December 14, 2009 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Curriculum Vitae Format and Layout Tips

A Curriculum Vitae (“CV”) is an important tool in your career development. A resume and CV serve the same purpose: to get an interview. However, a resume is a one page (two at the most) summary of your experience, while a CV is two to three pages because it includes more information. In addition to job experience, the CV includes a detailed summary of your education, teaching experience, publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations and other details relevant to the position you want.

Sometimes we focus so much on the content of a CV, we neglect formatting and layout of this document.  Presentation counts!  Let’s look at the proper format and layout of a CV.  Can you identify the common mistakes in the layout below?


It’s all a mistake! Well, maybe not all … the font size/style is okay. Mistakes include using:

1) “Curriculum Vitae” as the heading of the document. It is not necessary to point this out — the heading of the document should simply be your name.

2) Colorful fonts. Use a black font, and stay away from multicolored fonts.

3) A personal photograph: You want your potential employers to focus on your abilities, not what you look like.

4) Graphics: Don’t use any pretty pictures of any kind. Again, ditch anything that takes the focus away from your abilities, whether that is a photo, colored fonts, fancy borders or graphics.

So, creating an outstanding layout is simple!

  • Your Name and contact details are at the top (don’t forget your phone number!).
  • Use black font in Arial or Times New Roman (size 10 or 12).

And bullet point your information (instead of creating blocks of text) to keep your information easy to read at a glance.

One more important tip: Don’t rely on spell check! Have someone else read your finished CV. Spell-checkers overlook lots of words that are spelled correctly but are wrong in context, like:

“Extra Circular Activities”

“Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave”

“Instrumental in ruining an entire operation”

Remember, you get 30 seconds to impress a potential employer with your CV, so win that important interview by creating a document that focuses on the right things — your excellent qualifications for the position!

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