The Different Spreads of Tarot Card Reading

The practice of tarot card reading is spiritual and requires intuition. However, a lot like science, the answer you receive within a reading will be based on the experimental design – the type of spread you choose will determine the reading you get.

The tarot spread is the pattern by which cards are chosen out of the tarot card deck. The deck of cards is usually shuffled by the one there to receive the reading; while they are shuffling, they are asked to think about the questions they want to be answered or the intent with which they came to receive the reading. The chosen tarot spread will guide the reader’s interpretation of the individual’s (one who is there to receive the reading) story.

Some tarot spreads are geared towards certain issues such as psychological healing, decision making, and relationships.

In this article, we will be going over some of the different types of tarot spreads.

One Card Tarot Spread

As the name suggests, this spread utilizes just one card within free online tarot reading. This type of spread is suggested for beginner tarot card readers and individuals with a limited amount of time.

How to Perform a One Card Tarot Spread

  • Think of a question about an aspect of your life that you need more clarity in. This question should not reach an answer with a simple yes or no – they should begin with the keywords ‘How, Who, What, or Where.’
  • Take the deck of cards into your hand to spread your energy into them. Think of the question you want to ask while holding them.
  • After holding the cards, begin to shuffle them until you feel you should stop, after which you spread the cards.
  • Pick the card from the spread that calls out the most to you – that card will help answer and find guidance on your question.

Three Card Tarot Spread

This spread makes use of three cards. Unlike the one card tarot spread, this spread is more adaptable to many different types of questions and provides deeper insight. This type of spread follows a certain pattern such as past-present-future, situation-obstacle-advice, and mind-body-spirit.

How to Perform a Three Card Tarot Spread

  • Follow the first three steps from the one card tarot spread.
  • Instead of picking just one card in step four, you will pick three.
  • Based on the pattern you are following, your chosen cards will correspond accordingly:
    • If you are going with the past-present-future pattern, the first card you choose represents the past, the second represents the present, and the third represents the future.
    • For the situation-obstacle-advice pattern, the first card corresponds to the individual’s situation, the second represents the elements causing the problem, and the third gives the solution.
    • When following the mind-body-spirit pattern, the cards chosen can represent the current state or advice regarding the three aspects of the pattern.

Five Card Tarot Spread

With this spread, we delve even deeper into the information given by the three card spread; in other words, the five card spread adds on to the information given by the three card spread.

The five card spread comes in two formations:

  • Cross Formation – This formation builds on the three card formation. Within this spread, the middle row of cards can represent the past, present, and future. To form the cross, one card is placed below the middle row (card four), and one is placed above (card five). Card four represents the core reason behind the individual’s circumstances, and card five represents the situation’s potential.
  • Rectangle Formation – The first four cards are placed in a rectangle formation (card one on the top left, card two on the top right, card three on the bottom left, and card four on the bottom right) while the fifth card is placed in the center. The first four cards are defined loosely; they can represent fears, lessons, or desires, while the fifth card represents the general theme.

How to Perform a Five Card Tarot Spread

  • Follow the first three steps from the one card tarot spread
  • For step four, you will pick five cards. The placement and meaning of each card will depend on the formation you choose.

Yes or No Tarot Spread

The Yes or No Tarot Spread is the kind of spread used to answer specific questions. This spread is good for beginners in tarot reading. This spread involves a focused question that can be answered by either “yes” or “no.” Only one card is drawn, and it provides the answer to the question.

For this spread, you don’t need to have a deep knowledge of the symbolism behind each card – you just need to know which card represents “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.”


Having a deep knowledge of the spreads within tarot can be your first step towards becoming a tarot card reader. If you are an individual who is going to receive a tarot card reading, being aware of the types of spreads and the meaning behind them can help you understand your reading further.

The spreads between physical and online readings don’t differ; all these spreads are available in the form of physical and online readings. Knowing the meaning behind each spread can be especially helpful if you choose to receive an online reader, where a tarot reader won’t be there to guide you through the reading.

The spread you choose should coincide with the answers you seek and the questions you have. It is important to choose the correct spread as the guidance and advice you receive will depend on it – your reading will be rendered useless if you end up getting advice not applicable to your problems.

Much like the cards in the deck, each reading holds its own meaning and symbolism; they all have varying depths and qualities and will give you different types of information.

In order to pick the right spread for you, talk to a tarot reader. Mention the questions you want to ask and the areas in which you need guidance – they will surely recommend the right spread for you.