By NRWA Certification Committee Member
Does this sound familiar? It’s time to wrap up a resume writing project, but several lines of text are spilling onto a new page. To correct the content overflow, you change the line spacing and margins to move the information back to the previous page. There’s even an MS Word command that conveniently shrinks the information to fit on the page.
This strategy works when there’s already sufficient white space on the page. But go too far, and the results can be—well, not attractive and not reader-friendly.
What is white space?
White space is the blank areas of the page where no content or graphic elements exist. It’s the space between lines, paragraphs, bullets, sections, and margins where there’s nothing to consume but white space itself.
Why white space?
For a design element that is by definition “nothing,” it’s surprising that white space is one of the most important aspects of a resume’s design. It can:
- Improve readability
- Increase reading comprehension
- Guide the reader to focus on key points
- Clarify relationships between information
- Create a sense of balance and elegance
Nine Tips for Optimizing Resume White Space
While there are no rules on how to incorporate white space into our resume designs, we can’t ignore the power of white space. Here are a few tips:
1. Add paragraph spacing between bullets instead of using single hard returns.
2. Increase space between job description paragraphs and lists of accomplishments.
3. Increase space between headers, so sections don’t appear squished together.
4. Break up long narrative sections. If a qualifications summary starts to read like the Magna Carta, break it into smaller paragraphs.
5. Edit content. Sometimes there’s just too much information, and there’s nothing wrong with making cuts to improve the reader experience.
6. Adjust margins, so there’s breathing room on all sides of the page.
7. Be careful when surrounding certain information with white space, which could draw the eye. For example, offsetting dates in a sea of white space may emphasize a spotty work history.
8. Be consistent. If paragraph spacing is set to 9 points between one job’s bullets, the format should carry over to other job bullets.
9. Refer to the NCRW Study Guide, which has a section that explains how to create white space between lines of text.
Strategically using white space on resumes can improve readability. However, avoid overdoing it, which could result in an amateurish look. Experiment with white space settings to create the perfect balance that works for your documents.