Properly Setting Margins on a Resume

Whether you are looking for your first job or are looking to change careers, your resume is extremely important, and making it look as professional as you can either make or break your chances to impress a prospective employer and get the job you want.

A hiring manager looks at all sorts of resumes and they don’t have time to read every single one, so usually they will skim and look for keywords or have a list of things they are looking for to help narrow things down before going back and looking more in-depth at your resume. So, the goal is to not only get as much information into your resume as efficiently as possible but to get that information in the right places so it gets noticed.

The Importance of Format

The most important thing to remember when creating a resume design is the format. The formatting you use can make or break your chances of getting an interview. No one wants to read a resume that is cluttered, informal, or has multiple different resume format styles. A professional resume has one format throughout the entire document. This means that your margins for resume are uniform, and the design/style is cohesive. Having a great resume layout, following standard resume margin guidelines and having good line spacing, as well as having a concise yet informative resume length will impress your potential employer and make you stand out from any other job seeker in the pile.

A standard sans serif font (like Times New Roman, Arial, or Georgia), spacing, standard margins, and resume font size should all be uniform through the resume format. This helps everything look professional and the proper use of bold, italics, or headers can make sure the right things get noticed and stand out from blank white space.

How To Set Margins

Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other document writing programs all have a way to set your margins. You can also search for a resume template online (often for free), and these should have a margin size already set for you. A standard 1-inch margin size is common and perfectly acceptable. Avoid smaller margins or extremely wide margins as this will look strange in your resume layout and can give the appearance of being sloppy or unprofessional.

To start, your resume should have a title section, which should be your name and contact information. Most often you will find this section centered at the top of the page with your name large and clearly written. The occasional creative resume template may also have a “monogram” of your last name initial, which will be centered above the rest of your contact information. If you do, it should not be overly large and it should not take up more than an inch or inch and a half at most. After your title section should be a clear break, usually a line across the page or small white space to signal the rest of the information.

Your next section should be your summary or objective. This should be 1-2 sentences about why you are qualified for the position you are applying for. This doesn’t need to be a well-worded way of saying “I want XYZ job.” They know that that’s why you are applying for it. This is where you tell them why you should get it versus someone else.

This section should be centered and can have a heading to the left-hand side of the page that is 1-2 font sizes larger and/or in bold. However, a header for this is not necessary.

The next several sections of your resume design should follow the same pattern of: section headings and each job title on the left margin side of the page, and the bulk of the information in a text box below or towards the right margin. Subheaders should be bold and dates italicized. For example:


xyz college – degree type

date graduated

Be sure to include relevant experience, skills, education, and previous work history. Other sections you can include would be hobbies, volunteer work, and anything else that may appeal to this particular position. It is not necessary to line-break these sections, as that could look very clunky and congested. A simple double line break between sections with a header should suffice.

The final section of your resume design should be your references. This should have either a line break or page break so it is distinctly separated from the rest of the information. The formatting for references should be the name in bold, and on the next line should be the phone number and the following line the email. These should be clearly readable. 3-5 references are common practice, and any more than 5 looks like overkill.




Overall, keep in mind that your resume should be between 1-2 pages, your text should be uniform, and the margins for your resume should be the same throughout the entire document. With so many resources out there, don’t be overwhelmed! Do some digging and you will find the answers you are looking for.

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