The Rule of Thirds: Another String To Your Bow

The so-called ‘rule of thirds’ or ‘the golden grid rule’ was, in its original form, utilized by painters when constructing the layout of their pieces. There are conflicting accounts as to who introduced this concept to the world of art, but it is clear that it was heavily utilized as far back as the Renaissance period. Whilst it has evolved slightly, it has stood the test of time to be still popular today in the modern arts of photography and presentation design.

How To Use This Rule

The rule itself states that the composition of a photo or slide should consist of an invisible grid that is divided into nine equal parts by vertical and horizontal lines. These lines create four intersections, which, according to the rule of thirds, is where your main object or focal point should be placed. The resulting asymmetry is considered to be a much more exciting aesthetic when compared with compositions in which the main subject is in the center.

The centers of each of the four intersections are considered to be the power points of the composition. You should try to place your key elements along one or more of them. Some studies suggest that viewers find such photos and designs more appealing than those where the main subjects are centered.

The same idea can be used when you are combining visual images with text. Try to position them symmetrically around the power points. This will achieve good results as the viewers’ attention will be attracted towards the important elements.

Applying the rule of thirds to your designs can be done in various ways. One of them is to directly use photos or templates that follow it. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to crop and replace some of the key objects to achieve the desired result.

Of course, like any technique, you need to be careful not to overuse it so that its effectiveness is not diluted; it should simply form part of your arsenal with which to draw on when you are creating your next slide-deck.

There are some exceptions when the rule of thirds may not be the best choice. For example, when your primary object is strong enough to imbalance the composition. In such cases, you should put it in the center. As always, experiment, try various options and trust your instincts when applying the rule of thirds.