Formatting Tips to Help Your Resume Stand Out

April 12, 2009 at 10:51 am 1 comment

Presenting your cover letter and résumé in a totally professional format is vital to making the best first impression possible. When compiling your résumé there are a number of formatting points to remember to help achieve that professional finish:

Choose widely used, professional fonts but vary to the profession or organisation.

  • For the streamlined professional look you are safe with Book Antiqua in 10.5 pts and Georgia in 10 pts. Headings in slightly larger font size to balance.
  • For more hands on blue-collar worker roles choose Arial 10.5 pts or Times New Roman in 11.5 pts, or for a different look in the right situation choose Courier New in 12 pts and set your character spacing to 80%. Headings should be in slightly larger font sizes to balance.
  • Some government departments specify, and others prefer but don’t specify, Times New Roman 12. Headings in slightly larger font size to balance.
  • Whatever your preference, you can’t go wrong with:

Arial 10-11
Times New Roman 11-11.5
Georgia 10-11
Book Antiqua 10.5-11
Century Schoolbook 10.5-11

 Avoid tabbing across, rather set the right hand margin using the icon on the upper left corner of your page.

When putting in a page border I have found printers vary too much to simply use the MS page border function. Instead create a box the size you wish to use, remove fill to enable you to size correctly, choose the line thickness and look you want (single or double thin are usually best) cut and paste into the header/footer Show/Hide document text setting. Be sure it is sent to background to enable you to type into the header and the footer. If necessary, press enter to increase the size of the footer and position the bottom line of the box just sufficiently inside the footer to enable page numbering or… to be inserted clearly. There should then be no troubles whichever printer the documents are sent to.

Colour can enhance or destroy a résumé. The main thing is to be discrete, never gaudy, even in a creative format. I have successfully combined maroon headers and lines with either black or dark grey text, dark teal headers and lines with black text and, believe it or not, olive green (though it is called dark yellow on the MS palette) headers and lines with black text and even with dark teal text for a fresh, energised finish. The most important thing is to keep it subtle and tasteful. And if you are not too comfortable with colours, or you are not sure of your reception at the employers end, stick with plain black.

If you would like to view some sample resumes and sample cover letters to get a stronger idea of how your finished documents could look, visit my web site on this link and click on the sample resume and sample cover letter examples on the right hand side of the page.

 Here’s to writing powerful resumes.

Beverley Neil

PS – if you would like to learn how to write interview winning resumes for yourself or professionally for others, Click here to find out more. If you prefer to work with an award-winning resume writer to get fantastic results,  please email me at to start the confidence building process.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Josie Rizal  |  April 28, 2009 at 8:37 am

    These are helpful tips you got in here. I especially agree with the “Colour can either enhance or destroy a résumé ” you just stated. Although this might not mean that mcuh to some this actually can create impact to a resume so they should be watching out for this one as well.


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