The Golden Ratio is the stuff of legend (and I believe some derision if Pepsi's latest logo change is of any indication) and is purported to have been used in many famous projects. My question is two-fold, really: Is the Golden Ratio really a good tool used in modern design (defined here as 20th century on forward), and if so, how often is it used outside of the aforementioned known uses?

EDIT: To @e100's first comment, examples of modern use of the Golden Ratio would be a great thing to add here if there any documented or arguably conclusive uses of it.


6 Answers 6


I asked a similar question on the usefulness of the Golden Ratio on the User Interface site. Unfortunately, there isn't any compelling and objective evidence that the Golden Ratio actually does what everyone says it does, despite the plethora of blog posts about it.

That said, I don't think that using the Golden Ratio hurts a design. It's an eye-pleasing proportion and a design always benefits from following a plan.

I don't have statistics regarding the use of the Golden Ratio, but anecdotally, I think that more logos and websites don't use it than do. The majority of web designs and logos simply aren't created by trained designers and so less people will actually be aware of it.

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    I think that many of the designers that use the golden ratio don't sit down and think "I'm going to incorporate the golden ratio", quite often it just falls that way because the GR is actually quite pleasing to look at, so as proportions go they probably sized it in lots of different ways and then the most pleasing just happened to be the GR. That being said, the GR is used a lot more prevalently in layouts than logos and graphics. Laying out a magazine with the GR is quite often the preferred style unless you are going for something a little more abstract.
    – Dan Hanly
    Jan 20, 2011 at 16:53
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    "Laying out a magazine with the GR is quite often the preferred style" = I don't believe that is necessarily true at all. It may be common, but hardly preferred. In fact, I'd argue the preferred style is quite often a column based grid that fits the sheet of paper.
    – DA01
    Aug 24, 2015 at 21:23

Using golden ratio it is a good practice, because it is a constant proportion, but at the same time it increase in exponential matter, becoming interesting respect to other proportions. You shouldn't feel compelled to use it, but it is a great guideline in defining a design project.

If you talk about modern, on the internet, you cannot just apply the golden ratio to a web designed page. You can apply it on graphic design, software or product design, and it is nice applied because it is a proportion that it is doesn't look boring.

The reason that you cannot apply to web design it is because, web design it is a flexible design and not static/immutable: text can change proportion, different monitor proportions, layout can change size, the disposition of paragraphs and images can lose the relation. Too many variables to take in consideration.

I saw websites done by good designers trying to apply it, but still users with a simple click or resize of a page can change the whole proportion losing the effect. So for me you cannot apply golden ratio to something that cannot maintain a static proportions. You can try, but the effort of achieving it, it is not worth the result.


The new twitter design is based off the golden ratio:

alt text

Source: Twitter's Flickr page

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    I believe they have changed the width of the two columns since, Golden Ratio no longer applies. To me, the use was GR was a bit gimmicky. I don't think it works well on the web, at all. Golden Ratio, like many grid systems serves as a guide. As a designer, we need to think about what the best way to present content first, instead of thinking what grid system to choose. (btw I didn't downvote).
    – Jin
    Jan 8, 2011 at 5:39
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    -1: I think this is a misleading graphic - yes, the width of the two main columns approximately follows the Golden Ratio, but the overall cropping of the screen to a Golden Rectangle and inscribed red lines seem to imply there's more to it, including some kind of height relationship, which just isn't there. The relationships at top right seem to work in this particular graphic, but that's dependent on the length of the username and tweet.
    – e100
    Jan 9, 2011 at 10:07

I don't know the answer, but I'm fairly sure that its use is massively outweighed by the 1:(square root of 2) ratio, approximately equal to 1.414, used for ISO paper sizes globally and thus all kinds of posters, leaflets, flyers, brochures, magazines, etc.

Or simple ratios like 1:2, 1:3, 2:3 etc, which often occur in layouts based on columns or grids.


The golden ratio is probably the most common ratio found in nature. It is the underlying key that connects us to the micro- and macrocosmos and is therefore the most familiar ratio to all human beings. It is a constant. Humans have been using the golden ratio in their artworks for thousands of years knowing that it is the key to harmonic design. The ancient egypts and greeks, among others, were using the golden ratio to create their most sophisticated pieces; when the romans tried to imitate the greek design without this knowledge, their statues turned out "sketchy" and intrinsically imperfect.

Probably the main aspect of Renaissance-art was the rediscovery and use of ancient knowledge for new creations. The "great-masters" of that time like Leonardo da Vinci, Brunelleschi and Duerer were not only artists but also mathematicians or alchemists and relied on this "divine proportion" in their works.

In modern times the golden ratio is also used in the most iconic designs. It can be found in almost every Apple product, almost every luxury-car on the market, and iconic logo-designs of big brands such as Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pepsi, Toyota, bp, National Geography and many more.

In my opinion the application of the golden ratio is something every designer or artist should be familiar with. It is the key to an iconic and natural design to which the recipient will immediately feel used to. Get familiar with the concepts (do not only read about it, but grab a pair of compasses and try it out yourself). It can serve both as a handy tool for creating your final design, but also for the stage of conceptualization as you can simply draw some golden-ratio-shapes and get inspired by the intrinsic similarity to some natural forms. Some of the best designers are really crazy about it!


Just a Comment I found interesting

Note to designers: Golden Ratio Typography is intended to serve as a basis for proper typesetting. Factors such as x-height and other typeface metrics also influence typography and should be considered in finalized designs. Golden Ratio Typography provides the most rational starting point for adjustments of this nature.


  • "Golden Ratio Typography provides the most rational starting point" = a purely subjective comment.
    – DA01
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:21
  • @DA01: Not a expert of this mate but I found it helpful so added to the post.
    – Jawad
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:25
  • I think it does, in a way. The 'golden ratio' tends to be a bit of an overused design platitude. ;)
    – DA01
    Aug 30, 2012 at 22:46
  • @DA01: As I said, no more than a noob in this field, have no idea about what is leading or kerning in a font even. Did not even know "GR" existed. Always thougt it was 1:4:9 but that was quantum mechanics. The OP and others who asnwered are better "rivals (for want of a better term)" in favour or against this concept. Been a good reading though.
    – Jawad
    Aug 30, 2012 at 23:07

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