Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?

Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?

  • Post category:GRAPHIC DESIGN
  • Post published:July 11, 2023
  • Reading time:13 mins read

The Rule of Thirds or the Golden Ratio is a popular composition tool that photographers and artists use to create beautiful images. It is a simple way to help you compose any photo. These rules are also helpful for video editors and graphic designers. 

There are many apps like Snapseed that can help with photo composition, but I always recommend taking a picture on your phone first before you start cropping or editing! In this article, we discussed using the rule of thirds or the golden ratio to improve your photos.

Want to know how to use the Rule of Thirds vs golden ration? Let’s Start at the Very Beginning.

The Rule of Thirds: What is it, and Why is it Important?

Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?
rule of thirds in design

The Rule of Thirds is the simplest of all compositional techniques. It’s a method for dividing an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, then placing the main focal point in one of the resulting spaces. 

The Rule of Thirds is usually interpreted as a guide to achieving balance within a composition, either through spatial balance or by placement of objects within an image. 

The idea is to divide the composition into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, both intersecting at their center point. 

The compositional technique is most often applied in the visual arts, most notably painting and photography.

The Rule of Thirds is one way to create balance in your images. The other popular technique is called the “Golden Ratio.”

The Golden Ratio, also known as the Golden Section, is a number that is constant and never changes. 

The Golden Ratio has many properties, and it has been studied by many people for centuries. 

Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and architects like Le Corbusier used the Golden Ratio to create some of their most famous picturesque paintings, sculptures and buildings, respectively. 

Artists often try to follow this “ideal proportion” in their work, starting with something called the Fibonacci sequence. 

The sequence starts with 0 and 1, which sum up to be 1. Then the subsequent numbers in the sequence are close to or equal to “1.618” and that’s a number called “Golden Ratio”

The Fibonacci sequence has been found in many places in nature, from the spirals of a nautilus shell to the growth patterns of a sunflower. 

It has been used by artists and architects for centuries. It is not just because it looks aesthetically pleasing, but because it is an attractive proportion that has a natural sense of balance.

What is the Golden Ratio and What's so Special about It?

The Rules of Proportion and Their Importance to Designers

When the designer is creating the design, they need to know about the rule of thirds in order to get an effective design. 

This is also what makes the design appealing and beautiful.

The rule of thirds is a technique for composing images, video frames, or any sort of graphic design wherein it divides the area into thirds horizontally and vertically and same as the Golden ration.

These proportional designs can help you with designing your website or blog post. 

For example, say you are designing a blog post that is 1000 words long. 

You can split up your blog post into 3 columns, with 333 words per column on average. This will make sure that your article looks proportional on all devices and screens, no matter what size they are in.

How Does the Golden Ratio Compare to the Rule of Thirds?

The Golden Ratio is a natural mathematical ratio found in many aspects of the human body. It is an irrational number, which means it can’t be expressed as a fraction. The Golden Ratio is 1.618, which you can find by dividing one by the square root of 5.

The Golden Ratio has been used for centuries to create many beautiful pieces of art and architecture. It’s also closely related to the Fibonacci sequence in mathematics,

  • One reason for using the Golden Ratio rather than the Rule of Thirds is that it results in better symmetry,
  • Another reason for using the golden ratio is that it produces more pleasing proportions,
  • Lastly, because it’s related to mathematics, there’s less need to try and figure out where lines should go.

When Do You Use Golden Ratio, and When Do You Use The Rule Of Thirds?

Both have their own use cases when it comes to creating photos or images for your design. Basically, the rule of thirds simplifies the Golden Rule. 

Although the ratio does not correspond to 1:1.618, the correct composition implementation gives you about the same intended effect but is relatively easier to imagine and execute compared to the Golden Ratio.

But if you are creating something for publishing online, then you should probably go with the rule of thirds. 

A lot of designers use this technique when publishing their text and pictures because it’s more popular and people like how it looks (which will make people want to share and engage more).

In general, to add interest in a minimum scene use the rule of third or to emphasize the movement, use the Golden Ratio.

6 tips to improve the Rule of Thirds or Golden Ratio to Improve Your Photo Compositing

Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?
Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?

The Rule of Thirds

  1. Frame your subject with a rectangle or square to make it look more organized and balanced.
  2. Avoid placing the horizon in the center of the photo, as it will make landscapes look flat and symmetrical.
  3. Fill your frame with interesting photographic elements by filling the foreground, middle ground, and background with details that create a sense of place or help tell a story.
  4. Consider using leading lines to draw your eye into the frame and create depth in your image, as well as provide visual interest as borders for your photos too.
  5. Foreground objects can be used for this purpose too, so don’t forget to take advantage of what’s already in front of you.
  6. Use a graduated filter to balance out exposure levels from top to bottom, so there are now under- or overexposed areas.

Golden Ratio

  1. Try to use a perfect negative space when you have no words in a design, leaving the piece to speak for itself.
  2. Make use of asymmetrical balance to convening a message of more importance on one side and the other more on the other.
  3. Always create a focal point to central your idea or element of your design that anchors everything else in the composition.
  4. Use color contrasts for emphasis of certain ideas or emotions, it can help to draw viewer’s attention to particular areas or objects when it is needed
  5. Vary textures and sizes in different ways to engage your audience, it can be highly effective when used correctly.
  6. Use this rule if you’re taking pictures with people, animals, or objects that may be difficult.


Here's a quick summary of Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio

Rule of Thirds:
  • The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically.
  • It uses 2 points of focus on either side of the frame, with one point in the middle, creating visual tension in your photos.
Golden Ratio:


  • The Golden Ratio is a geometric ratio that was derived from studying the proportions of various natural objects, such as plants, animals, seashells and spiral galaxies. 
  • It has been used in architecture and art since before recorded history to create aesthetically pleasing compositions or lead to harmony in design and art.
Rule of Thirds vs Golden Ratio : Which One Works Best?
Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash

The Bottom Line

Before clicking the picture, ask, What are you trying to convey? It is important to use the right angles for your images, so they look more appealing and less blurry, which can be accomplished through proper editing and composition. 

These rules can be applied to any type of photography, but it has been most widely discussed in relation to landscape and architectural photography. 

In the end, I can say, The two techniques are very similar and create similar effects on your images. 

They both help you balance out your composition and focus on certain areas such as where to place your subjects’ faces, focal point etc. But it’s totally up to the designer, how they want to you use these rules there are no boundaries. 

I hope I cleared out few questions like how to use the rule of thirds or golden ratio to improve your photo compositing or what are the difference between rule of thirds or golden ratio etc. 

If you have any questions related to this or if I missed something, do let me know in the comment area, I would love to answer.

Aanchal Shukla

I'm a Graphic designer with over 10 years of experience now turned full time Wordpress Developer , SEO Expert and Writer for I post simple FAQ guides and tutorials that cover Graphic, Animation, Filmmaking and Passive Income and Product Review in general.