Rule of Thirds Template for Slide Layout

Rule of Thirds Template for Slide Layout

While it’s best to sketch a few ideas before you even hit the power button on your computer, once you do open your slideshow software, head first to the slide master and rearrange the default slide layouts into something more attention-grabbing.
Try using the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is a layout idea that comes from the field of photography. It essentially divides the slide into three horizontal rows and three horizontal columns.


There are a couple of different ways to use the Rule of Thirds. Some people will let it guide where to put images, such that the images consume one, two, or all three of the thirds, either horizontally or vertically. Other people will work to put key elements at those star points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.

The idea is that placement along a third makes everything off-center, which creates visual interest. Centered content (text or images) tends to feel really balanced and formal (by that I mean really boring).

The easiest way to work with the Rule of Thirds is to draw in the lines in your slide master on master slide 1. Then rearrange the default text boxes in the rest of the master slides so they align to the Rule of Thirds. Close the master view and develop your slides. When you are done, you’ll just go back into the slide master and delete the lines from master slide 1. RuleofThirdsSlideMaster IN FACT, look out – here’s Rule of Thirds Template for PowerPoint 2010 you can download where I have already drawn the lines in the slide master and rearrange the default boxes. You could, in theory, just close the master view and get to work on your slide creation. In practice, you might want to change fonts and such first.

Here are a few slides I developed with the Rule of Thirds, using the fill-a-third approach:

Text in 1 vertical third, image in 2


Image in 1 vertical third, text in 2


Image in all 3 vertical thirds, text in 1


Text in 1 horizontal third, image in 2


Got the idea? Awesome, download the Rule of Thirds Template and get going!

7 thoughts on “Rule of Thirds Template for Slide Layout
  1. Ann K. Emery says:

    This is great, Stephanie! Do you happen to have a “before” version of a centered, formal slide? All your examples look so good it’s hard to imagine this slide looking any other way.

  2. Susan Eliot says:

    This is something I would put in that category of “one little thing that can make a huge difference.” It also helps explain why some things just don’t look right at times but you can’t figure out why. Thanks so much, Stephanie. This is an easy one to tuck away for future reference.

  3. Jane Davidson says:

    Stephanie, how kind of you to post this to arrive in the small hours the day I am getting up early to make last-minute tweaks to my slides before presenting at AES! I won’t ever be able to look at my slides the same way again but do I have time to make them that good?

    Great stuff; so simple, so effective. Just what we’ve come to be expect from you! :)

    Jane (in Brisbane, off to see Jennifer Greene keynote in a couple of hrs – follow live tweets @ejanedavidson)

  4. Amy D'Andrade says:

    Thank you Stephanie for the awesome resource (the PPT template) and the excellent advice. Clear and helpful.

  5. Karen Anderson says:

    I love it Stephanie! I incorporate the rule of thirds in my photography, but never thought about using it for ppt slides. Just when I think there’s no other way to pep up those slides…thanks for all the USEFUL tips!

  6. Sheila B. Robinson says:

    I love that you show so many different ways this rule can be applied and how the same slide can be visually appealing in its different variations. I’m with Jane…every time I have to present, I feel as if my slides must pass the “Stephanie Test” or perhaps they must be “Evergreen Compliant”! :-)

  7. Ricardo Wilson-Grau says:

    Stephanie, what a wonderful challenge! Thank you.

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