Tire rotation patterns vary depending on whether the tires are designed to rotate in just one direction, whether the car is front-, rear-, four- or all-wheel drive, whether the car has a mini or full spare, and whether the tires have staggered fitments. These patterns even tire wear over time.
If tires are nondirectional (can rotate in either direction) and are the same size, they rotate in a forward cross or X-pattern on front-wheel drive vehicles. Forward cross brings the front tires straight back to the rear, while the rear tires go to opposite sides on the front. The X-pattern moves front tires to the opposite rear position (and vice versa). Rear- or four-wheel drive cars use a rearward cross, bringing the rear tires straight up front and putting the front tires on opposite rear spots.
If tires are directional (only rotate in one direction) they should rotate front to back or back to front on the same side of the vehicle. If the front and rear tires are different sizes in this scenario, the front tires swap places, and so do the rear tires.
In cars with a full-size spare, some people incorporate that fifth tire in a rotation to wear all five tires evenly. When the spare is necessary, if the wear is noticeably different, it places extra force on the drive train in four- and all-wheel drive vehicles.