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First Angle Projection vs. Third Angle Projection: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 16, 2024
First angle projection places the object between the viewer and the plane, common in Europe. Third angle projection places the plane between the viewer and the object, typical in the U.S.

Key Differences

First angle projection, standard in Europe, displays the object in a way that seems inversed to some, with views arranged counter-intuitively. Third angle projection, prevalent in the U.S., offers a more 'natural' view arrangement, akin to how the object would be seen in reality.
In first angle projection, the top view is below the front view, while in third angle projection, the top view is placed above the front view. This affects how engineers and designers interpret the drawings.
First angle projection often requires more mental adjustment for those accustomed to viewing objects as they are in real life. Third angle projection is more intuitive for those familiar with perceiving objects from a direct viewpoint.
The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) endorses first angle projection, while the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) advocates for third angle projection, reflecting regional preferences.
Understanding the difference is crucial for engineers and designers working internationally, as misinterpretation can lead to errors in construction or manufacturing. Both methods require a clear understanding of spatial relationships.

Comparison Chart

Placement of Object

Between viewer and plane
Plane between viewer and object

Standard Regions

Europe, Asia
United States, Canada

Top View Position

Below the front view
Above the front view


Less intuitive, counter-intuitive arrangement
More intuitive, natural arrangement

Endorsing Organizations

ISO (International Organization for Standardization)
ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

First Angle Projection and Third Angle Projection Definitions

First Angle Projection

Endorsed by the ISO for international standards.
According to ISO standards, first angle projection is the preferred method.

Third Angle Projection

Predominant in the U.S. and Canada for technical drawings.
Our U.S. office primarily uses third angle projection for designs.

First Angle Projection

Crucial for engineers working in global contexts.
Global engineers often switch between first and third angle projections.

Third Angle Projection

Common in American engineering education.
Engineering students in the U.S. typically learn third angle projection first.

First Angle Projection

A method where the object is placed between the viewer and projection plane.
In first angle projection, the left view appears on the right side.

Third Angle Projection

Offers a more natural and intuitive view for many.
Third angle projection aligns more closely with how we see objects in real life.

First Angle Projection

It can seem inversed for those used to third angle projection.
First angle projection requires a mental flip to understand.

Third Angle Projection

Endorsed by the ANSI for American standards.
ANSI standards recommend using third angle projection.

First Angle Projection

Common in Europe, it's used for technical drawings.
Our European office uses first angle projection for all engineering designs.

Third Angle Projection

A drawing method where the plane is between the viewer and object.
In third angle projection, the right view is placed on the right side.


Where is first angle projection mainly used?

It's mainly used in Europe and Asia.

How does the top view placement differ?

In first angle, the top view is below the front view; in third angle, it's above.

Where is third angle projection predominantly used?

It's commonly used in the United States and Canada.

What is first angle projection?

A technical drawing method placing the object between the viewer and projection plane.

Which is more intuitive?

Third angle projection is generally more intuitive, especially in North America.

What standard does first angle projection follow?

It adheres to ISO standards.

Can using the wrong projection cause issues?

Yes, using the incorrect projection can lead to misinterpretation in engineering drawings.

What is third angle projection?

A drawing technique with the plane between the viewer and the object.

What standard does third angle projection follow?

It conforms to ANSI standards.

Is third angle projection taught worldwide?

It's mainly taught in regions where it's the standard, like North America.

Does software for technical drawing accommodate both methods?

Most modern software can switch between both projection methods.

Can an engineer be proficient in both methods?

Yes, with practice, an engineer can become proficient in both.

Do international projects require knowledge of both?

Yes, international collaboration often necessitates understanding both methods.

Are there specific industries that prefer one method over the other?

It more so depends on the geographical location than the industry itself.

Why are there two different projection standards?

It evolved from different engineering practices and regional preferences.

Are these projection methods relevant in digital 3D modeling?

Yes, understanding these concepts is beneficial, even in 3D modeling.

Is first angle projection easy to learn for someone used to third angle?

It might require some adjustment due to the different view arrangement.

Are there visual aids to help understand these projections?

Yes, there are diagrams and software tools to aid in understanding both projections.

How does one indicate which projection method is used in a drawing?

It's usually indicated by a symbol or note on the technical drawing.

Is one method better than the other?

Neither is inherently better; it depends on regional standards and personal preference.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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