The Rule of Thirds and your Slides

by Oliver Adria on 05/04/2010

(updated)
From Golden Mean to Rule of Thirds

The Golden Mean (also called  the Golden ratio, the Golden section, divine proportion) is basically the ratio of 1 to about 1.618, but it’s more than just a number. It’s quite astounding where you will find this: In nature, in art, in music. Even in your own body you will find many things that have the Golden Mean applied. E.g. the lower half of your body beginning from your belly button is 1.618 as long as the upper half (for more body examples, go here). You can even find fascinating stuff in mathematics relating to the Golden Mean. Did you know that 1 divided by 1.618 is… 0.618?? Even Da Vinci was a big fan of the Golden mean and used it countlessly in his art.

So, this Golden Mean we find everywhere – for some reason – humans are drawn to this. When we see it, it gives a sense of structure to the human mind; it gives harmony and dynamicism at the same time. And since the Renaissance architects and artists have been drawn to this. Today we still use it and we see it used in photography a lot.

So how do we as presenters make use of this? In order to simplify the usage, we will use something that is quite close to the Golden Mean, we will use the Rule of Thirds (see images for explanation).

Golden Mean applied

Golden Mean explained: Here we use the Golden Mean vertically and horizontally once.

Golden Mean applied

Golden Mean applied: If we use it twice horizontally and vertically, you can see that the image is now split into 9 boxes.

The Rule of Thirds applied

The Rule of Thirds applied: To simplify it, we make thirds out of this. To use the Rule of Thirds often, you can set the rulers in PowerPoint to divide your slides as in this image.

Using the Rule of Thirds in your slides

Using the Rule of Thirds is a powerful thing. You should use it to structure your slides. Place your objects and your elements in accordance with the grids (see some examples at the end of this post).

You should also make use of it to place objects. The four intersections of the dividers are called hotspots or power points (:-) ), and you should consider putting the main object of the slides there; putting it in the middle of the slide might make the image a bit boring. By using the Rule of Thirds as a guideline you can make the images more harmonious and dynamic.

Some examples of using the Rule of Thirds

Here are some Rule of Thirds examples I’ve used in my slides in order to make the slides more structured and dynamic (and less boring). This is also useful in photography or when you want to use full-slide images and photos. You can consider cropping the image according to the Rule of Thirds.

rule_of_thirds_zen_stones rule_of_thirds_woman_gun

rule_of_thirds_think_about_it_while rule_of_thirds_one_story

For more on using the Rule of Thirds:

For more on the fascinating Golden Mean

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