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Formatting tips

Format your CV to make it look more professional

People often spend just seconds on an initial scan of a CV so make sure your formatting works for and not against you.

  1. Don’t make a feature of your contact details
    It’s important to include contact details on a CV but they really shouldn’t take up the first 5 lines. Keep your name in large font, but try putting your contact details into a smaller font and listing them across the page or position them to the right of your name. There's no need to include mini headings e.g. Mobile: Email: Address: as the reader will be able to recognise these pieces of information easily.
  2. Make important things stand out
    Your name and your section headings should stand out. Use highlighting effects like bold and bigger font sizes to give them a strong contrast to other pieces of information.

    Use these highlighting effects sparingly for other details. It can work well to use bold to highlight particular skills, experience or your degree title, but with these effects - less is more. Try to avoid using more than one highlighting effect on any piece of information. Bold, italic and underline together is overkill.

  3. Use the width of the page
    Tables are a useful way to format information across the page, rather than just listing things down the page. For example, you don’t need a separate line to write date, employer and job title, or date, degree title and University. You could use a table to place them all in columns in the same row across the page. Again, there is no need for mini headings of Date: University: as the reader will be able to recognise these pieces of information easily.
    Tables are easier to manage than tabs or spaces but gridlines on a CV are distracting, so make sure that you hide them.

  4. Alter your line spacing
    The Paragraph tab in Word will allow you to customise the spacing for each piece of text. Word sometimes automatically sets a line spacing of 1.5 and an After setting of 10. This much white space isn’t necessary for a CV. 

    Text reads more clearly if the line spacing is slightly larger than the font e.g. font size 11, line spacing Exactly 14. 

    A full line of white space after a heading is usually more white space than necessary. Use the Before and After spacing to make your headings stand out. Even a small space of 3 Before and After a heading can make a difference. 
  5. Keep it consistent
    Using different styles of font and inconsistent styles can be distracting. Headings should stand out from normal text but all headings should have a consistent style as should all normal text. There are a couple of exceptions e.g. you could make name bigger and your contact details smaller.