The Rule of Three

Omne Trium Perfectum – everything that comes in threes is perfect

Part 1: The Rule of Three
Part 2: Improve Your Speech Writing with The Rule of Three
Part 3: The Three Question Rule

OKAY, you may be thinking, what’s so special about the number 3?

Good question.

The “Rule of Three” is the name given to that magical law of nature whereby things that come in threes appear to be just right. In ancient times, the Roman’s understood this rule and referred to it with the Latin maxim “omne trium perfectum” which means “everything that comes in threes is perfect”. And today we have English sayings such as “third time lucky” and “third time’s a charm”, which seem to reflect the same idea.

Information presented in groups of three will stick in the head of your audience better than any other grouping of information. Why is this? The most plausible explanation is that since people are generally good at pattern recognition and three is the smallest number of points required to create a pattern, information presented in threes forms a pattern which can be more easily remembered. As a result, information presented in a group of three is more memorable that information presented in groups of say, two or five.

The US Marines believe in the Rule of Three, and use it to structure their organisation and ensure that everyone’s job remains manageable. “In a nutshell, the rule is this: each marine has three things to worry about. In terms of organizational structure, the “rule of three” means a corporal has a three-person fire team; a sergeant has a squad of three fire teams; a lieutenant and a staff sergeant have a platoon of three squads; and so on, up to generals.” (

There is something magical about the number three.

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One Reply to “The Rule of Three”

  1. There’s a military saying that states that “In The army, everything divides into three parts”, and i’m far from being a U.S Mrine, so it’s probably common in any military force. I personally think that dividing a problem or subject into three parts gives you some sort of MECE. It is the minimal division that you need in order to get a comprehensive understanding of the subject in hand, from several, completing, points of view.

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