‘Tis the Season for Resumes: How To’s of Typography

Have you ever had no idea how to make your resume look good? Being in that place of “I don’t know” is never fun. Here are a few handy tips to help you spice up your resume and make it snazzy for the new boss.

A Short Lesson on Hierarchy

Type hierarchy consists of sizefont, alignment, orientation, and ALL CAPS (WARNING: using all caps will make the eyes want to pop out and never return to the head … PLEASE don’t overuse all caps. Your eyes will thank you.). These are just a few of the ways to create a hierarchy in your resume.

There are so many more ways to set the type than the normal horizontal left to right.

Okay, that’s great to know more about hierarchy, so what do I do with it? How does this relate to me finishing my resume? Hierarchy is important to make the resume readable and to make it look better overall. Having a resume that has a well-thought-out hierarchy can either impress your future boss’s and bad hierarchy can make your future boss’s throw away your resume.

That is a TON of terminology THROWN at you.
See how putting the word ton in all caps and bold makes it stand out. Italicizing the word ‘thrown’ gives it a sense of being in motion. Playing with text is a very good skill to learn in order to help your text show what you want it to.

You now know a bit more about typography than you did when you started reading this editorial. Now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road.

Making the text BIGGER is not always better.
By making text bigger, it puts that piece of text higher up on the chain of importance, but only to a point does it look professional. For instance, if the “Work Experience” section is size 12 font and then it is size 35 font, that is much too large of a point size for the text to be in. A good use for sizing text is to have text such as headers (Work Experience, Volunteering, etc.) all be about 3-5 point sizes larger than the “body text” (the actual work experience and the other stuff under the headers).

Bold and Italics:

When used effectively these are powerful tools, but they can also be used horribly wrong. A way to avoid using bold and italics incorrectly: look away for a bit and then look at it again. Usually, people will be able to see if something looks off in the way bold or italics has been used. Friendly advice, italics are not meant to be used on a long or medium passage of text. It should only be used on short (very short) phrases or a word, the same goes for the usage of bolded text.


According to Lexico.com, the definition of alignment is the “arrangement [of text] in a straight line or in correct relative positions.” Meaning that one side of the text creates a straight line. This handy tool can either make reading your resume very easy, breezy or a pain in the butt to read. Keep in mind that left align is a good friend of yours when choosing what alignment to put your text in. This is mainly due to the fact that English is read left to right and this alignment is most commonly used for languages that are read left to right. Right align is where all of the text lines up on the right side. Alignment on the right side is less commonly used because it makes the text harder to read from left to right. Even so, this can be helpful for 3 or fewer lines in headers only. The infamous alignment used in poetry is called center-align. If you choose to use this for your resume, I can tell you now, that whoever looks at your resume may very likely throw it away immediately, because when more than 3 lines of text are center-aligned it is incredibly hard to read. Please, do yourself a favor and don’t use this alignment in your resume for more than 2 lines. If you absolutely must have 3 lines center-aligned, it’s okay but is not encouraged from a design standpoint.

“arrangement [of text] in a straight line or in correct relative positions.”


ALL CAPS!!!! SHOULD NEVER BE USED FOR MORE THAN A 1-3 WORDS. Remember the warning I gave earlier? The reason for using all caps for 1-3 words is that they can make the content much harder to read when used for long lines or passages of text. All caps, when not used well, can give make the eyes strain. Legibility is key for having a good looking resume. The easier the content is to read the more likely it will be for your future employer to read through all of your resumes.

I’ve given you lots of things to watch out for, but not actual concrete pointers. Generally using 12 point font size for the text body is a good rule of thumb. Try to avoid going smaller than 10 points for the font, which gets pretty small. Section headers can be bold, all caps or both, but please use your discretion. A good point size for these headers is about 15 points size font, give or take a few point sizes. For the title of your resume, it can be bold and/or All caps, again use your discretion. A good point size for the font is about 18 to 20 points. As for subheaders, this does not include your contact information, these can be smaller than the header; it is after all called a SUBheader. It can be in italics and to differentiate the subhead from the other text by using 13 point size.

Now with the tools in your belt to build your resume hierarchy snazzy and professional, you got it! Now you have these tools. Have a blessed finals week and winter break!


Post Author: Loknath Das

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