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To accent or not to accent? That is the question. And we have an answer.
In just a few minutes, you’ll be a language aficionado, ready to impress everyone with your resume spelling knowledge.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How the different dictionaries spell resume.
- The origins of the word “resume.”
- Where does the letter é come from, and how to use it in MS Word and other software?
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Where Does “Résumé” Come From?
As a noun, the word resume (or résumé) was first recorded in the English lexicon in 1804 and means “a summary.” It originates from a French verb—resumer, which is a verb that means “to sum up.” Résumé as a noun would then translate into “something summed up.”
And what is a résumé? Nowadays, a résumé is a brief, written document describing one’s professional and educational qualifications. It’s a form that jobseekers deliver to potential employers, thus starting their recruitment process in the specific company.
And about that pesky “é.” It’s used in English to show words of foreign origin. Known as “acute accent,” it signals that the term was adopted from a different lexicon and also points to it being pronounced more like an “ey.” For a couple of common examples, think of the words café or cliché.
But that’s enough background on the origins of résumé. Now, let’s discuss how to actually spell it.
Expert Hint: Watch out for the two different types of accents. An “é” (with a dash going right) has an acute accent, while “è” (with a dash going left) is known as having a grave accent. Acute accents are pronounced with a high pitch, while grave accents lower the pitch. An accented résumé always uses only acute accents.
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How to Spell Resume for a Job?
Unfortunately, we must start with the dreaded answer of “It depends.” Depends, of course, on the dictionary we’re referencing. So let’s take a look at the most popular options:
- Cambridge Dictionary: Both résumé and resume are accepted spellings of the noun. However, resumé is nowhere to be found.
- Oxford Advanced American Dictionary: Treats résumé as the suggested spelling, but also considers resumé and resume as correct.
- Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: Describes all three forms as valid, but notes that resumé is not a common spelling.
- The American Heritage Dictionary: Just like above, considers all three spellings as proper.
- Wiktionary: Again, accepts all three forms.
So what’s the answer? How to spell résumé? The dictionaries seem split between résumé and resume (since resumé seems to be the least used). Maybe we should seek the answer by looking at popular writing styles rather than dictionaries. Let’s see—
- AP (Associated Press) Stylebook: Their guidelines, even with the recent update, are clear. No accents in cafe, decor, or resume.
- Chicago Manual of Style: States that they are leaving this problem to the dictionaries, specifically Merriam-Webster. As a general rule of thumb, M-W tends to use accents despite allowing for both forms.
And again, we arrive at an impasse. Maybe one that ever so slightly favors the resume with no accent team. It’s high time we analyze the options ourselves.
Expert Hint: If you ever see the spelling of résume written like that, know it’s completely incorrect in English. Stay away from this form.
Which Form of Resume Is Correct?
What we know so far is that all three forms are correct. But which one of them would be the most correct?
Let’s first tackle the spelling with two diacritical marks. This is the grammatically correct version, as it follows the rule of adding acute accents to borrowed words. There is also no chance of mistaking this noun for the verb “to resume.”
But, because of its professional, or even academic, undertone, some people may find this spelling pretentious. So unless you’re making an academic résumé, accents may not be the best idea.
What happens then when we remove the first résumé accent and leave the second one? Well, there are some good reasons why this form should be used. Obviously, just like résumé with both accents, it differentiates the noun from the verb “resume.”
But that’s not all. As we mentioned already, “é” is pronounced as “-ey,” and the proper pronunciation of “resumé” is re-zoo-may, not rey-zoo-may.
However, this spelling of resume is grammatically inconsistent. That’s because we only add one accent out of two. That’s like filling only half of the sections on a resume and calling it done.
Because of this, many people and language correction tools will treat resumé as an error. And that’s why you should avoid this spelling.
A resume with no accent is the most popular version, we also use it in the vast majority of our guides. What are the upsides of this spelling? Well…
It’s very easy and convenient to type. It doesn’t sound pretentious. And this spelling is also grammatically correct. The only downside? Both the verb and the noun of resume are written the same, so in certain sentences, they could cause confusion.
So, here’s our verdict. The winner of the resume accent tournament is—resume!
Expert Hint: However you choose to spell resume, keep it consistent. Don’t mix and match the resume with an accent and without an accent. This will only generate more confusion.
Where to Find “é” in Word and Other Software
Even though we declared resume with no accents the winner, you may still want to use the form—résumé. If you do, you’re going to run into trouble of “where can I find the é?”
Here’s the rundown:
- Word: Ctrl + ‘ + e.
- Google Docs: No shortcuts here. You’ll have to go to Insert - Special Characters - Latin and find “é” there.
- Unicode (universal code for Windows): Alt + 0233. Remember to type the numbers on your numpad and not use the row of numbers above the qwerty line.
- Mac: Option key + e
- Mobile: Hold down the “e” key and select “é” from the displayed options.
- With the LanguageTool extension (and some other spell checkers), you can just type “resum” and then select résumé from the correction suggestions.
Expert Hint: What about a covér léttér? You obviously don’t need to worry about acute accents in cover letters, but you need cover letters themselves to get a good job. Learn how to write a cover letter; always send one with your resume.
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Here are the most important things to remember about resume spelling:
- Résumé, resumé, and resume are all correct forms, but resumé is the least popular, while resume is the most common.
- Résumé uses acute accents, don’t mistake them for grave accents.
- Be consistent with your resume spelling. Opt for one of the forms and stick to it.
Did you learn something from our article? Do you have any questions about resume accents? Shoot us a comment down below, We’ll be happy to reply.