I’m in love! Copyblogger might be the most creative resource – ever. But, then I am a wee tad partial. Each week I look forward to creative ideas and new ways of learning to do what I do better – write stellar content. If you can relate, read on.
A few weeks ago they did a blog about the magic of the number three. Not only was it entertaining and informative, it was downright science!
I want to share this excerpt with you from “The Rule of Three”, by Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.
“It’s no coincidence that some of the most famous quotes from throughout history are structured in three parts, nor is it surprising that the Rule of Three also works wonders in the world of comedy.
It all comes down to the way we humans process information. We have become proficient at pattern recognition by necessity, and three is the smallest number of elements required to create a pattern.
This combination of pattern and brevity results in memorable content, and that’s why the Rule of Three will make you a more engaging writer.
Have you ever wondered…
- What the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Musketeers, the Three Wise Men and the Three Stooges have in common?
- Why the three-act structure is the dominant approach to screenwriting in Hollywood?
- Why three bullet points are more effective than two or four?
Information presented in groups of three sticks in our heads better than other clusters of items. For example:
- “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
- “Friends, Romans, Countrymen”
- “Blood, sweat, and tears”
- “Location, location, location”
- “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”
- “Faith, Hope, and Charity”
- “Mind, body, spirit”
- “Stop, Look, and Listen”
- “I came, I saw, I conquered”
One of the best examples of the power of the Rule of Three is in the world of comedy.The Rule of Three fits the classic joke structure of set-up, anticipation, and punchline. The three-part grouping also allows for tension to build and then be released thanks to the surprise and absurdity contained in the third element.
‘I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.’ Jon Stewart
Other Uses for the Rule of Three
I truly do believe that a set of three bullet points is the most effective use of the format. You might also find that list posts with three items will draw people in, because you’ve boiled things down to the essence with no fluff. And there’s a reason why people like to be presented with three choices rather than two or five.
When it comes to pleasing the human brain, it seems like three is simply a magic number. “
I can personally attest to the fact that the Rule of Three works in emails and landing pages when doing bullet points. After we tested three against six bullet points and only two, three was definitely the magic number for higher open rates and CTRs.