Alignment & Spacing Tips for Formatting Your Resume in MS Word

Use MS Word’s tools to your advantage

Have you ever spent hours getting the alignment and spacing just right on your resume, only for it to become mangled after you post it to an online job board? On the surface your Word document may look just right, however you most likely did not employ the best techniques to preserve your formatting when your resume is uploaded, attached, copied/pasted, or translated by another program.

The key to identifying what is hidden beneath the surface of your document is to use the Show/Hide button (Ctrl+*) that looks like a backwards “P” on your Home toolbar.

For example, take a look at this portion of a resume with the Show button off:

Everything appears to be aligned nicely, however, turn the Show button on and you see all the extra spaces and unnecessary tabs utilized, which tend not to translate well (meaning your content shifts around the page) and can be very frustrating when trying to make quick adjustments:

The dots represent every time the space bar is hit, the arrows represent every time the tab button is hit, and the backwards Ps represent every time enter is hit.

Here are the basic guidelines to follow to eliminate all the “extras” and create a clean document:

  • Set up Left, Right, Center and/or Decimal tab stops to align your content exactly where you want it. The tab stop menu is located in the top left corner of your Word document, slightly to the left of the ruler. Click the square until you see the tab stop you want, then click the ruler where you want the tab stop to be.
  • Use the bullet feature for consistent (and easy to adjust) spacing within lists.
  • Use the Line and Paragraph Spacing tool to insert and control the size of spaces in between sections, bullets, and paragraphs. This tool comes in handy when you are adjusting a series of spaces at a time.

Here is how that same portion now looks when the guidelines above are implemented:

By using MS Word’s spacing and alignment tools, your resume has a much better chance of holding true to its format.


3 thoughts on “Alignment & Spacing Tips for Formatting Your Resume in MS Word

  1. Why wouldnt you include better descriptions and/or screen shots (like you used to show the bad formatting) to show where these “tools/buttons” are in word???

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