How often do we think about lines and design orientation? The answer, whether or not it’s true, should be pretty often when it comes to any area of design. Horizontal vs vertical lines, orientation, and design elements make a huge impact on any graphic design, and you’ve got to choose the right one for your project. Here’s a little help to do so.

A Bit on Graphic Design Composition

Composition is what makes an image. It’s all of the small parts coming together cohesively to make one aesthetically pleasing image. This includes elements like color, images, fonts, text, shapes, lines, and orientation. For now, we are going to focus on orientation which includes a little about lines. The orientation of an image, design, or graphic depends on its line structure. Horizontal lines, as we know, follow the horizon, so they go straight across. Vertical lines go up and down. As this works with other elements to bring an image together, you either get a horizontal image or a vertical one.

Think about photos; this is one of the most common compositions to talk about. Photos either have a vertical orientation (portrait) or a horizontal one (landscape). Sure, you have your square photos, too, but that’s not for today.

As you think about photo composition and horizontal vs vertical orientation, you’ve got to envision a line grid. Imagine a tic tac toe board placed on your image from top to bottom and side to side. You want your focal points to hit the line intersections. This will help you decide composition orientation and whether to go horizontal or vertical.

The rule of thirds

You’ll often hear the rule of thirds referred to in any kind of design, including graphic design. This plays into horizontal vs vertical orientation. Here’s a great explanation of the rule of thirds:

The rule of thirds is a simple technique where designers divide their designs up into three rows and three columns, and at the points where the vertical and horizontal lines meet is where your focal points should be.

An easy way to look at this is to think about a landscape photo. Let’s go with a grassy field. Sure, many people think let’s center that horizon line right in the middle, that makes sense, right? Not so much; it simply cuts your image in half. But if you raise that horizon line up and place it where the first horizontal line of the grid is, you have a much more aesthetically pleasing photo. Then if you can place another focal point on a vertical line, you’re in business. Maybe a dog catching a ball, a tree, or even a flower. Now you have a beautifully composed photo and you’ve learned a bit about the rule of thirds and horizontal vs vertical orientation. But oh, there’s so much more to learn!

And remember, this rule of thirds is for anything visual. From photos to fliers to web design to Instagram posts, keep this in mind.

Lines: another crucial element in horizontal vs vertical design

We mentioned lines regarding horizontal vs vertical design and the rule of thirds. There’s more to the element of lines, though. As any good graphic artist knows, lines can draw the eye where you want the viewer to look. shares this valuable information on lines and line structure in design:

Among the elements of good page design, whether for print or web, is the concept of direction, which closely aligns with movement. Elements in the page design intentionally guide the viewers’ eyes from one area of the page to another.

  • Horizontal:If you divide the page or screen in half from side to side with a line or other element, the eye moves to each element in the top half of the design before moving to the section under the horizontal line or element that divides the page.
  • Vertical:If you have two long, narrow columns of text or two long, narrow photos or graphic elements, you have a design with a vertical direction. The eye flows from the top of one column to its bottom and then moves to the top of the second column.

These elements are crucial in creating the feel, the composition, and the direction of the layout on the page, photo, or any type of graphic. Using line elements helps ensure you are making the right choice of horizontal vs vertical design.

Examples of Horizontal vs Vertical Design

So know that we understand a bit of the basics, let’s see how we can implement horizontal vs vertical designs to get the best, most effective, and most aesthetically pleasing work. Just a quick reminder, horizontal designs are wider than they are tall, and vertical ones are taller than wide. Here are some projects you may be working on and debating about orientation.

Business cards

This seemingly small piece of marketing material may not seem that significant, but it can make a big impact. Whether you work face to face and often exchange cards or maybe you’re an online merchant and like to make sure your packaging is eye-catching which includes your card, make sure your card depicts you and your business.

This piece from our own Bunny Studio library shares some great information on business cards and their design.

 A business card is an excellent tool to create a great first impression. It’s also quite useful when establishing an initial form of communication with a person or company. They also serve as a token or memento by which someone can be remembered more easily.

The traditional business card layout is horizontal. You can picture it, a nice white card with black text in a horizontal layout. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But you could bump it up a notch by adding color and images. Think about your industry, the more creative it is, the more creative your card can be.

We are also seeing more and more vertically designed business cards. This adds a nice element stepping away from the traditional. It also depends on the graphics you’re putting on the card. Do they fit in this format, or would horizontal work better? Think back to that rule of thirds to help you decide between horizontal vs vertical. Remember, your card sets the tone of your business upfront so understanding the purpose of the design helps tell a story and innovatively unify all that a brand stands for.

Remember, business cards should have your logo and that can help determine their orientation as well. All these elements should tie your brand together.


We don’t often think about the orientation of websites, but maybe we should. Website orientation has a few considerations such as audience and device. That’s why if you’re creating a website, you should usually have a mobile option, too. The Design Range shares some valuable information on horizontal vs vertical orientation for website design. The bottom line is to make it good for your users.

The shift between orientation has to have a purpose, to engage viewers and keep them coming back.

Unlike other things, there is no such thing as one size fits all in website design, so make sure to think ahead and consider carefully these two things: what are the most important things you want to get across, and where are viewers most likely to access this information.

Features like videos look best in horizontal (landscape) mode while things like books, articles, and lists are easier to view in vertical (portrait) orientation. A good website designer should talk about these features with you.

horizontal vs vertical


Horizontal vs vertical orientation in regards to photos doesn’t just play into taking photos but also displaying them. Sure, some forethought should be given when taking them, but with editing, you can often turn a vertical photo into a horizontal one and vice versa if it fits your purpose better. It’s pretty easy to remember, too, with the names of portrait and landscape. In other words, take your portraits vertically and your landscapes horizontally. With portraits, use the eyes as focal points along with our rule of thirds.

Maybe you write a blog and want a certain photo in a certain space. If the space calls for a vertical image but the one you want is horizontal, see if you can play with cropping and resizing to fit it. Just be careful not to damage the integrity of the photo composition itself. It’s also much easier to convert a horizontal photo to vertical with cropping than the other way around.

People often tend to take pictures with their phones in vertical mode, but just flip your phone to a horizontal orientation and see how much more you can fit in the screen and how much you have to play with the rule of thirds. In fact, did you know that most smartphones have grids on their photo apps for the rule of thirds? How easy is that?

Summing Up Horizontal vs Vertical Orientation in Design

Maybe this is all new to you or it’s just clarifying what you already know. It’s funny how a simple tweak in design can make all the difference. The same goes for marketing, so when you put the two together, that design tweak can have a big effect on your marketing and business. Remember, a more user-friendly website is designed with orientation in mind and can have a big impact on your audience which is your customer base. See how this works?

Playing around with this can be so fun for some of us, but for others, well, they’d rather focus on other aspects of their business. If you’d like some assistance from our pro graphic designers in any of these areas, please reach out to us at Bunny Studio. We’d love to help you out in any area, and we promise, we’re easy to work with!