Everything you need to know about resume margins answered


Usually when putting together a resume you are probably focusing on how you are going to list all your experience and skills. You probably aren’t thinking about the white space surrounding the text. But if you overlook resume margins, you could be making a grave mistake that could cost you. Joseph Chris of Driving Business Connections wrote of resume margins, “When formatting your resume, it is important to use standard resume margin guidelines, as this will make your resume properly laid out on the page/s and look professional. Basically, the shape of a resume pertains to its look’s overall impact on the reader, without him or her taking into account the significance or meaning of the content. It is the very first thing that would make an impression on the reviewer and to be processed by his or her brain before he or she reads the text, recognizes your name and appreciates the paper.”

In other words, resume margins are extremely important.

What you need to know about resume margins

In this article you will learn:

  • The correct size for resume margins
  • How to set page margins on your resume in Google Docs and Microsoft Word.
  • Why certain sizes work better than others
  • How to use margins to accentuate your text and align your resume

It’s not the most exciting––but it is very much important to be aware of standard resume margins. Margins are the borders on a page that are left blank with no text or information. Margins should be left at 1 inch on all sides of your resume. If there’s absolutely no way you can stick to that number because your resume has plenty of information, you can adjust the top margins. If you must reduce your margin do not go more than 1/2-inch.

The thing is the wrong margin size can throw off the aesthetic of your whole resume and since hiring managers take about 6 seconds to look at your resume, it better look pretty darn good. Wide margins provide too much white space and too narrow margins can make everything look quite cluttered and this looks messy and therefore will be thrown in the trash.

Sticking to these guidelines will make your resume look clean, rather than cluttered and overwhelming. This size is also ideal for printing; it ensures everything will be included on the page when printed. 

How to set the margin in Google Docs

  1. In Google Docs, click file on the top left, and then choose page setup.
  2. A box will appear on your screen and the option to change the margins are on the left side of this box.
  3. Make sure the margins are all set to 1 inch (or smaller, if needed––see below).
  4. Click ‘Ok’ to save these settings. 

How to set the margin in Microsoft Word

  1. Select margins in the toolbar
  2. Choose the margin size you want
  3. You can also click custom margins to define your own margins.

How to select the right text size for your resume margin

The best text size for a resume is between sizes 10.5 – 12, If you are running out of room then go with the size 12 but remember your resume should never go over two pages.  According to the 2020 Ladders Resume Guide, “the right length for a professional resume is two pages total if you have 10 or more years of experience.  College graduates, those with less than 10 years experience, and individual contributors looking to stay individual contributors should stick to one page only.  Those in the top 1% of earners making $500,000 or more, and executives with 25 years or more of experience can consider three pages if the situation warrants.”

Never ever go above a size 14 on your resume!

How to align your resume

Chris writes, “Aligning a resumes is a pretty straightforward process, as it is usually left-aligned and is how most people would read text. Typically, the left side of your resume should contain the most important information, such as your job title, previous employers, achievements and responsibilities. However, there are also additional details that are appropriate to be put on the right side of the page, such as the date and job location, creating a visually balanced resume. As for the contact details and your name, they are mostly center-aligned, though you can opt to follow special styles that place contact information on the left side.”

More resume tips

  1.  If all of your information isn’t fitting on the page with these set margins, carefully read the job description and use the keywords that fit with both your skillset as well as what the position is seeking. This will help cut and weave out unnecessary information from your resume. You can always mention and elaborate on these additional skills in your cover letter (yes, you should be submitting a cover letter). Also, you don’t need a blurb at the top of your resume about your career objective. 
  2. Some companies use a technology that scans and pulls out keywords from resumes in order to choose the candidates to move forward. In this instance, a more creative resume isn’t recommended, but instead a standard traditional resume. 
  3. It’s important to truly know the job you are applying for; what will your daily job duties include, why are you qualified for the position? You should know the job description and company like the back of your hand when applying! 

Your resume will only be looked at for a few seconds, and to get to the point, it must look legit and professional. 

Other Important Factors: 

  1. The font size on your resume should be between no less than 10 and no more than 14 points.
  2. The alignment of all of the text should be set to the left, rather than centered (this is standard and makes readability much easier).
  3. Make sure you choose a standard font as well: Times New Roman or Arial is recommended. 

For more information on how to write your resume check out the Ladders 2020 Resume Guide.