How Big Should You Set the Margins on a Resume Template?

Such a simple thing as big margins on a resume template can make your resume faster, cleaner, and smarter.

Employers like big margins on a resume because...
1. It's faster to read a resume that has shorter line lengths. The bigger the margins on your resume template, the shorter the length of the lines of text.
2. Your resume format is cleaner and easier to navigate when it has big margins (aka, indents) for your bullet point statements.
3. It makes you look smarter! That big-margin resume format makes it a snap to see that you're good at presenting info.

Exactly How Big Should the Margins Be on a Resume Template?

You are using a resume template to create your resume, aren't you? I hope so. It's a lot easier than starting with a blank page, and it's a great way to be sure you look professional on paper.

When picking which resume template you'll use, be sure it's one that has a healthy dose of margins — at least .75 inch on the right and left. The top and bottom margins don't matter as much, but the side margins need at least .75 inch, 1 inch is even better. Why? A document with narrow margins makes the line lengths of the text too long to be read easily.

A job seeker sent me a two-page resume with .5 inch margins on the right and left, which made the lines of text 7.5 inches long. (Any line of text longer than 6.5 inches is too long, in my opinion.) The first thing I did was to put that resume down and do something else. I just didn't want to read it because it looked hard to get through. It took me a full day of picking it up and putting it back down before I finally read her resume. If it had bigger margins it would have looked quicker to read, and I would have read it (and replied to her) within an hour.

The eye can read short line-lengths faster than long spans of text. That's why newspapers use columns that are a few inches wide. I'm not saying we should use a column format for resumes, but I do think it's important to take a page from the newspaper format concept: The eye scans text faster when it's in short line-lengths.

The easiest way to achieve short line-lengths is to set your page margins at one inch on the right and left. Another is to indent your bullet point statements, which makes the information look organized, while making the line-lengths shorter.

Here's a thought: Do both! Set your margins nice and big, and indent your bullet and sub-bullet point statements.

By the way, this short-line-length concept also works for cover letters. Big margins, short paragraphs, and even the use of a few bullet point statements can make your cover letter look faster, cleaner, and smarter.