Examples of the Rule of Three

A good presentation technique is the rule of three.

The rule of three is based on the technique that people tend to remember three things.  In oratoration it comes up all the time. So by repeating something three times or using the alliteration with three words, a quite ordinary speech becomes quite emotive.

Good speeches are peppered with lists with three items

1. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar
2. “Blood, sweat and tears” – General Patton
3. Our priorities are “Education, Education, Education” – Prime Minister, Tony Blair

They are used in religion…

1. “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”
2. “Faith, Hope and Charity”

… in Public Safety

1. “Stop, Look and Listen”

… and in the film industry

1. “The good, the bad and the ugly”
2. “Sex, lies and videotape”

Putting it simply if you want your message to be remembered put it into a list of three.

Think about – if there are only three points that I would like to leave my audience with, what would they be? And then use no more than three themes per slide.
Here are more examples of the rule of three.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
– the American Declaration of Independence

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people”
– the Gettysburg Address

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”
– Benjamin Disraeli

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”
– Sir Winston Churchill

“Never before in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few”
– – Sir Winston Churchill

“There are three principal ways to lose money: wine, women, and engineers. While the first two are more pleasant, the third is by far the more certain.
Baron Rothschild”

“Veni, vidi, vici”
(I came, I saw, I conquered) – Julius Caesar:

“Unwept, unhonored, unsung”
– Sir Walter Scott

“Duty – Honor – Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, and what you will be”
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur

“The rule is: jam tomorrow, and jam yesterday, but never jam today”
– Lewis Carroll. Through the Looking Glass

Here are some other classic combinations:

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato

Education, Education, Education

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

Bigger, Better, Stronger

Engage, Aspire, Excel

Love, Life, Lust

Do you have any other examples? Please add them into the comments box below.


Published On: 11th Aug 2006

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  1. Hi
    How about:

    Positive, negative, neutral

    Liberte, fraternite, egalite (sorry about the acutes)

    Australia had a sunscreen cream campaign to prevent skin cancer:

    Slip (on a shirt)
    Slop (on some cream)
    Slap (on a hat)



    Bill 31 Aug at 12:06 am
  2. There are three types of people: the ones who know how to count, and the ones who do not.

    Anil 17 Oct at 11:23 pm
  3. the common one is: me, myself and I.

    The one bank has changed their logo from simpler,better, faster

    Mpho 20 Oct at 3:49 pm
  4. Citius. altius, fortius

    BPA 29 Oct at 10:44 pm
    3 bases in Baseball
    3 bears
    3 Musketeers
    3 Stooges
    Able, Baker, Charlie
    animal, vegetable, mineral
    Appetizer, Main Course, Desert
    Bach, Beethoven, Brahms
    Blood, Sweat, Tears
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Democrat, Republican, Independent
    Duty, Honor, Country
    English, Irish, Scotch
    Ethos, Logos, Pathos       Aristotle’s three types of speeches)
    Faster, Higher, Stronger
    Father, Son, Holy Ghost
    Friends, Romans, Countrymen
    Go Fight, Win
    Good, Bad, Ugly
    Government of the people, by the people, for the people
    Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no Evil
    Homes have been lost, jobs shed, Businesses shuttered
    I came, I saw, I conquered
    Inky, Blinky, Clyde
    Legislative, Judicial, and Executive,
    Liberty Equality, Fraternity
    Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness
    Location Location, Location
    Long, Long, Ago
    Mayo 3 Shields ,,
    Morning, Afternoon, Evening
    Old, New, Benefits,
    Open, Body, Close,,
    Past, Present Future,
    Sex, Lies, Videotape
    Stop, Drop, and Run
    Stop, Look, Listen
    Superman: Truth, Justice, American Way
    Three Wise Men–three gifts gold, frankinsense and myrth
    Three-color flags
    Trilogies of fiction
    Tobacco, Alchol, and Guns
    Tom, Dick, Harry
    Verbal, Vocal, Visual             (parts of a talk)
    We can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground
    We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the Wine, Women, and Song
    Work of remaking America
    Work, Rest, Play
    You’re the ones who feed us, who wipe our tears, who hold our hands or hug us when we need it.

