Anyone who’s a gardener or designer can tell you they know the benefits of using items in threes – whether it’s 3 plants together or 3 vases together. (This can apply to anything that is an odd number – e.g., 5, 7, 9, etc., except the number ‘1’. For example, here’s a good article about the 7 elements for creating a product review.)
The more “creative” types prefer to just let things flow. That’s OK. However, those with a specific focus (and not a lot of time) prefer to have a guideline they can follow – and that’s where this rule comes into play. In fact, it even allows the non-writer to become a writer (of sorts).
This rule of 3 also works amazingly well when it comes to writing – and formatting. Here are some of the most common ways in which use the rule of 3’s is applied to writing.
Limit your article, ebook, or whatever to 3 headings – or chapters – only. Choose the 3 major elements you absolutely want to cover and then add the applicable content under these 3 headings.
Under each heading, have only 3 subheadings. These would be the main areas of focus that fall under the heading.
Limit yourself to 3 bullet points, and use the “FAB” approach for these bullets points.
- Features. What is the feature you’re talking about?
- Advantages. What is the advantage to using this feature?
- Benefits. What are the overall benefits attained by using this feature?
A feature should fall in line with your subheading. For example, if I were writing an article about document formatting, one of my subheadings might regarding colors. My 3 bullets points would be something like those below.
- Colors Selections for Your Document
- Colors Adds Life to Just Plain Text
- Colors Tie Everything Together
There may be plenty of other things to talk about for this subheading, but these are the most common that I feel (as the writer and author) that the reader should know about.
I’ve seen people go wild with images. Not only is too much too much, but the wrong images can spoil the item as a whole. Make the commitment to use only 1 image per heading OR subheading. No more, no less. Then (and maybe more importantly) use the same type of image throughout. Sticking with our discussion about colors, refer to the details, below.
Poor Image Selections
Here are the 3 problems with this collection of images:
- The images are all different styles: one is obviously in a store, the next is a piece of clip art, and the third is a background-less photo. Separately, they’re fine. Together they look as if they were not well thought out.
- The message of using the color wheel is going to be a bit hard to identify – mainly because the first picture barely shows the colors, and the third picture is not in the shape of a wheel.
- The feeling of each does not promote one of cohesiveness and continuity. The first is a little tired looking, the second is pretty upbeat and positive, and the third – well – it makes you think about the dishes you have to do!
(There could be a fourth mention here about the difference in size. However, I think that’s obvious and not as important so I have opted not to make it part of my bulleted list of 3.)
Good Image Selections
Here are the 3 reasons why this collection of images works.
- The are all the same type of image – e.g., drawings done digitally.
- They all have words in the image somewhere.
- They have the same look/feel and show continuity – even if on different pages.
By sticking with the Writing Rule of 3’s, you’ll find that every aspect of your document is much easier to create, saving you a lot of time while giving you results that’s top notch.
One note: For those of you who are grammar fantics, I am perfectly aware that using the number 3 is not correct, and that it should be the word three spelled out. I have chosen to use the number to emphasize my point.
How can I help you be successful today?