Choosing Lower Thirds

Lower Thirds | Overview

Lower thirds are the often overlooked stepchild in the graphics world. They are sometimes remembered at the last minute when the editor is wrapping up a session, or graphic artists will spend all of their energy on titles and forget to give some love to the lower thirds.

But they are an important part of your video presentation and they say just as much about the overall piece as any other graphic or how it's edited. We're going to review some tips for creating or picking the right lower thirds for your video.

Clarity Matters Most

The most important thing to remember with lower thirds, is no matter what style you use, clarity matters. Lower thirds are there to help the viewer get information like a person's name, a location, or an important fact. Design lower thirds that are easy to read and convey information quickly.

Pick a lower third design that is large enough to convey information without intruding on your visuals too much.

Choose fonts that are easy to read, especially if your video may be played on smaller screens. Consider bold text that contrasts against the background.

Only put in the information you need. Lower thirds should convey meaning as quickly as possible, so limit the wording to what is needed. The longer the viewer needs to spend reading the lower third, the longer their attention is taken away from the rest of the video.

Create a hierarchy of information in the lower third. For example, when showing a person's name and occupation, make the name line larger and the occupation smaller. This will give the viewer a subtle sense of what to look at first, second, etc. This will also help to break up the text to make it easier to digest.

Lower Thirds | Hierarchy

Be Stylish

Lower thirds don't just have to be blocks on screen. Adding some dimension with outlines, shapes, and additional graphic elements can help tie the lower thirds in with the rest of your graphics or create a unique look for your presentation.

But don't overdo it either. Too many design elements will take away the clarity that we discussed in the first segment. And overwhelming graphics may confuse the viewer and take their attention away from the key information.

Strike a balance between visual interest and visual overload. Subtle and tasteful graphic elements will enhance and bring a level of polish to your video.

Pick colors that match the rest of your graphics or fit with the brand that you are presenting. Limit your color palette to a few colors, or consider a monochromatic look that won't overwhelm the viewer.

When appropriate, use a subtle transparency to let the video bleed through behind the lower thirds. This can be very useful in incorporating the lower thirds into the scene, but remember to not let it interfere with clarity. If the lower third is too transparent or the background video is distracting, the lower third may be hard to read.


Adding animation to your lower thirds is another way to bring up the overall production value of your graphics. Polished animations to bring your lower thirds on and off screen will help guide the viewer's eye to the important information coming on screen.

Animations will give the sense that the graphics are important, and using animation techniques that match other graphic elements from your video will help tie the visual look together.

As with all of the above points, keep clarity in mind when considering how to animate. Build animations that enhance the overall appeal and make it easier to read the text, instead of building animations that dazzle but distract and confuse the viewer.

Animated lower thirds will really help to make your video look professional as long as the animations themselves are professional.

Consider Using Templates

Creating professional animated lower thirds from scratch can be quite an undertaking if you are busy handling edits, or if design isn't your main focus.

Consider using a template for lower thirds that can be easily updated to your specific needs. Many templates offer easy ways to change colors, update text, and come with a variety of size options.

Getting comfortable with a lower third template will save you loads of time while getting you the professional result you want for your video.

Here are some of the lower third After Effects templates available at Motion Array.


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