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Paragraph Style

by ResumeEdge.com - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service


Good advertisements are designed in such a way that the reader's eye is immediately drawn to important pieces of information using type and graphic elements, including bold, italics, and headline fonts, and so forth. Then the design must guide the reader's eye down the page from one piece of information to the next with the use of white space or graphic designs between short paragraphs.

In this science of typography, very long lines of text (longer than six or seven inches, depending on the font) and large blocks of text (more than seven typeset lines) are considered to be tiring to the reader's eye. If you look closely at textbooks, magazines, and newspapers, you will notice that the information is usually typeset in columns to reduce line lengths, and journalists intentionally write in short paragraphs because they are more reader friendly.

How does this science translate into the design of a resume? As a general rule, you should keep your lines of text no longer than seven inches--five to six inches is even better--and your paragraphs shorter than seven lines of text each. Many people find it difficult to cram the description of a job and its accomplishments into a single paragraph while following this rule. Therefore, you will often see bulleted sentences used instead of paragraphs on resumes.

If you prefer the paragraph style, there are some tricks of the trade that can help you make your resume more readable:

1. Divide your experience into related information and use several shorter paragraphs under each job description (Sample 1).
2. List the job summary in paragraph form and then use bullets to highlight your achievements (Sample 1).
3. Use left headings instead of centered headings (Sample 1) or put dates in a left column (Sample 1) to make the line lengths shorter. This won't work, however, when the shorter line length forces your information into very long paragraphs. It is better to have longer line lengths and shorter paragraphs.

Full justification--where all the lines end at the same place on the right margin--makes paragraph-style resumes look more formal. Ragged right margins generally give a more informal appearance. Full justification creates a neater appearance any time the lines of text run all of the way to the right margin, even in bulleted resumes. However, you can choose either style and not go wrong. Again, it is just a matter of your personal preference.

From Designing the Perfect Resume, by Pat Criscito.
Copyright 2000.  Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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