Formatting your resume can be tricky. It should be informative yet concise, as well as easy for both humans and applicant tracking system (ATS) scanners to read. You’ll need to consider each detail carefully — from bullet points to alignment to resume margins.
As far as margins go, how big is too big? How small is too small? Is there a “right” resume margin size? At Teal, we’ve got the answers. Every resume is different, but we’ll help you pinpoint the right margin size for your resume, set resume margins on your word processor and more.
Aim for a one-inch margin on all sides of your resume. If your bullet points are longer or you need more space, you can make the side, top, and bottom margins 0.5 inches. Any smaller than that, you risk your resume appearing crowded, messy, and hard to read. Any larger than that, you risk appearing like you don’t have a lot to say or offer — which we know is not true!
The half-inch to one-inch guideline will also ensure your resume stays ATS-friendly. Unconventional resume margin formatting may cause your resume to get rejected by an applicant tracking system. Don’t let your resume margin size prevent you from getting the opportunities you deserve.
To make managing each tailored copy of your resume easier, you may want to consider using a resume builder. Teal’s resume builder helps you create and organize ATS-friendly resumes for every job you’re applying to, so you won’t need to sweat the small stuff.
How you set resume margins varies depending on the tool you use. Below are steps to adjust margins in Word, Google Docs, and Pages.
To adjust your margins on Microsoft Word, navigate to the Layout tab on your document. You’ll see a popup appear with different settings, including Normal, Narrow, Moderate, and Wide. Normal is the default setting, which is one-inch margins on each side.
Click on “Custom Margins” at the bottom of the popup to set your own measurements. Then, click “OK.”
If you want to change your new measurements to be the default setting, click on “Set as default.” That way, you won’t need to manually change the margins each time you create a new resume document.
If you’re writing your resume on Google Docs, set the resume margins by going to File > Page Setup. A popup will appear and you’ll see the current margin measurements for your document.
The default setting is one inch for each margin, but if you need to make the margins smaller, type in your desired measurements in the appropriate box. Then, click “Ok.”
Just like on Microsoft Word, you also have the option to create a new default margin setting by clicking “Set as default.”
If you’re using Pages on a Mac desktop or laptop, click on the page icon in the toolbar, and click on the Document tab. Under the Document Margins, click on the arrows to adjust each margin size, or type in each measurement in the corresponding box. Click “Done” once you’re finished.
For Pages on an iPad, tap the three dots at the top of the screen, then tap the Document tab. Navigate to “More Options,” and drag the double arrows to view the margin measurements. Edit the measurements how you see fit, and then tap “Done.”
Your resume should be left-aligned. Left-alignment is standard for official and professional documents, like resumes. That means your titles and bullet points should all be left justified. This will make your resume easier to read.
There is a more mixed consensus as to whether or not you should center any text, but we recommend erring on the side of left-justifying everything. Centering your text may make your resume seem more cluttered.
Avoid double-spacing your resume. Too much space between each line will make your resume appear too empty. Aim for single spacing or 1.5-point spacing if necessary. Remember, readability is key.
You should, however, add a space between each section of your resume for clarity — if space allows.
Fun fonts may seem like a great way to showcase your personality. However, your resume isn’t the best place to use Wingdings. Try to select a plain, easy-to-read default font. The best resume fonts are:
We don’t recommend using a custom or purchased font, because not all computers and applicant tracking systems may be programmed to read it correctly.
Resume formatting can seem tedious, but it’s important to pay attention to. Overlooking small details like margin sizes, fonts and spacing may cause you to miss out on valuable interviews and job opportunities.
Luckily, the default margin setting on most word processors is totally fine to use on your resume, but if you need to tweak it, we only suggest going slightly smaller. Teal's resume builder handles all of this for you.