Resume Format & Style

Your guide to creating the best resume format and style.

Looks matter. While the content of your resume is, of course, extremely important, that content may never be read if the format and style of the resume is displeasing to the eye. A resume must be aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read. Follow the advice below to ensure your resume is looking good.

Do Not Use Templates or "Resume Wizards" Although it can be tempting to open a pre-formatted document and just quickly type in your information, the people who designed the templates were not necessarily experts in writing resumes. Usually these styles are not a good fit for a college graduate and they are nearly impossible to edit if you do wish to make a change.

Use Standard Font Styles and Sizes Times New Roman and Arial are traditional, professional fonts that almost every computer can recognize and read. Try to stay away from Courier or other fonts that look like a typewriter. With the exception of your name, the entire resume should use the same style and size (10pt, 11pt or 12pt) font.

Emphasize Specific Information Your resume will be easier to read and more exciting if you consistently emphasize specific information. However, you will want to avoid using too many special tricks so that your resume becomes difficult to read.  Here are several things you can try: 

Useful for drawing attention to your name, section headings, employers and college names.

Bottom Border
This is nice to set your name and address apart from the rest of the text, or to separate your headings from the contents of each section. In Microsoft Word (prior to 2007 version), look for a square button in the toolbar that looks like a window. Click on the small arrow next to the square and choose the picture that has a black line on the bottom of the square. This will create a smooth, seamless line underneath any row of text.

All Caps
This is another good option for your name, section headings, employer/organization names and college names.

When used alone for items like your degree or job title, italics is a nice choice. It can also be combined with Bold or All Caps for a professional look.

When you are describing your work or leadership experience, the statements will be easier to follow if  you use bullets.

  • Small circles or squares are best. Fancy flowers and asterisks (*) don't look very professional.
Bullets are also helpful in making lists such as skills, courses, honors or activities. Bullets may be added in one of two ways. The easiest way is to click on the bullet icon on the formatting toolbar. The second way is to insert a bullet as a symbol. Do this by going to the "Insert" drop-down menu, choosing "Symbol" and then selecting a small square or circle bullet.

Addresses  Instead of stacking your street, city / state / ZIP and phone, put them all on one line that stretches across the page. See below how five lines...

Campus Address  Permanent Address
1000 Holt Avenue - 2587   1234 Any Street
Winter Park, FL  32789   Yourtown, PA  19230
407.646.2195   999.444.2378

...becomes two lines.

Campus Address: 1000 Holt Ave. -2587 Winter Park, FL 32789 407.646.2195

Permanent Address: 1234 Any St Yourtown, PA 19230 999.444.2378

Make Your Resume One Page In general, you can add a page for every five to ten years after college. Resumes should be concise, well-organized and easy to navigate. Current business practices dictate that it is inappropriate for recent college graduates to submit a resume over one page. In addition to considering the content, there are some formatting tips that can help keep your resume from spilling over onto a second page.  

Margins Most Word documents automatically allow a 1.0 inch margin on the top and bottom and a 1.25 inch margin on the left and right. You will almost always want to shrinking the left and right margins to 1.0 inch so the spacing is equal around all four edges. In some cases, you may need to change your margin size to .7 inch or .8 inch. Try to avoid using margins smaller than .5 inch, as this can often make your resume seem crowded. 

Space Between Lines Make sure you are single-spacing, rather than double-spacing.  Adding a blank space between entries and headings can help the reader more easily identify the different sections and listings in your resume.

Columns For lists, try using two columns instead of one. Type everything in one long column and hit "Enter." Then highlight only the items in the list (not the blank line below) and click on the column button (it looks like a tiny newspaper). Highlight the number of columns you want and click.

Center for Career and Life Planning
Rollins College
170 W. Fairbanks Bldg. – 1st Floor
1000 Holt Avenue – 2757
Winter Park, Florida  32789
T. 407.646.2195