Too Much? Too Little? Here are Our Best Resume Line Spacing Tips
Your resume’s design is more important than you think – it’s the first thing a recruiter will notice. After you fill your resume with your biggest accomplishments and powerful language, it needs to look polished enough to make a good impression.
First and foremost, recruiters want your resume to be as easy to read as possible, and a resume’s line spacing can make or break its readability. You don’t want your sections so cramped together that recruiters will struggle to separate them. At the same time, however, overusing line space can break the flow of your resume and take away from crucial resume real estate. (Remember, you only have about 1-2 pages to work with.)
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Check out how the same resume sections look with too little line spacing…
…and then too much line spacing:
To land an interview, you don’t want your resume to look like either of those, so listen up. Here are some simple guidelines to set the right amount of resume line spacing:
Why Should I Care About Resume Line Spacing?
Still not convinced? Even if you have trouble recognizing the difference proper line spacing makes, it’s worth weighing the impact it has on your overall resume design. The proper amount of line spacing not only makes your resume easier for a recruiter to read, but also places the right emphasis on each section of your resume and helps communicate your personal brand.
Proper resume line spacing allows the document to be read as a cohesive whole, while also separating each section appropriately. Recruiters reading through will be able to focus on each section, easily skim the document, and recognize what you have to contribute to the job posting (i.e., why they should hire you above everyone else!)
So, knowing the difference resume line spacing makes, how can you determine the right amount for your resume? Check out these guidelines for setting the right line spacing for your resume:
Set Your Overall Spacing
To start off on the right foot, set line spacing for your whole document to either 1 or 1.15. You can do this on the top toolbar of Microsoft Word:
A line spacing of 1 (or single line spacing) means that your lines are separated at the same height as the closest line of text, so, if you’re primarily using a 12 point font, your line spacing will be 12 points as well. (You’re likely familiar with double line spacing, which is commonly used in academic writing to allow for comments between lines.)
1.15 just gives you a little more space, but which of the two you prefer is ultimately a matter of personal aesthetic preference.
Setting your line will ensure that each line of text is easily readable from the next. If you use anything higher than 1.15 on this option, you’re wasting space. You need to fit all the experience that’s relevant to the job you’re applying to in your resume, so double spacing just isn’t prudent in resume writing.
Using a line spacing less than 1, however, will cause your text to cramp together in a way that makes it difficult to read and retain the information. This blog was written with Google Docs, which mercifully doesn’t allow for less than single line spacing. However, my computer also includes Pages (which you shouldn’t write your resume in!), which for some reason allows for 0 point line spacing, allowing this travesty of text:
Don’t make your resume harder to read than it has to be or waste space in what needs to be a concise document. Starting out with 1-1.15 is best for you and your recruiters.
Line Spacing Between Sections
After setting your overall line spacing, you want to make sure you have enough white space between sections. To do this, we need to go beyond that little line spacing button to some advanced territory.
Go to the top toolbar and find the “Layout” tab. Here’s where it is on the newest version of Microsoft Word:
This is a gamechanger for writing your resume. Here, you can adjust the amount of white space before or after each paragraph or header in your document. You don’t have to rely on hitting the enter key for big line breaks for your resume line spacing anymore!
We recommend having 6-12 pt spacing after each major section (Summary, Professional Experience, Education, etc.) For smaller gaps in between your professional experiences, go with 3-6 pt after each job.
Because jobs are all within one section, you don’t need as much space to set them apart. These parameters clearly indicate where one section ends and another begins without creating so much white space that you don’t have room to flaunt your job skills.
Finally, if you’re using both paragraphs and bullets to divide your responsibilities and accomplishments (if you have a big resume, you should!), adding a 2-3 pt line space between the paragraph and the bullet points can enhance readability and allow your career accomplishments to shine.
If you ever find yourself in need of just a little less room to get your resume onto one less page, use this handy-dandy Layout tab to make tiny adjustments. Yes, some resumes can and should be two pages, but if you can’t fill up at least half of the second page, cut it down to one. No one likes an unnecessary spillover page – it just looks sloppy!
Just make sure that your spacing between sections remains consistent—you don’t want some jobs to have 6 points between them while some have 3 points between them. This will ensure a nice, even layout that doesn’t distract the reader’s eye. Notice how jarring it can be when line spacing between sections changes suddenly.
For instance, this blog is written with the same line spacing throughout, but switching over to a much higher line spacing without warning for this paragraph makes it harder to read and less pleasing to look at. Take the time to make sure you’re using the same spacing for section types, and your resume will be way prettier than these two paragraphs.
If you want to place greater emphasis on one job over another, you can do this by including more bullet points for the more relevant position rather than adjusting your line spacing. That way, you’re including more key information while sticking to easy-to-read spacing.
At the End of the Day
While resume line spacing is important, it’s also good to remember that it’s ultimately just one aspect of resume design. The look and layout of your resume are how you make an initial impression to recruiters, so be sure to put effort into thinking about when to use bolded text or not, choosing an appropriate font and font size, setting your margins, any extra sections you may want to include, and other design elements.
These decisions may seem small individually, but clean design choices put together show recruiters your personal style while making your resume easy for them to read and your key qualifications easy to find – which, at the end of the day, is all they really want. All these little choices can add up to you landing an interview for your dream job, so make sure your design research doesn’t end with resume line spacing!
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