Following on from my recent post on hierarchy I wanted to write something on the rule of thirds. Dating back to the 18th century it has been a guide if you will, to provide harmonious balance and composition within design. It has been used by architects, painters or designers.
The rule is pretty simple, it states that by dividing the page into 3 equal length columns and 3 equal length rows and using these sections within design and composition, you can achieve harmonious and balanced composition.
Where the dividing lines cross over, it provides natural focus points for the composition. The idea is that dividing content within these lines or using these focal points to place your most important elements, you can create a good sense of hierarchy with a maximum interest and ability to communicate.
Rather than talking too much about it, I thought it would be best to point you to some good examples others have done using this idea.
I have seen the rule of thirds most used in photography. www.alibony.com has a good article on using it to obtain more effective picture cropping. The trick here is to align key elements along the intersecting lines to create more impact and tension within the composition. There are some good examples here. The site shows the difference it can make with some before and after examples.
Aisle one use the rule of thirds in a poster design creating this beautifully balanced composition by dividing the page into the 3 sections vertically. This is a good example how it can be used to balance composition typographically. The page looks evenly weighted and just pleasing to the eye.
Vitaly Friedman shows a good example of how this can be used in web design. He points out that the example below contains lots of information and despite using multiple powerful colours, still looks clean. The composition fits in beautifully with the rule of thirds as his images below point out below.
Finally ZenElements.com uses the rule of thirds to organise information on a business card. They provide an excellent read on the choices behind the layout.
So that ladies and gentlemen is the rule of thirds. Its always a tough choice defining a grid for a layout which is why its so useful to know some of the theory behind some peoples choices. I suppose the point is to be aware and keep thinking about your layouts and composition. Make considered choices and think about why you are making them.
Thanks for reading!