Resumes & Cover Letters

A Guide to Resume Margins

November 10, 2020

When creating your resume, it is important to present your information in an appealing and readable format. You can do this even if you don’t have expertise with design. Crafting a great resume begins with formatting, which involves elements like margin and font size.

In this article, we will discuss appropriate margin settings, how to set your margins and how you can apply other formatting options in a way that matches your choice of margin size.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Best margins for different types of resumes

The key to setting your margin size is balancing the amount of white space on the page. To ensure that the content of your resume looks evenly distributed and contains all necessary information, consider using a margin between half an inch and one inch. This gives enough empty space around the edge to frame your resume in a visually appealing way.

Formatting standard resumes

For a standard resume with minimal graphic elements and a basic layout, one-inch margins are appropriate. They set your text away from the edge of the page sufficiently enough for your information to stand out. One inch margins also help make your resume look organized and easy to read.

Formatting creative resumes

If your resume is more elaborate, with graphics, colors and other design elements, you can be more flexible with the margins. With other formatting features helping with your resume layout, you can reduce your margins to a half-inch if necessary.

Related: Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

How to set resume margins

How you set the margins on your resume depends on the software you are using. The following instructions show how to set margins for four popular word processors:

Microsoft Word

  1. Select Layout (or “Page Layout” in some versions of Word) on the Ribbon at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the “Margins” option.
  3. Select the “Normal” option. This is pre-set to 1-inch margins.

Google Docs

  1. Click on the “File” drop-down menu item on the top left of the screen.
  2. Select the “Page Setup…” option.
  3. In the window that opens, you will find margin settings on the right side. Enter “1” in each of the boxes for Top, Bottom, Left and Right.
  4. Click the “Set as Default” button if you always want to use these margins.
  5. Click OK.

LibreOffice Writer (also known as OpenOffice Writer)

  1. Select the “Format” drop-down menu item on the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the “Page…” option.
  3. Find the “Margins” section and enter “1” in each box for Left, Right, Top and Bottom.
  4. Click the “OK” button.

iWork Pages

  1. Select the “Document” button on the right side of the screen.
  2. Make sure the “Document” tab is selected (it should be by default).
  3. Set the Top, Bottom, Left and Right margins to “1” in the boxes shown under “Document Margins.”

Additional resume formatting tips

There are other formatting choices you can make that support keeping your margins between 0.5″ and 1″:

Font style

Your resume is a professional document, so the font you choose should also look professional. If you are not sure which font to select, consider whether you are printing your resume or sending it digitally. Printed text usually looks better with a serif font. Serif fonts have small lines at the ends of the letters. Good examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Courier and Garamond. Sans serif fonts do not have those lines and typically read better on a screen. Examples of sans serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica and Calibri.

Related: How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

Font size

The font size depends to some extent on the font style. A point size of 12 may be small for some styles but large for others. Experimenting with different size and styles can ensure you choose the most effective font for your purposes. As a guide, your font size should look about the same as the Times New Roman font set to 10, 11 or 12 point. If you find you are shrinking your font to make it fit the page, consider editing the text instead. It is usually more important that you make your resume readable and clear than trying to fit extensive information onto a single page.

Text alignment

The main text on your resume should be left-aligned, or left-justified. This is standard for most professional documents and makes your resume easy to read. Your resume heading, which normally consists of your name and contact information, can be center-aligned if you prefer. You may also choose a different alignment for section headings.

Paragraph and section spacing

Although there are no fixed rules for spacing, there are a few things to consider. Remember to include enough white space to make your resume look organized and easy to follow. You can also include graphical elements like lines, boxes and shading to indicate breaks between sections. Appropriate use of the graphics available in your word processor can help make your resume both easy and appealing to read. When you decide how much space to put between paragraphs, make sure you apply that same spacing throughout the document.

Resume length

Your resume should be one or two pages long. If you have a lot of work experience, only include the positions you have held over the last five years. Provide sufficient information to give the hiring manager an idea of your skills. You can likely go into more detail during the interview.

Bullet points

Use bullet points to draw attention to your skills and accomplishments. Bullet point lists are easier to scan than blocks of text, which is helpful for the hiring manager reviewing your resume. They also add variety and some white space to your resume’s structure.