Explore the importance of grids. Learn about structure and resting space for the eye.
- [Instructor] As a creative, you know how important it is to use space well. Every resume needs to look organized and easy to navigate. You want to provide a comfortable reading experience, so the information should be edited as necessary to fit. It must be legible, with generous margins and enough space for the eye to rest. A resume is actually one of the hardest things to design well, even for a skilled designer. It has a lot of information, all on a single page.
But if your resume's too crowded, it's hard for the reader to easily navigate and absorb the information. There's no single right way to design a resume. In fact, there are many ways to design a great resume as long as you keep these principles and objectives in mind. An overall sense of organization, good typographic hierarchy to separate levels of information, easy navigation, and good margins. Here are some real examples of resumes that use space well.
You may choose to use a grid with two even columns. Look at the margins. You should leave at least a half inch all around, and always leave a bit more at the bottom. Keep a good amount of space between your columns. Leave at least a couple of picas between them. You can choose to organize your information in a variety of ways, which may influence your choice of grid structure. Here's a different grid structure. Several examples of two unequal columns with the smaller column on the left.
The grid structure you use is up to you. Every resume is different because its content is different. The amount of space you'll need for your content also depends on the point sizes and weights of the styles you're using. Even though these are different, each of these looks organized, easy to navigate, and there's good separation between text areas. Levels of importance are indicated clearly by differentiating size, weight, case, and in some cases, color.
Here are some examples with the secondary column on the right. Again, each is different, but each follows the principles of organization, ease of navigation, and good typographic hierarchy. It's okay to leave some space. There's no need to fill the page with text. Room for the eye to rest is a good thing. You might want to try a single text block with headers to the left, like this. In this case, there's plenty of resting space for the eye and good separation between text blocks.
Because these lines are long, extra leading has been added to aid in reading. A one column format can work well, as long as the number of characters per line does not exceed about 70, including spaces and punctuation. That's a good rule of thumb. If the lines are longer, add leading. People ask me about resume templates. There are plenty of resume templates online, and you might want to use one as a starting point. But if you are a designer, you definitely don't want your resume to look like it was put together with a template.
Customize your resume so it reflects your design skills. Sometimes I see resumes with too much space, like this one, and the type is very small. I would increase the point size of the text and decrease the white space by at least half. Tiny type is inconsiderate. The hiring manager wants to read comfortably, and when there's all this extra space, the first thing I think of is, why make it so hard to read when there's loads of space to bump up the type size and still have plenty of white space.
Sometimes the only way to find enough space is to sit down and do a tighter edit of your copy. Here's an example of a before and after. I asked the art director to eliminate at least a third of the text in his resume on the left. There was quite a bit of redundancy in the job descriptions. What a difference. You can see how much more appealing, inviting, and readable the revised version is on the right hand side. The point size hasn't changed. There's just more leading and more space overall, including better margin space at the top and bottom.
His photo looks less squashed, too. It's sitting much more happily in its new space at the top right. To sum up, whichever format or grid you decide to use for your resume, don't try to crowd in a lot of information. Sometimes less is more. But don't leave huge empty spaces either. It minimizes your resume's important text. Separate items with a bit of space to create a clear and easy to navigate reading experience, and be generous with your margins.
Remember, space matters.
- Organizing and emphasizing your experience
- Curating your career story
- Being honest and authentic
- Optimizing resumes for different career stages
- Planning a career transition
- Choosing effective typefaces
- Using style, size, weight, and color
- Choosing the right words and text length