How To Set Margins for a Resume (With Formatting Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important to have a well-written resume for your application process. Using an appropriate margin size can help your resume look more professional and increase your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers. If you're in the process of applying for jobs, learning about the appropriate ways to use margins on your resume can help make your resume more effective. In this article, we discuss the standard size of margins for a resume, explore the importance of using appropriate margins, highlight how to make proper margins for your resume, and provide additional formatting tips to help you design your own.

What is the standard size of margins for a resume?

The standard size of margins for a resume is an inch at the top, bottom, and on both sides of the page. A one-inch standard margin is the best to make your resume appear readable, neat, and well-organized. Using the standard margin size also makes your resume appear more professional. If you need extra space to write more, you can use a minimum of half an inch for your margins. Ensure that the opposing sides of your margins are uniform to give your resume a balanced and organized look.

A margin size of 0.5 inches is enough to give your resume an effective frame. Candidates with less content can use a margin size of one inch to help make their resumes appear fuller. Going below 0.5 inches can make your resume appear crowded and more challenging for the hiring manager to read. In contrast, a margin of over one inch can make your resume appear empty, giving the impression that you have little to write. Using a standard margin size helps the hiring manager focus on your content rather than the unusual formatting.

Related: How To Write a Resume

Importance of using appropriate margins for your resume

Here are some reasons it's important to use an appropriate margin size:

It makes your resume more legible

Using the standard margin size helps your resume appear well-spaced and organized. This makes it much easier for the hiring manager to read and note relevant details. You can reduce your margin size to accommodate more content, but remember that what makes a good resume is relevant content, rather than the quantity of it. Keeping your resume within one page by only including the most relevant information is the best approach. If you want to include more information, but have limited space, it's better to extend your resume to two pages than create a crowded one-page resume.

If you decide to extend your resume beyond a page, ensure it's only with content that applies to the position. You can also consider using more descriptive words or action words that can help make describing your work experience and achievements with less space easier.

It makes your resume easier to understand

Your hiring manager is likely reviewing several applications to find the right applicant for a role. As they spend limited time on your resume, format it in a way that's easy to understand. This is so the hiring manager can quickly locate the details that make you a unique candidate. It's best to use a standard resume with a standard margin size unless the hiring manager requests otherwise. While creative candidates may want to show their skills through their resume style, it's more likely your special formatting distracts the hiring manager unless you're a graphic designer.

It helps your resume pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Many companies use ATS when recruiting, especially large corporations that receive many applications. ATS software helps businesses select qualified candidates by using keywords to screen candidates. The hiring manager includes a list of relevant keywords in the system and assigns them an individual weight.

Based on that information, the ATS can score candidates and automatically disqualify those who cannot meet a minimum threshold. Using the right margin size can increase the chances of your resume qualifying by the ATS. As it's impossible to know the exact criteria the ATS is using, it's best to use best practices to increase your chances of qualifying.

It improves your professional image

Using the appropriate margin size gives your resume a polished and professional look. A professional-looking resume helps your hiring manager know that you're meticulous, organized, and able to follow instructions. While the hiring manager reviews several resumes, a well-formatted one with great content can help make you more memorable. Gaining your hiring manager's respect at this level can translate to a better working relationship with them. In addition, this can improve your transition into a new job.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job

Setting proper margins for your resume on different platforms

Here is an outline of how to set margins for your resume on a variety of popular word processing software:

Setting proper margins using Microsoft Office Word

The default setting in a Word document is the standard one-inch margin size. You can open a new document and start creating your resume. In situations where you need to set the margin size yourself, follow these three instructions:

  1. Look for the "Layout" option on your toolbar. The toolbar is the space above your Word document that contains icons to complete actions like opening and saving files.

  2. After clicking "Layout," look for the margins option and select it. You can click on "Normal" to select the default one-inch margins.

  3. If you want to be more specific about your margin measurements, you can select custom margins and enter the values you want. If the measurement value is in centimetres, you can change it to inches by going to the "File" option and selecting "Options." Next, go to "Advanced" and look for "Show measurements in units of" under the "Display" tab. Click the drop-down button and select inches.

Setting proper margins using Google Docs

This increasingly popular word processing web application also has a default margin-size setting of one inch. To change the size manually, use the following six steps:

  1. Find the file option on your toolbar.

  2. Look for the "Page setup" option and select "Margins."

  3. Enter the values you want in the relevant boxes.

  4. You can select "OK" to save for that particular document, or use the "Set as the default" option to maintain those settings for future documents.

  5. To set the margin size for specific paragraphs, you can use the ruler directly underneath the toolbar and above your text space. Adjust the ruler by sliding the blue icon that looks like an inverted triangle to your preferred measurement.

  6. To have the value of your margin size show in inches, set the language for your Google Documents to English (United States), as there is no Canadian option. Setting it to English (United Kingdom) displays the margin in centimetres.

Related: Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)

Setting proper margins on OpenOffice Writer

OpenOffice Writer is also known as LibreOffice Writer. Follow these four steps to set your margin size on this software:

  1. Look for the format option from your toolbar.

  2. From the dropdown menu, select "Pages."

  3. Look for the margins option, and enter the value you want in all the size boxes.

  4. Select "OK."

Setting proper margins on iWork Pages

This word processing software is for those using Apple products. To set your margin size on iWork pages, do the following:

  1. Look for the "Document" option, usually located on the screen's right side.

  2. Ensure you select the document tab, though, by default, it's always on select.

  3. Look for the document margin tab, and set your desired value in the boxes for the right, left, top, and bottom margins.

Additional formatting tips to use with margins for your resume

While margins are essential, it's best to use them with other formatting tips for the best results. Here are some tips for a more attractive resume:

Use a readable font style

For your resume, select a professional font to help it appear like a formal document. Font styles comprise serif fonts, like Times New Roman, with small lines at the tip of the letters and sans serif fonts, like Arial, without lines at the tip of the letters. Serif fonts usually read better in print, while sans serif fonts are better for screens.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Functional Resumes

Use a legible font size

The appropriate font size for your resume depends on the font style. Some font styles appear larger and can accommodate smaller font sizes. The general rule is to stay between a font size of 10 and 12. Ensure the hiring manager can read your resume at a reasonable distance without squinting or straining the eyes.

Use left-alignment on your main text

The most formal approach is to align the main text in your resume to the left. Left-alignment makes your text easier to read and makes your section headings more noticeable. You can align your contact information to the centre at the top of the page if you prefer.

Use bullet points

You can use bullet points to list aspects like work duties, skills, and achievements. Bullet points make your text more readable and are a great way to highlight any relevant information. Try to use a uniform type of bullet point in each section.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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