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The White Space: Use It to Increase Reader Retention

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

Both sides (of the scroll) were covered with funeral songs, words of sorrow, and pronouncements of doom. (Ezekiel 2:10, NLT)

A Word For Writers

The White Space: a #devotional for #writers based on Ezekiel 2:10 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #DigitalWriting

The Bible’s early manuscripts lacked white space. They were written in continuous script. 

Continuous script, typical in ancient Hebrew and common ancient Greek, lacked punctuation marks and spaces between words. It’s a writing style described in Ezekiel 2:10. Both sides of the scroll were jammed packed with words from God to Ezekiel to share with the people. 

Writers and readers during Bible times learned to read using continuous script. Plus, continuous writing saved space on costly rolls of papyrus and parchment. 

Modern readers find it hard to read continuous script. Check yourself with this version of John 3:16.


As more people became educated, script changed. Spaces between words and punctuation allowed more readers to clearly understand a text’s meaning.

The internet has changed script again. Readers skim online content rather than taking in every word. Writers leave visual signals for readers. White space increases readers’ retention.

That’s why digital writers purposefully use white space – plenty of short paragraphs, subheads, bullet points, and even phrases rather than sentences – so that readers can skim.

White space is not just blank space. It’s an important element of design  which modern readers have been trained to expect. White space allows readers to retain and understand content more fully.

A Wise Word

Use white space to increase online readers’ retention. 

A Word To Pray

Heavenly Father,

Language has evolved. But you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Help me to use a writing style that resonates with readers today and communicates clearly with them.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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