Give your Reader a Break

Once, I attended a meeting where Robert Bernstein, then president and C.E.O. of Random House, was handed a lawyer’s memo that was so dense, he refused to read it. “Where’s the white space?” he asked, not unkindly, and slid it back across the conference table. “Give your reader a break.”

I felt bad for the young attorney involved, who no doubt had produced competent work, but who arranged his page in such a way so as to have wearied the recipient before he even began.

White space is essential on the page. Break it up. Make it easy on the eyes. Give the reader’s mind a chance to catch up to his eyes. Lay it out, in word and in logic, in the cleanest possible way.

This is the difference between something read or ignored, and what a simple fix.