Resumé Dos and Don’ts

Your resumé is a work of typography. The main purpose of a resumé is to convey information about your experience and expertise to a range of viewers. While lead artists or designers may view your resumé, it is just as likely a human resources administrator will be scanning your resumé for key words that fit the job description.

On a spectrum from original work of art to Microsoft Word template, your resumé should land somewhere in the middle as a smart work of typographic layout design. Instead, artists and designers often produce resumés that fall a bit too close to one of these two extremes.

To help you produce a legible typographic document, I’ve devised the following short list of dos and don’ts:


  • Include your name, address, contact information, a URL for your portfolio, and sections for your education, awards, experience, skills, and interests (in that order)
  • Use typography in lieu of dashes or bullet points
  • Use the full side of one page for all of your content
  • Use two type faces to create contrast and hierarchy
  • Use variations within the font family to create contrast and hierarchy
  • Create a continued reading experience throughout the page, starting with the first heading (often your name).
  • Decide if the layout is symmetric or asymmetric. For instance, you might produce a symmetric design over a centered vertical guide if you are center-justifying your name at the top of the page and continue working with this format throughout the document. Or, you might produce a two-column layout with left-aligned headings.
  • Consider a treatment for the bottom of the page
  • Use line rules sparingly


  • Allow your content to fill more than one page
  • Use more than two to three type faces
  • Allow Microsoft Word to determine the leading and kerning automatically
  • Add graphics because you think they look cool or interesting – they usually don’t. If your resumé is not interesting, you haven’t done your job with the typographic treatment.
  • Use a template without modifying it
  • Prepare a resumé only in HTML. You should be prepared to send a file for printing in a format such as PDF.
  • Print the document you plan to send or submit on plain printing paper
  • Send a native format, such as a .docx, .ai, or .indd  file for electronic viewing (always send a PDF)

Read more about resumé dos and don’ts on The Ad Class website.


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