Ch. 12: Layout - how should a finished CV look?

In this chapter you will:

• make your CV legible, scannable and readable

• ensure your CV is error-free

You have already put a lot of work into content and style. Now it’s time to perfect the layout to make sure your CV is read, understood and remembered.

The basic elements of good layout are drawn from years of scientific study into how people look at, read and process information. There are three things you must get right. A CV needs to be:

  • legible
  • scannable
  • readable.

Getting this right means a CV that begs to be picked up and that won’t be forgotten.

Making your CV legible

This simply means that someone can clearly make out the letters and words in your CV. It’s amazing how often people get carried away making a page look ‘pretty’, or trying to fit too much onto two pages. Looking inviting is important, but don’t forget the purpose of your CV is to be read and understood.

Here are some basic legibility guidelines:


  • Don’t spend hours picking out complex fonts that look nice – these can be hard to read.
  • Do use simple, clear fonts: for printed CVs, popular serif or sans serif fonts are both fine. It's okay to mix two fonts like newspapers do, for example, sans serif for headlines, serif for body text:

A freelance marketing consultant with a highly creative yet proven commercial approach. Winner of industry awards for planning and executing successful branding and launch campaigns, such as 2009's Yobabes organic yoghurt drink, Exobet online betting services and Pinx fashion accessories.

For online CVs, sans serif fonts are better as they are more legible on screen. If you are likely to send your CV on both paper and email, stay with sans serif. Changing fonts back and forth can alter your page layout so once you find a font or a combination of fonts that you like, it ’ s best to stick to it.


The most popular fonts are popular for a reason: now is not the time to be different. Times New Roman is the classic serif font, and is still the most common in printed material. Arial, Verdana and Tahoma are all common sans serif fonts. Try to avoid fonts like Courier New as they can look rather primitive on a CV.


  • Don’t think tiny text will help you to cram in more words –they end up too small to read easily.
  • Don’t use text smaller than 10 point as it is too hard for most people to read easily...

The extract above has been taken from 'Get That Job With the Right CV'
Copyright © 2010 Julie Gray

Get That Job With the Right CV

From Julie Gray, Senior Consultant at The CV Centre®, Get that Job with the Right CV will help to teach you how to write the best possible CV to land that perfect job.

It covers everything from layout and format, through to perfecting a jargon-free writing style, avoiding common pitfalls and tailoring your CV to different jobs.  Julie’s in-depth professional advice and friendly style will guide you through every step of the CV writing process with humour and practicality and give you real confidence to effectively showcase your skills to employers.

As a professional CV writer at The CV Centre®, Julie sees every single day which CVs really achieve results.  This puts her in an excellent position to help you to create a truly exceptional CV of your own.