Understanding the rule of three in design

Stop. Look. Listen. Three is the magic number used across a variety of mediums for instant effect and winning charm.

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Three words in a row can drive home a point. The rule also has visual applications when used for emphasis and aesthetic effect.

Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate the rule of three into your life.

Images and video

Based on the rule of three, nine equal parts are created when an imaginary grid is imposed on an image. Photo tools often include a grid for camera screens – the iPhone has one, for example – helping users to capture an image.

You often find that Car Leasing Gloucestershire companies such as mphvehiclesolutions.co.uk, and product companies will include three images of their items when posting them on their websites. There is also a move towards people posting on social media using a carousel of images on their posts and more often than not this will include three images.


Lists are an excellent way to create impactful content, and three points can be perfect. Three components add weight but do not overwhelm the audience. These can be displayed in bullet point format to keep the text looking clear.

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Many charismatic speakers have used the rule of three in their addresses for emphasis. In writing, this is known as a tricolon.

Popular culture

Note the domination of trilogies in books and movies, such as Star Wars, The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings.

Make your project or story effective

Just as there are three acts in a play, divide your content into three parts. The project will be easier to understand and navigate. As with a drama, tell the user a story that flows and opens up using an architecture based on three.

Marketing materials

Do you remember the saying ‘thinner, lighter and faster’ on the release of the Apple iPad 2? This made a catchy and memorable phrase.

You can do this in your work. Describe your project in three words and use them whenever talking about your attributes. It can be fun to play with words to reach the most effective combination.


Look around – you might be surprised at how many examples based on three are out there. We never normally notice these incidences because of the innate harmony of the examples, with the rule of three embracing us all with a mystic bond.


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