White Space

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Synonyms: blank space, wide margins
See also: word count
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White space refers to print fanzine layout and how much white space is left between words, between lines and in the margins.

The amount of white space (or lack of it) in print zines was one thing that determined the relative value of a fanzine (price vs amount of white space) and its reading accessibility. This was solely due to the fact that the cost of a print zine was dependent on how many physical pages it was, both due to the materials used to created it, and the cost of sending it through the mail.


Zine editors tried to avoid white space, which led some of them to create deliberate fillers.

In 1982, a fan commented on Star Wings #1:

The bottom third of the page is taken up with a cute though misplaced cartoon, that distracts from Brin's piece. A more elegant solution might have been to have the title and author credit fill up the remaining third of a page, rather than cramming in a discordant cartoon as 'filler'. [1]

Poems as Fillers

While some fans enjoyed fanpoetry, many others did not, especially when they felt it was used as filler.

In 1982, a fan in wrote

I object to poetry in zines primarily because it is used as filler and therefore editors don't seem to feel they need to work on it much. [2]

A fan in 1991 wrote:

And what kind of presentation can a poet hope for when poetry is printed in tiny, illegible fonts for 'artistic' purposes, used to fill white space at the end of a page, rarely accompanied by artwork, or rewritten by the editor because 'it's too long to fit the page'? So, why should a fan even read poetry in a fanzine?" [3]

White Space as a Artsy or Readability Design Choice

White Space and Awards

White space choices were an element in the early online Star Trek ASC Awards which used a feedback-based system of voting, line-counting feedback given on stories during the award voting. Line counting was used for the first few years, but by 2000, this had been replaced by character count of non-white-space characters.

Fan Comments

illo by Cathye Faraci from Kessel Run #2

Unknown Date

INDIGO PANTHER is 153 page zine in non-digest format with clear COMB binding, but the page count is very misleading. There is a lot of "white space/blank space" in this zine. One of the stories particularly contributed to this (The Derelict Ship). There is anywhere from 3/4 to 1 1/4" spaces between paragraphs, and many, many paragraphs are lines of conversation (one line of conversation). I suspect the real page count of the zine should have been about 75 pages if formatted like most zines. [4]

Our zines don't contain artwork, poetry, big white spaces or death stories. [5]


This zine is well laid out and lovingly edited, but the unreduced print and constant double-spacing give the buyer far too much blank white space. With some reduction it might have been at least a third smaller, and correspondingly less expensive. [6]


One long story, with huge margins and lots of white spaces, that came out to only 76 pages, is a mite skimpy for $3.25.[7]


Hey, White Spacer's - ever thought ofleavingoutthegapsbetweenthewords? [8]

I could scream about the unnecessary white space, but the reasonable price of the zine takes all the wind out of the that sail. [9]


On the purely nit-picky note, the last page and the back cover of The Holmesian Federation #7 are blank. I get bothered by this sort of thing, because, to me, it looks unprofessional—white space attracts attention, in this case, away from the stories and artwork. On an unconscious level, it says the editors didn't have the imagination to put something, anything there, even if it was just a bit of filler artwork. Even a simple border around the back cover would have been better than nothing. Otherwise, THF#7 is an attractive, well-edited zine (I only found about three typos), and in these times a real bargain for four bucks.[10]


This 226-page zine is put together with a curious mixture of flair and conservatism. The title pages for each story are nicely decorated. The titles for each of the poems aren't bolded are even done in enlarged type. The nonreduced typeface is clean, but the pages themselves seem rather plain, with a lot of white around the margins. [11]


My pet peeves are wide margins and "artistic" layout, especially with inadequate equipment. Save a tree! ... If there's anything I hate, it's ordering a zine through the mail and getting one back with tons of "aesthetic" white space. I want lots of black ink for my money, right out to the edges of the paper. [12]

... note that you are not charged for the dread white space (said white space is against my religion--most folks know wasted space is a pet peeve of mine and that I never shut up about it, especially zines with double spaces between paragraphs, unreduced text, margins of more than one inch and....) --it is something unavoidable, but necessary because I can cut costs that way. Note that I am charging the same price for this issue as for the first one, even though this one is 8 pages longer! [13]


I don't see that the value I get for my buck is from word count, or how much white space there isn't, text size, etc. I'm paying for a story (stories). I can feel disappointed in nicely formated 'zine with a good word count (Crossroads, for example) whereas I'm thrilled to death to pay for something poorly formated such as the AMC press' "Best of the Net" 'zines. In fact, I've bought *duplicate* copies of some of those! (I mean "poorly formatted" in that they have large margins *+* a decorative border.) [14]


Another sort of Press-type we used were sheets of graphics, symbols and dingbats that were used to decorate pages or as a divider between scenes of stories and endings of stories. Anything to avoid the appearance of that Dread White Space! [15]

Prevalent in "The Sentinel"

The Sentinel is an example of how early desktop publishing made white space more common.

Other Fandom Examples


  1. ^ from Jundland Wastes #10
  2. ^ a comment on Docking Bay #3, from Jundland Wastes #13
  3. ^ from a review of Panning for Pyrites by Susan M. Garrett in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #1
  4. ^ Destinies Entwined, fanzine review.
  5. ^ from the fanzine flyer for Dog House Press
  6. ^ from a review of Pastak by Dixie G. Owen in The Clipper Trade Ship #25
  7. ^ from S and H #1, reviewing Promises to Keep (Starsky and Hutch zine)
  8. ^ from From S and H #32
  9. ^ from S and H #37
  10. ^ Treklink #10
  11. ^ from a review of California K/S in On the Double #7/8
  12. ^ quoted anonymously from Virgule-L (Oct 24, 1992)
  13. ^ from the editorial of Lovers #2
  14. ^ from a fan on Zinelist quoted anonymously (January 30, 2002)
  15. ^ Reminisce With Me/Producing a Fanzine in the Before-Time