Word Tips for Resumes

For those of you who are Word gurus, you can skip this section. Here are a summary of tricks I've picked up while writing resumes over the years.

How to set margins:

Go to File ->Page Setup.

Set your margins for no less than 1" all around. Anything smaller looks crowded.

How to set font characteristics:

I do not recommend mixing font types within a resume, but there are things you can do to set font size and characteristics. I recommend Times New Roman (most likely your default fort). Don't overdo it with the characteristics. You should need no more than a half dozen "styles" to get through a resume.

To apply a style to text, highlight the text you want to which you want to apply the style and use the icons and windows indicated below.

Font Characteristics: Use the following icons on the toolbar to make bold, underlined and italicized text.

How to set font size:

Use the following window to set the font size.

I recommend using font size 12 for headlines and 11 for plain text. You can use larger fonts for headers if you wish, but I certainly would not go smaller.

How to set line justification:

There are 4 kinds of justification:

Left justified - text is flush against the left margin
Center justified - text is centered in the field
Right justified - text is flush against the right margin
Full justified - text is flush against both margins.

Full justification looks neat if you are putting multiple columns on the page as in a newspaper. However, unless you use a lot of short words and hyphenation the paragraph can spread out and you will have big gaps in the text. While I recommend small words on a resume (they are easier to read), I do not recommend hyphenation (other than for grammatical purposes).

Cloning a style

Once you get a block of text looking like you want it, you can apply that style anywhere else. To do this highlight a sample of the style you want to clone, click on the paintbrush icon:

The button will "indent" indicating that it is selected. Then highlight the text to which you want to apply the style. When you release the mouse button, the style of the originally highlighted text will be applied.

Making half-lines

Sometimes that last job description on the page runs over by a line or two. I recommend using plenty of white space in resumes. This normally means that I put a full blank line between one section and the next. You can reclaim some extra lines if you need them by adding in a half blank line. To do this, eliminate the full blank line, and place the cursor on the line after which you want to place the half blank line.

Then select Format -> Paragraph. This action brings up the following dialogue box.

Click in the "After" box and set it to 6 pt. You can either type in a number or use the up and down arrows. I do not recommend setting the space to less than 6 points.

An alternative method of half spacing is to place a full line return between the sections and adjust it. First of all, you have to be able to see the line return.

To do this find the following symbol, on the toolbar and click it on. This will allow you to see tabs, line returns and other symbols that are in the document, but not printed.

Highlight the line return and set it's size using the font size drop down window as described above.

Changing headings footers

I recommend having your name on each page of your resume. Your name is obviously on the first page of the resume. To get it on subsequent pages, in an unobtrusive place, I suggest you put it in the footer.

To do this go to page 2 of your resume (assuming you have more than one page), and select View ® Header and footer. This action brings up the following dialogue box.

Select "Switch Between Header and Footer" When you do this, your normal text will be grayed out.

The footer paragraph has a default style:

  • Text typed in is flush against the left margin.
  • First tab positions the cursor in the center and text typed there is centered
  • Second tab right justifies the tab.

    Put in two tabs and type <your name> and "Page" <space>

Then click on the "#" icon. This action will put the page number in the footer.

Highlight the whole thing and reduce the point size to 8.

The problem you have now is that the footer also appears on the first page as well.

To clear this select page setup from the footer menu

Then select different first page.


Use tables

Tables can help you organize things on the page. They are a lot more dependable and versatile than trying to use tabs. Tables allow you to make mutli-columned bulleted lists, or allow you to left justify a job description and right justify dates on the same line.

You will have to learn how to turn off borders to make this trick work. Suppose you want to list your technical skills. First put them in a table like so:

Then highlight the table and click on the following icon

Your table should now look like:

Don't worry about the light lines. They will not print on a printer. It will come out looking like: