The tricky part about resume writing is getting your sections to be direct and easy to read. Employers spend very little time on each resume, so the use of font modifiers is a must.
You want to ensure your resume is formatted clearly for a potential employer, but are italics the way to go to do so?
“Should I Use Italics on a Resume?”
Writing phrases using italics a great way to separate information listed in a resume so long as the resume is not oversaturated with them. Only italicize short phrases, as longer sentences are not often written this way. Some people opt not to use italics, and this is acceptable as well.
Using italics to denote official titles
Italics should never be placed on a word or phrase in the middle of a sentence unless it is an official title or organization name. This is often used when including research on a resume, as official journals are normally italicized. For example, when listing a publication on your resume:
Smith, J. Upward Trends in Crowdfunding. The Economic Journal Volume 34. (Issue 7) 14-16. 2016
Italics can also be used to identify official organizations such as ones that award certifications or licenses. Because their names are often trademarked or under copyright, the professional way to list them is to have the name in italics.
An example of the use of italics in this instance is as follows:
- CFA® Charterholder, CFA Institute
In this example, the CFA institute is a professional organization. In order to separate this information and make it stand out, italics are used.
Using italics to separate information on a resume
Italics may also be used to separate smaller pieces of information from others, allowing a resume to be read more quickly. This is often used with pieces of information such as listing dates, job positions, or company names. While it is not necessary, it is recommended to improve readability.
The work experience section is one that often uses italics, as each job has many pieces of information which need to be listed. This can be done in a number of ways, so do not fret if your section looks slightly different than the listed examples.
The main thing to remember is that you should only be italicizing one piece of information per job, and the same rule applies for using bold lettering. If you use too many italics, they lose their purpose of making information stand out.
Choose either the date, the job title, or the company name to italicize. This can look like the following examples:
Rudy’s Diner – Front Hostess (January 2014) – (December 2016)
Rudy’s Diner – Front Hostess (January 2014) – (December 2016)
While this looks like an insignificant change, it can subconsciously allow our brains to process information more quickly when presented with a 1-2 page resume.
This is very important, as employers do not spend much time reading each applicant’s resume.
Using italics to separate insignificant information on a resume
This advice is a bit confusing, as the golden rule of resume writing is always to cut out the extraneous. That being said, such ‘insignificant information’ is sometimes necessary, specifically when listing licenses.
Licenses put on a resume require the use of license numbers in order to verify the validity of one’s claims. Of course, this number does not need to be prominently displayed on a resume, so it can be separated out from the rest of the text to improve readability.
Italics are a great way to separate text, so let’s look at an example of this being done:
- Lean Six Sigma Black Belt – License #123456789 (4-20xx)
In this example, the Six Sigma license title is put in bold to draw attention to the achievement itself, and the license number is put in italics in order to quickly let the reader know that this piece of information is separate.
Italics do not immediately denote significant or insignificant information, rather they separate a chunk of information from the main text. Then, the reader can quickly determine whether that chunk needs to be read carefully or not.
It’s a tricky skill to master because this type of writing appeals to the reader’s subconscious mind, but it is necessary to format your resume in such a way that it can be read and understood as quickly as possible.
Sometimes you can take a bit more leeway and italicize both the date and the license number, such as in the case of listing patents on a resume. Both pieces of information are only “important” to the reader if they are validating your claims.
They do not need to be focused on immediately, thus the italics are useful here.
“Combination Translation and Transcription Device” – US Patent No. 123,456,789 – Date of Patent: Jan 1, 20xx
When not to use italics on a resume
Do not use italics to express emphases on a word as you might in a different piece of writing. Resumes are not creative writing pieces, and this type of writing is unprofessional for resume purposes.
Example of what not to do: “Worked tirelessly under the brutal sunlight in rural Thailand.”
You should also avoid using italics for entire sentences, as this draws attention to or away from too large a chunk of information.
Some resumes will use italics for every bullet point listed beneath a job, but this format does nothing to increase the readability of a resume.
Words or phrases which are written in bold should not be italicized. Bold and italics are two separate ways to draw attention to text, but combining them does not increase this effect in a positive way.
It is quite rare for this to be done, so it may make your words stand out in a peculiar way.
As is commonly said, a resume that stands out in a bad way is worse than one which doesn’t stand out at all.
It is best to be conservative with any special formatting such as the use of bold or italics, as too much of it will cause the effect of such text to be lost.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.