    Joe Sharp 10 Nov at 5:03 am
  6. shake, rattle and roll

    han 13 Nov at 6:50 pm
  7. stand up, speak up, shut up

    nige 1 Dec at 6:27 pm
  8. yesterday, today & tomorrow

    Roisin O'Donovan 2 Dec at 3:01 pm
  9. ding ding dong

    stb 3 Dec at 11:33 am
  10. Time, Effort, Money

    Stewart Smith, Head of English 6 Dec at 8:21 am
  11. one, two, three

    ARH 4 Jan at 8:57 am
  12. A – B – C

    Do – re – mi

    Anonymous 5 Jan at 5:15 pm
  13. stop, drop, roll

    Anonymous 24 Jan at 11:29 pm
  14. en – to – tre

    Mette 4 Mar at 11:28 pm
  15. rock, paper, scissors
    time, money and environment

    Lauren 9 Mar at 8:57 pm
  16. yes, no, maybe

    Lauren 9 Mar at 8:59 pm
  17. DOn’t like “English, Irish, Scotch” in Joe Sharp’s lonmg list – “English, Irish, and Scots” would be OK, as would be “American, Irish and Scotch”, but English whiskey?

    Tom 13 Mar at 9:38 pm
  18. The Few, the Proud, the Marines.

    Dave 18 Mar at 2:19 pm
  19. College, job, family.

    Nellie 3 Apr at 3:30 am
  20. “Honor, Courage, Commitment” – a motto in the US Navy

    “Heat, Fuel, Oxygen” – to stop a fire, remove one of the three.

    CogitoErgoCogitoSum 13 Apr at 9:15 pm
  21. Safety – Think it, talk it, work it!

    Anonymous 4 May at 5:52 am
  22. Would “Lights, Camara, Action” work?

    Alyssa R. 4 May at 9:03 pm
  23. “Love, Hate, Loneliness”

    “Adherence, Lament, Comply!”

    DnGr 3 Jun at 11:17 pm
  24. Shandrach, Meshach & Abednego

    hi lilly, hi lilly, hi lo

    James Roads 13 Jul at 8:02 pm
  25. Glory Honour and Power

    Pst Oluseyi Alakija 20 Jul at 4:16 pm
  26. There are three kinds of people: those who make it happen; those who watch it happen; and those who wonder what happened

    – Brian Tracey (I think)

    Anonymous 22 Jul at 3:55 pm
  27. Cut Copy Paste [Computers]
    Amar Akbar Anthony [Film]
    Pati Patni or Woh [Husband Wife & HER: The Love Triangle]

    Vividh Pawaskar 13 Aug at 6:22 pm
  28. Past Present Future
    Good Better Best
    … and so on

    Yaqoob 15 Sep at 2:17 pm
  29. Sola, perduta, abbandonata…

    (Alone, lost, abandoned…)
    Manon Lescaut, lost in the Louisiana desert in Puccini’s opera of the same name.

    Willem 7 Oct at 5:48 pm
  30. 3 little pigs
    3 billy goats gruff
    goldilocks and the tree bears
    3 blind mice
    england flag-has three lions

    lucyyy :) 29 Oct at 3:59 pm
  31. up, up and away

    meme 10 Nov at 1:30 am
  32. Ho Ho Ho

    Zohe 10 Nov at 1:31 am
  33. have we had “hook, line & sinker”

    Barb 17 Nov at 4:47 am
  34. the past is history, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift

    lol 27 Nov at 3:28 pm
  35. up down left

    me 17 Jan at 12:25 pm
  36. candle, book and bell

    captrick56 22 Jan at 4:14 am
  37. sit up,shut up and belt up

    Anonymous 1 Feb at 4:47 pm
  38. Hung, drawn & quartered

    Lucianne Kidd 7 Feb at 9:55 pm
  39. Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha
    Brahma Vishnu, Eshwara
    Vision Mission Action
    The impossible trinity in economics
    Left, Right and the Middle
    Solid, Liquid and Air
    Sun, Moon and the Stars
    Past, present and Future
    Positive, Zero and Negative
    Electron, Proton and Nutron
    Average, above average and below average
    Yes, No, and Undecided
    For, against and nutral
    Like, dislike and indifferent
    Length, breadth and depth
    X-axis, Y-axis and Z-axis

    Srinath 22 Feb at 1:09 pm
  40. In the stock market: Hope, greed and fear control all.

