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What the Margins on Pages Teach Us about the Margins in Our Lives

The paper used for standard letter writing and school essays is 8.5 x 11 inches, or 93.5 square inches. Most teachers require one-inch margins for class papers. That's the standard we've become accustomed to seeing. But have you ever stopped to consider what percentage of the page that margin occupies? When I ask people, most answer anywhere from 15 to 25 percent.

But a one-inch margin on a standard sized paper is 37.4 percent of a page's area. More than one-third of the page is given to space. And that's just around the edges. When you double-space the lines of text, a majority of the paper is blank.

The empty border helps us focus on the printed text. It creates a comfortable feel for our eyes. Stylish magazines help readers focus on the text and images by using large amounts of margin on each page. Sometimes we use even more margin in catalogs and on blogs.

Sometimes people think that margin (sometimes called "white space") is wasteful and inefficient. They pack as much print as possible on the page. But have you ever seen a page packed with text from top to bottom and side to side? You'll get tired looking at it, even before you begin reading it.

Possible Preaching Angles: Prayer; Quiet Time; Sabbath; Spiritual disciplines—Margins and space in our lives, blank spaces on our calendars, Sabbath time, can give us room to deepen our relationship with God and others. Margin has substance, and it intersects with how we live (our heart), how we think (our mind), and how we act (our hands). We focus because there are margins.

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