


And last but not least, one of the most powerful aspects of whitespace is its ability to direct the user's attention. By strategically placing whitespace around key elements, designers can guide the user's eye and emphasize important information.


LESS IS MORE. Remember to communicate the importance of whitespace in enhancing the clarity and impact of the report.


Impact on neuro-diversity and accessibility

Neuro-diverse individuals, including those with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other cognitive differences, often face challenges when navigating dense or cluttered information.


Whitespace reduces cognitive load by providing visual breaks and organizing information in a more digestible manner. It creates a sense of order and clarity, particularly helpful for neuro-diverse individuals processing large amounts of information. By incorporating whitespace effectively in design, you can create more inclusive and accessible user experiences for neuro-diverse individuals and users with disabilities. Prioritizing clarity, simplicity, and organization not only benefits these users but enhances usability for all.


Utilizing whitespace in your Power BI reports

  • Begin enhancing your report by decluttering: consider which elements could be eliminated from your report, while still effectively conveying the intended message; which can be moved to a new page, and which can be hidden in a drill-through. This may involve visuals, KPIs, area charts, tables, colours, and more.


Screenshot of a cluttered report
Cluttered report
  • Consider increasing macro space: Focus on enhancing margins, space between the visuals, navigation elements, and other components of the page.


  • Consider increasing micro space to improve readability: Think of padding, and the space between titles, subtitles, and content. You can adjust padding and spacing in the following ways:

    • Padding: Increase the space around visuals by adjusting padding settings. Navigate to Format Pane > Size and style > Padding.

    • Title Spacing: Increase the space below titles and subtitles to enhance visual clarity. Navigate to Format Pane > Title > Spacing.

A screenshot from the Format pane in Microsoft Power BI showing how you can adjust the padding of the visuals and the space below the title & subtitle
Increasing padding and space below the title in Microsoft Power BI
 

Conclusion or TLDR

Whitespace is more than just empty space—it's a vital design element that enhances clarity and impact in your Power BI reports. By strategically incorporating whitespace, you can improve readability, guide attention, and create visually appealing reports. And, no, you don't need to fill every pixel of the report with a visual. This is particularly important for neuro-diverse individuals, who may face challenges when navigating dense or cluttered information.


Key takeaways:

  • Declutter your reports: Remove unnecessary elements and focus on simplicity to enhance clarity and comprehension.

  • Increase macro and micro space: Focus on both macro (margins & space between elements) and micro space (within visuals) to improve readability and visual appeal.

  • Communicate the importance: Educate stakeholders, including clients and team members, about the significance of whitespace in effective report design, especially for neuro-diverse individuals.


Remember, whitespace is not wasted space—it's a powerful tool that can elevate the usability and accessibility of your reports for all users.


As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry famously said, "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."


Happy designing! :)


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