    Ben Gan 7 Mar at 7:03 am
  41. It wasn’t Patton who talked about “blood, sweat and tears;” it was Churchill:
    “I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined the government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'” 1940

    Jonny H 13 Apr at 12:16 am
  42. Beanz Meanz Heinz

    Jack Rowland 24 Apr at 9:13 pm
  43. Hip! Hip!! Hurrah!!
    Going, Going, Gone!

    TO 6 Jun at 1:40 pm
  44. Ready, Steady, Go.
    Hop, Step and Jump

    TO 6 Jun at 2:16 pm
  45. Arise , Awake and Stop not till goal is achieved _ Swami Vivekanand

    riya rathore 20 Jun at 3:37 pm
  46. See it, Say it, Do it

    Anonymous 23 Jun at 7:33 pm
  47. Yes, No, Maybe so

    Anonymous 23 Jun at 7:34 pm
  48. Money,power,respect

    Justm3 12 Sep at 3:23 am
  49. tom dick and harry

    uday 24 Sep at 2:55 pm
  50. ave attque vale (hail and fairwell) …i think

    anonymous 25 Oct at 5:14 pm
  51. this, that and the other

    Anonymous 29 Dec at 12:16 am
  52. going, going, gone!

    Anonymous 29 Jan at 3:34 pm
  53. Shades on, scarf on, attitude on….

    Anonymous 19 Feb at 3:58 pm
  54. what was the middle one, again?

    frodo 29 Apr at 9:16 pm
  55. sex, drugs, rock n roll
    see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

    ruccus 25 May at 8:40 pm
  56. skin,fruit,core

    Shalini 5 Aug at 3:51 pm
  57. Seen it, done it, got the T shirt!!

    Deborah 27 Oct at 3:51 pm
  58. In the Big Bang Theory (tv show) Sheldon knocks on Penny’s door three times and each time says “Penny!”

    Nicole 27 Nov at 12:35 am
  59. the people now a days want three things:
    entertainment, entertainment and entertainment

    Anonymous 29 Apr at 10:28 am
  60. Time to kill
    Money to burn
    Life to waste

    Anonymous 14 Feb at 6:37 am
  61. bacon lettuce and tomato

    eric 12 Mar at 11:02 pm
  62. red white and blue

    eric 12 Mar at 11:03 pm
  63. etcetera, etcetera,etcetera. The King and I.

    Antony 8 Jul at 10:54 am
  64. One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go cat go!

    Flip, Flop, Fly.

    Three withches of Macbeth.

    Three wishes


    Knock three times on the window if you want me.

    Three steps to heaven

    Three’s a crowd

    Three times a lady

    You, me and baby makes three

    Del, Rodney and Grandad

    What now, what next, where to?

    3 a.m. The witching hr

    Scrooge’s visitation by three ghosts.

    Three Corn Patches

    Three strikes and you’re out!

    One is fluke, two is coincidence, three is proof.

    Three musical chords, A,D,E C,F,G etc


    The first odd prime number is 3

    The rule of three

    Antony 8 Jul at 11:07 am
  65. Money, Money, Money

    Sex, drugs and Rock’n’Roll

    Mary, Mungo and Midge

    Father, Son and Holy Ghost

    Peter, Paul and Mary

    Antony 8 Jul at 11:52 am
  66. Martin Luther King’s speech

    Anonymous 6 Oct at 9:49 am
  67. Lead, Follow or get the hell out of the way

    Daniel 5 Nov at 6:27 pm
  68. red yellow green

    ryan 13 Jan at 10:45 am
  69. Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.

    Corky Ringspot 17 Feb at 12:36 am
  70. Get in, Get out, Get Paid.

    Jim Lad 19 Apr at 1:39 am
  71. Good, fast, cheap – pick any two (a project management rule)

    Lactobacillus Acidophilus 23 Apr at 10:51 pm
  72. “Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

    It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely.

    Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

    Then close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, There’s no place like home.

    Sapientissimus 24 Apr at 1:34 am
  73. Faster, stronger, higher.
    (It’s the Olympics motto)

    shay 8 Jun at 6:43 am
  74. Alif, Baa, Thaa
    arabic letters

    aik 22 Jul at 6:03 am
  75. Sugar Spice and Everything nice
    these were the ingredient to make the perfect girls.

    leevan 22 Jul at 6:05 am
  76. Blossoms Bubbles Buttercup

    Meekail 22 Jul at 6:06 am
  77. Ready, Set, Go.

    Sullivan 23 Oct at 10:59 am
  78. The good, the bad and the ugly….

    One, two, buckle my shoe
    Three, four, knock on the door
    Five, six, pick up sticks
    Seven, eight, close the gate
    Nine, ten, a big fat hen…….

    jo 1 Nov at 9:52 pm
  79. Here, there, everywhere. Beatles

    Tom M 5 Nov at 5:34 am
  80. Ready, Steady, Bake

    Bill 29 Nov at 12:40 pm
  81. Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the way!

    John V 31 Jan at 8:49 pm
  82. Bigger better brighter

    esther 22 Feb at 3:47 pm
  83. Liberté, égalité, fraternité

    cici 14 Mar at 1:36 pm
  84. Destruction, death and doom

    Anonymous 15 Mar at 9:52 pm
  85. ein reich, ein volk, ein fuhrer. [Not one I believe in but one I remember from doing history at school!]

    Athene 1 Apr at 12:45 am
  86. In Gremlins there are three rules. No bright light, Don’t get them wet, and don’t feed them after midnight.

    CharleyN 17 May at 5:00 am
  87. You and me and a dog named Boo
    Mother, maiden, crone
    Sun, moon and stars
    Get up, dress up, show up
    Bad things come in threes
    Bacon, bacon, bacon! Lol

    Dawfin 24 Jun at 5:43 am
  88. Run, hide, fight. From terrorist training. ☹️

    Dawfin 24 Jun at 5:45 am
  89. Location, Location, Location.. (a key to business success)

    David 23 Oct at 3:19 am
  90. Live,love,BFF

    Notgonnatellya 5 Nov at 1:21 pm
  91. And my three favorite:
    Me, myself and I

    Winwinwendy 3 Jan at 10:40 pm
  92. Business Family Friends

    Rex di Noci 11 Feb at 8:38 pm
  93. diligence dexterity determination

    plang 20 Mar at 9:26 am
  94. Good afternoon good evening and goodnight

    Anon 4 Jun at 7:42 am
  95. iPad iPod iPhone

    Ishan 10 Jun at 5:30 am
  96. Lights, camera, action!

    Tola 11 Jun at 1:37 pm
  97. Fidelity, bravery, integrity.
    Chemistry, biology, physics.
    Heat, fuel, oxygen= fire
    Protons, neutrons, electrons.
    For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Donna 13 Jun at 11:35 pm
  98. Good, better, best, never let it rest ’till the good is better and the better is the best.

    nkksss 3 Oct at 12:58 pm
  99. Peace, Land and Bread
    – Lenin

    onefly27 22 Oct at 2:44 pm
  100. As a dentist, I can see the rule of three so often. For example when I present to the patient a condition in their mouth, when I explain the consequences and then the resolution. Thanks for the thoughtful article.

    Bruce Howell 22 Jan at 3:52 pm
  101. Aspire, believe , act and succeed

    Bob 4 Apr at 10:20 am
  102. Remember TIM when buying a house…Taxes, Insurance, Maintenance

    Nancy 17 Apr at 4:04 pm
  103. Aim, shoot, reload.

    A Roman in America 20 Jun at 2:55 am
  104. Love, Peace, and Soul
    Earth, Wind, Fire
    Up, Down, Sideways
    Month, date, year
    Mind, body, soul
    Planes, trains, automobiles
    Bing, bang, bong

    Glora 23 Sep at 9:08 pm
  105. Birth, death, resurrection

    Glora 23 Sep at 9:10 pm
  106. vision, eloquence, and consistency.

    sherlynn 13 Oct at 7:17 am