Periods or No Periods in a Resume Format?

Not everyone agrees on resume punctuation. One point — the period — is something people don't always see eye to eye on. So I decided to post my guidelines for how to use periods in a resume format. Here you go:

How to Use Periods in a Resume Format

As I say, not everyone agrees on how to use periods on a resume. Over the years, I've developed my own preferences, but sometimes I change if my resume client has a different-but-also-correct way of using the period.

1. A period is optional at the end of each phrase in a list as long as you are consistent throughout.

For example, when you write your Summary section at the top of your resume format, you might type a bullet point statement that's followed by a list like this:

Over the last ten years, developed expertise in:

  • Juggling multiple tasks at once.
  • Delegating tasks appropriately.
  • Providing detailed analyses promptly.

Notice, there are periods at the end of each of those phrases in the list. But that period is optional, which means the following is also correct:

Over the last ten years, developed expertise in:

  • Juggling multiple tasks at once
  • Delegating tasks appropriately
  • Providing detailed analyses promptly

Likewise, periods are optional after your achievement statements in the Experience section of your resume format. For example...
With a period:

    • Personally achieved 75% of team quota in the northern territory.

Without a period (also correct):

    • Personally achieved 75% of team quota in the northern territory

2. A period should appear after abbreviations.
For example, Sales Assoc. at Blackstone, Inc.

An exception to this period rule is with academic degrees and certificates. Periods are optional in their cases. For example, you could write M.B.A. or MBA — both are correct.

The Bottom Line on Periods in a Resume

Be consistent! If you decide to put periods at the end of the statements in your resume format, then be sure to put them at the end of all your resume statements. Likewise, if you choose not to use periods, then don't put them at the end of any of your statements.

Same is true for your college degrees. Either use periods for all your college degrees, or don't use them for any of your degrees. Be consistent throughout your resume.

Remember: periods, commas, and all punctuation should help your reader understand what you're trying to say. That's their real purpose. So when in doubt, consult a good book on grammar (such as The Gregg Reference Manual by William A. Sabin, Elements of Style by Strunk and White, or Manual for Writers by Kate Turabian). And don't forget your best tool: your good ole common sense. You can also check posts I've written on Resume Style and Grammar.