Resume Layout: Examples & Best How-To Tips

Recruiters only spend several seconds skimming your documents. That’s why your resume layout needs to be as clear and scannable as it can. We’ll show you how to get it right.

Maciej Duszyński
Career Expert
Resume Layout: Examples & Best How-To Tips

So, you need to put together a resume, but don’t know what goes where?


Fret not! Laying out a resume doesn’t have to be complicated at all. And you’re about to see how to do it in the most effective way.


In this guide we’ll show you:

  • What’s the best resume layout based on your experience and skills.
  • How to format a simple resume in Word (or any other text editor).
  • Professional resume layout ideas to get you inspired.


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Looking for more information on resume writing? See our other articles:


Looking for more resume examples? Check out these ones:


1. How to Lay Out Your Resume Most Effectively


There are certain basic formatting rules that can help you create a basic resume layout in no time.


Set the Document Margins


If the resume is a picture of your professional life then the margins are the frame—you need to make sure they don’t dominate the whole. The best size for resume margins is 1 inch all around. If you need more space, don’t make the margins smaller than 0.5 inch.


Prepare an Eye-Catching Header


The resume header is the topmost section of a resume that includes your contact details. See to it that it has all the relevant (and up-to-date) info. Make it pop out so that the recruiter won’t have to fumble for your phone number if they want to give you a call.


Pick the Best Resume Fonts


Comic Sans, Papyrus, Neuland Inline. None of those should end up on your resume. Not even if you go for the most creative resume layout. So what resume fonts to use? Simple and legible. Your resume is a professional document, so don’t spoil it with a theme park font that’s difficult to read.


Also, you need to strike the right balance between the font size and document length. Don’t make the font look minuscule to be able to fit in as much as you can on a single page (if you have too much information, write a two-page resume). For body text use the font size of 11–12pts. For section headings, use 2–4pts larger fonts.

Expert Hint: Studies reveal that it’s recommended to avoid extremes when it comes to line spacing. So stick to single-line and if your text looks too dense increase the spacing to 1.15. But avoid double-spaced lines.

Use Relevant Section Headings


The most important thing about your resume layout? It has to be scannable. One way of making it easy for the recruiter to scan is to use appropriate resume section titles. So, put the word Experience above the experience section, don’t call this section My Life in Numbers, for example. With simple headings, you can rest assured that both the ATS and recruiter will know exactly where to look for the information they’re after.


Pick a free MS word resume template or a Google Doc resume template if you want to speed up the process. 


Include the Right Sections


Typically, resume layouts consist of several separate but interrelated sections. Here’s a list of most commonly used ones:


Depending on the section, you will want to use different formatting to make the most of the space you have. For example, the career summary works best as a short paragraph, whereas a list of bullet points is perfect for presenting your experience and key achievements.


Set the Right Limits on Length


Einstein famously said everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. As to the length of a resume, it should be as long as necessary, but not longer. Don’t try to squeeze everything into a single page and don’t write a novel. Two pages should be more than enough to present your expertise.


2. How to Choose a Good Resume Layout for Your Professional Needs


Now that you know how to format your resume layout properly, let’s have a closer look at how to make the most of your document.


There are three common resume layouts: chronological resume, functional resume, and combination resume. Each of them has certain strengths and weaknesses, and you should be aware of them before you start making your resume.


Resume Layouts: Three Most Popular Types


Three Types of Resume Layout


The chronological resume is the most universal type. It’s suitable for job seekers at all stages of their careers: from students to entry-level applicants to seasoned pros. This kind of layout recounts your professional life in a reverse-chronological manner. However, since it’s based on a timeline of your employment history, it may not be the number one choice for those with employment gaps.


Here’s a chronological resume layout example:


resume layout chronological


The functional resume brings your skills to the fore. In contrast to the previous resume layout type, this one isn’t preoccupied with chronology or dates. In fact, you can skip dates entirely if you’re not comfortable using them. Functional resumes are a good choice for creatives who treat a resume as an addition to their portfolio, or those who want to mask gaps in employment.


Here’s a functional resume layout example:



resume layout functional



The combination resume, as the name suggests, brings together the best elements of each of the other resume types. It usually consists of a large section that summarizes your skills and smaller experience and education sections.


Here’s a combination resume layout example:


resume layout combination


If you need more information on each of these types of resumes read our dedicated guide on how to choose the best resume format and our guide on how to format an American resume. If you need more inspiration, check out our resume examples.


Expert Hint: When should you use a resume, and when is it better to use a curriculum vitae? It depends. CV and resume actually have a different meaning across languages. Read about the difference between a resume and a CV.


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3. Best Resume Layout Examples: Gallery


Have a look at these resume layout ideas:


Professional Resume Layout


Create your resume nowprefessional resume layout


This layout consists of three distinctive sections—each of a different color. The main part of the resume is where the resume profile, experience, education, and certification sections are. The gray sidebar on the right gives you extra space for presenting your contact details and extra skills.


Simple Resume Layout


Create your resume nowsimple resume layout


This single-column resume layout is versatile enough to appeal to both experienced and inexperienced candidates writing an entry-level resume. Simple resume icons next to each section’s heading make it easy to navigate. The bars representing your level of proficiency make the resume skills section pop out.


Creative Resume Layout


Create your resume nowcreative resume layout


This creative resume layout incorporates an infographic-like timeline that guides the reader’s eye from section to section. The prominent resume header makes it easy for the recruiter to quickly find your personal details.

Expert Hint: Not all Free Resume Builders are ATS friendly. To make sure your creative resume reaches a human reader, send it directly to the recruiter's inbox.


Modern Resume Layout


Create your resume nowmodern resume layout


This two-column resume layout combines modernity with classical elegance. The main resume section gives you a lot of space for the details of your experience and education. Notice how visible the job titles are. The sidebar is where you can put your contact details and accentuate key skills.

Expert Hint: Studies show that recruiters only spend about 7 seconds scanning a resume. In this time they look at specific areas and search for particular information. Use bold and italics to direct their attention to the most important bits.

Basic Resume Layout


Create your resume nowbasic resume layout


This layout is minimal in form but utilizes the space on a single page to the maximum. Also, the qualifications summary section stretches from margin to margin giving you plenty of room to highlight your top achievements.


Double your impact with a matching resume and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.


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Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.


Key Points


The best resume layouts highlight just the information recruiters look for as they’re scanning the resume for the first time.

  • See to it that your resume layout is simple and clear. Mark resume sections clearly and add relevant section titles.
  • Stay away from fancy fonts. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • Make sure your job titles stand out. They’re one of the things the recruiters are most interested in.
  • Do add a resume summary or objective. They serve as a short overview of the entire document.
  • Avoid messy look. Write short sentences and leave plenty of white space.
  • Pick the right resume format. Chronological resumes are the most versatile but you may want to consider functional or combination too.


Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your observations on the best resume layouts? We’d love to hear from you! Give us a shout out in the comments below.

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Maciej Duszyński
Maciej Duszynski is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. With over 8 years of experience in recruitment, hiring, and training, Maciej shares insider HR knowledge to equip every job seeker with professional advice to nail the job hunt. His insights have been featured by the Chicago Tribune, SparkPeople, Toggl, Referral Rock, and Databox, among others. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.

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