The Best Resume Dimensions, Margins, and Layouts for 2022
One of the most frustrating resume errors is the margin that’s too small. It’s often a result of an ambitious candidate keen to fit as much valuable information as possible into their resume. The result, however, is almost never what they were hoping for.
Rather than reading all that meticulously crafted text, most recruiters will take one look at this cluttered resume and put it to one side. Simply put, get your margins (or any other resume dimensions) wrong, and your resume will be hard to read. With hundreds of resumes on their desk, most recruiters will simply move on to the next one.
In contrast, a well-designed resume will encourage recruiters to spend longer on it, and potentially net you more invites to interviews. Fortunately, there are some time-tested rules to resume dimensions, margins and layouts. Let’s break them down.
Your resume should be designed to be printed out on the standard paper size where you live. Be careful if you’re applying for roles abroad: in most of North America, Letter (8½” x 11”) is the standard paper size. Meanwhile, in Europe, A4 (210mm x 297mm) is more common.
Don’t be tempted to send an A4-sized resume to a company in the US. You might submit it via email, but chances are they’ll print it off in the office. As a result, your carefully planned formatting will be ruined.
The standard resume margin is one inch. Although you might be able to get away with narrowing your margins by 1/16th or 1/8th of an inch without it being noticeable, it’s rarely a good idea. Only do it as a last resort.
In the US, most resumes will fit on one page, although there is a growing trend of submitting two-page resumes. If your resume doesn’t fit onto one page, pay close attention to the page breaks.
It’s worth creating a manual page break rather than relying on your word processor’s page breaks. You should also double-check to see if the page break falls differently across different file formats, e.g. DOCX (Microsoft Word) vs PDF.
When creating your resume, you want to maximize the amount of white space without cutting out valuable information. Resumes with lots of white space are more reader-friendly, and as a result, more attractive to recruiters and employers. Most of the points in this section are designed to help you achieve a reasonable amount of white space.
Although there are a few situations where multiple-column resumes can work well, they’re normally a bad idea. They’re not as machine-readable, and with more and more companies using applicant tracking systems, that can seriously disadvantage you.
Additionally, surveys using eye-tracking software have found that recruiters spend less time reviewing resumes with multiple columns. Not only is your resume less likely to make it through to the recruiter, but it’s also harder for you to impress them.
In short, avoid columns to increase your chance of a positive response from recruiters.
Generally speaking, your resume shouldn’t contain many paragraphs. You have limited space, meaning that bullet points and headers should dominate. However, you should still pay attention to paragraph spacing, since it will decide how much space there is between your headings and lists.
Don’t be tempted to reduce spacing in order to squeeze more information onto your resume. It will backfire as the reader-friendliness falls. As a general rule, the paragraph spacing should be at least twice the font size — i.e. the same paragraph spacing that we’re using in this blog post. Additionally, the space between sections, e.g. “Education” and “Career History” will often benefit from being increased.
Just like with paragraph spacing, line spacing is important for improving readability. For most font styles and sizes, a line spacing of 1.5 will be ideal.
Headers structure your resume, direct the recruiter’s attention and ensure your resume is easy to read. When we speak about headers, we often have a hierarchy of headers. In your word processor, these will typically be referred to as header 1, header 2 and so on. Header 1 is the biggest heading, with other headings designed to be nested beneath it.
You want your headers, especially your bigger ones, to jump off the page. The recruiter should be able to instantly find your education section, skill section and so on when they look at your resume. So make sure to use a large font size, e.g. 14–16 points. Don’t be tempted to use a smaller size and instead change the color of your headers: many recruiters will print out your resume in black and white or grayscale.
You can also use smaller, nested headers for specific job titles. This is particularly helpful when you have extensive professional experience.
The standard font size for regular text on resumes is 12 points. Although you might be able to adjust the font slightly if you have a particularly large or small font style, it’s not generally a good idea to deviate too much. If the font is too big, it wastes space and can look juvenile. Too small, and it becomes hard to read.
Your resume is not the right moment to experience with font styles (unless, of course, you’re applying for a design-based job). There’s a reason Times New Roman and Arial are the most common font styles: they’re easy to read. Stick with them for the best results.
Bullet points will create more white space on the page and allow you to write more concisely. They can be used anywhere except for your professional summary. Just make sure they are all identically formatted.
There’s lots to consider when building a resume: dimensions and margins, sections and headers, machine readability… And that’s without considering how to best frame your professional background, education and skill sets.
It’s important to get your resume right. A well-structured and professionally written resume will help you impress recruiters, get invited to interviews and potentially negotiate a higher starting salary.
Building your resume can be easier than you might think, however. All you need is a good template that you can customize to your personal situation.
Here at Rocket Resume, we have millions of resume templates that you can use as a starting point. Whether you’re a recent college graduate, workplace returner or an experienced professional, our templates will help you show off your skills and experiences.
Moreover, our resume builder will suggest the ideal structure and style based on your background. You’ll even get recruiter-approved suggestions for the best phrasing to use.
Each resume is machine-readable, comes with pre-set dimensions and margins, and can be built in just 10 minutes. Take the stress out of resume building and create yours now.