How to Make Resume Margins the Right Size

Published on: 6 April 2021

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand more times – resume formatting matters!

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of just how much of a difference proper formatting and design can make.

Yes – something as small as proper resume margins can make or break your application.

But why do these tiny details matter? Surely, the content of your resume is more important than the space on the sides, right?

Well, yes. But you want to make this crucial content as presentable and easy-to-read as possible.

So, stick with me as I take you through:

  • What the ideal resume margins are (for digital and printed resumes alike);
  • How to set your resume margins in Google Docs or MS Word;
  • Some extra resume formatting tips, such as font size and alignment.

I’ll also share how we deal with margins in our resume builder, which is a fantastic way to simplify the resume creation process (so, make sure to check it out).

What are the correct margins for a resume?

Let’s start with the burning question – what is the proper resume margin size?

For most resumes, the recommended margin size is 1 inch on each side. This applies to both digital and printed documents.

There’s a bit of leeway, of course. If you need a little extra space, you can shrink the margins a bit. Just keep them at least half an inch or more. Different types of resumes might require different margins, so it doesn’t hurt to check out some examples if you’re unsure.

It’s only natural that you want to try and fit all the information on a single page, especially if you’ve been bombarded with the “one-page resume” rule. That’s not a bad thing, but there are still aspects to consider.

First off, if you find yourself having to shrink your resume margins a ton, take a step back and think about whether all of this information is necessary.

The key to a successful resume is relevancy. If you’ve added fluff or non-relevant information to try and make your application look more impressive, it will most likely backfire. Remember, hiring managers only spend a few seconds on each resume to decide whether it should go in the reject pile.

If you’re not sure what you need to include in a resume, take a look at our helpful guide on the matter.

So, now you know what the ideal resume margin size is.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper.

How critical are proper margins on a resume?

You might not think that resume margins are a big deal, but they are. They really are.

And here’s why.

You’re probably sick of hearing about resume formatting and how important it is. But a well-designed document can be a handy tool in your job hunt efforts.

Margins, in particular, are a key aspect because of readability. If there’s too little white space on the page, your resume can look cramped, busy, and overall difficult to read. Especially if you’ve added a ton of information.

The exact opposite is true for resumes with giant margins. Leave too much white space, and the page will look empty and, frankly, unimpressive. Like you don’t really have that much to say and, by extension, offer the company.

Another factor contributing to the importance of resume margins is consistency.

While it’s true that you should keep the spacing and formatting within your resume consistent, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here.

Recruiters look at many, many resumes. So, it’s inevitable that their mind will create, and therefore expect, specific patterns. They’re used to seeing standard formatting, including small details like margins.

You might be tempted to break those patterns to try and stand out, but this is more likely to throw the hiring manager off. People aren’t really that fond of surprises, and a recruiter might end up focusing more on your formatting than the content of your resume.

And finally, keep Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in mind. These systems are just as easily confused as humans are when things aren’t where they expect them to be.

So, just to be safe, you might want to stick to the standard resume margins.

How do we solve the resume margin issue at Enhancv?

For all of you out there who get overwhelmed by all things resume, we’ve created a super simple resume builder. And yes, it can take care of the margins, too!

You can effortlessly switch between 5 different margin lengths. The drag-and-drop function makes it easy to play around with white space, take out or add more content, and organize your resume, so it looks its best.

You don’t need to worry about text formatting, either – it’s aligned automatically, and the line height is pre-set to fit different margins.

You can choose from our selection of suitable fonts for a resume, too, and rest assured that the text will look great both digitally and in print.

With the Enhancv resume builder, all you need to focus on is your content – we’ll take care of the rest.

All you need to do to change the margin size in our editor is head over to “Design”. At the very top of the dropdown menu is the “Margins” slider. You can set the font, size, and color from the same tab, too. Just play around with it until you’re happy!

How to set proper resume margins in MS Word and Google Docs

If you’ve decided to build your resume in Word or Google Docs, you’ll have to set the resume margins manually.

Luckily, they are automatically set at 1 inch! So, if you’re happy with the standard resume margin size, you don’t really need to do anything.

Regardless, if you do need to tweak the margins, here’s how to do it easily:

MS Word

Changing the size of your resume margins in Word is easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Click on the “Layout” tab.
  2. Choose the very first option – “Margins”.
  3. You can choose one of the pre-set sizes from the dropdown menu (e.g., Normal for 1-inch margins).
  4. If you want to set your own size, select “Custom Margins” at the bottom of the dropdown menu and set the size.

Google Docs

The process is just as simple in Google Docs. Here’s how to change resume margin size:

  1. Click on the “File” tab.
  2. Select “Page Setup” from the dropdown menu.
  3. In the following window, choose the size of the margins. You can edit all margins separately.

And that’s all!

Should your cover letter margins match your resume margins?

Remember what I said about keeping things consistent?

That applies to your cover letter, too.

Ideally, you want your whole application to be consistent – both in design and formatting. So, if you’re wondering whether your resume margins should match your cover letter margins, the answer is yes.

Tips for printed resumes

As I mentioned at the start, the ideal resume margins for printed documents are still around 1 inch each. However, when it comes to printing, there are some extra things to pay attention to.

If the margins of the document are too small, you might have some trouble printing. The content at the edges will more than likely get cut. So, stick with the standard size to avoid this. Make sure you set the proper printing size, too.

Font size and type matter even more if you’ll be printing your resume, too. But we’ll talk more about that below.

And, if you really want to cover all your bases, take a look at this post on choosing the best printing paper for your resume.

What alignment, font size, and style rules to follow on your resume

So, now that I’ve covered what you need to know about proper resume margins. Before we wrap it up, here are some bonus resume formatting tips:

  • Font size – As a general guide, you should keep the font size between 10 and 12 pt. Normally, the smallest size for print is 6 pt, but your best bet is to avoid this rule when it comes to your resume. You want to keep the text legible, after all.
  • Font style – While you may be tempted to use a fancy, impressive-looking font, that’s not the best call for your resume. Again, readability is key, so a simple, recognisable font like Arial or Times New Roman is a good choice. If you want to go for something different, that’s fine, too. Just keep it simple.
  • Text formatting – When it comes to formatting, don’t go crazy and use it strategically. Think about text hierarchy – you can make your name, headers, and titles bold and a little larger, but keep the rest consistent.
  • Alignment – To keep your resume easy to read and to follow, align the text to the left. Also, add the more important details on the left side of the document – your education and work history, for example. Secondary information, like interests and skills, can be put on the right.

Takeaways: Resume Margins

So, there you have it! All you need to know about proper resume margins. Let’s recap what we’ve learned:

  • The standard resume margin size is 1 inch.
  • You can change the size or the margins if you need to, but shouldn’t make them smaller than half an inch.
  • If you leave too little white space, your resume will look busy and cluttered. If you leave too much, it will look empty and unfinished.
  • The margin size on your cover letter should match the one on your resume.
  • Proper resume margins make sure your application remains easy-to-read and doesn’t confuse the recruiters or the ATS.

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I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to share your own findings and experiences, don’t hesitate to comment down below!

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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