Tips for Formatting a Resume

February 18th 2016 in Resumes

formatting a resume

Do you swear by Times New Roman for your resume and cover letter?

Maybe you also still tease and perm your hair, too? Or rock the white high-tops with the acid-washed jeans?

Just as with fashion, graphic design trends come and go. Formatting a resume is an ever-evolving balance of style and functionality that has to accommodate technological advances and limitations as well.

Take the matter of fonts. In some circles, Times New Roman is considered the death of a resume. It’s the generic default font that you didn’t care enough to change…unless you’re in the legal field or more buttoned-up corporate industries where, according to a recent article on, Times New Roman is a classic.

The article goes on to list nine other fonts that will remain readable on most screens and represent you well, identifying the “personality” of each.

Just as important is avoiding a font that could appear garbled in some software programs or, perhaps worse, make you seem frivolous and unprofessional. Comic Sans may be an obvious inclusion on’s list of worst resume fonts, but did you know you should steer clear of Courier New, too?

Formatting a resume today also means making sure it looks good on a mobile device. Yes, hiring managers might be viewing your entire career on a screen as small as their smartphone. Text boxes just don’t work in this case. And paragraphs should be limited to two to three sentences for readability.

What about when you’re forced to submit your information through a human resources portal? There’s no formatting a resume when you have to type in your job history screen by screen. But you can present your resume with design integrity intact by attaching a PDF (not a Word document—spacing and fonts can change from computer to computer). Even better, try to find out who the hiring manager is and send him or her your resume directly.

There’s a lot to take into consideration when formatting a resume: trends, industry style, readability, technology. We’re constantly watching the evolution of design for our resume-writing clients. And don’t forget that most important formatting tool of all: spell check!


Image by Ryan McGuire

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