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Effective Use of White Space on a Resume: Practical Tips and Tricks

White space is an important aspect of a resume and can play a key role in the success of your job search -- without you even knowing it. Using white space effectively improves the readability of a resume, accentuates the content, and significantly affects the overall impression and visual appeal of your resume.

So, to create a professional and polished resume, it's essential to use white space effectively.

Here you'll find practical tips to optimize white space usage and make your resume stand out, as well as frequently asked questions, including:

Without further ado, let's get into it!


What is white space on a resume?

White space is the area between design elements. On a resume, white space or negative space, as it is often called, is an area that remains unused when separating sections and paragraphs of text.

Simply put, white space refers to the parts of a document that are not written or printed on. When we talk about resumes, white space refers to the gaps between paragraphs and lines, blank space that separates one heading from another, margins and any other empty spaces.

These are typically used to group sections together or separate one section from another. They can also be used as a strategic design element that draws attention to important details like contact information, skills, experiences, qualifications, etc.

Effective use of white space helps create a clean, organized format that makes your resume easier to read and digest.

Effective use of white space helps create a clean, organized format that makes your resume easier to read and digest. In general, when managing the white space, the goal is to create an organized appearance and provide breathing room so that your resume doesn't seem cluttered.


Why is white space on a resume important?

White space on a resume accentuates content, making it easy for hiring managers to see important information. It helps organize the text and makes it easier for potential employers to read your job application by drawing the eye to the most important information and allowing the reader's eye to rest for a split second before moving onto the next paragraph.

White space is essential for three reasons.

  • First, it makes the resume easier to read and scan through quickly.

  • Second, white space contributes to the visual appeal, helping a resume stand out in a pile at first glance.

  • Third, it allows your experiences, qualifications and skills to shine without a reader being overwhelmed by text on a page -- a common problem with resumes that are too wordy or dense in the information that isn't relevant.

When used effectively, white space gives your resume an organized appearance and improves its chances of being read and considered by employers. Without strategically used white space, resume content would be difficult to decipher and digest -- and many recruiters and employers would give up on reading it.

That’s why white space is critical for a resume’s success.


How much white space should you have on a resume?

When creating a resume, how do you know how much white space is too much or too little? How can you add enough white space without losing valuable career-related information? Or how can you reduce it without making your resume look cluttered and cramped?

Getting the right amount of white space on a resume can be tricky, and many people are unsure how to achieve this since there is no setpoint that helps you determine the appropriate amount of blank space between and around the content.

Read on to understand how too much or not enough white space can be interpreted and precisely what you can do to use it in your resume effectively.

What if you have too much white space on a resume?

Having too much white space makes a resume look blank and incomplete.

Most commonly, a resume has too much white space when there is a half-empty resume page. There shouldn't be more than one-fourth of a page empty, whether you have one or two resume pages.

This might send a wrong message to its reader, as it could signify to employers that you have nothing of value to say or offer them. In other words, it’s a red flag in the hiring manager’s mind, as it instantly looks like you don’t have sufficient experience to fill up space on a page.

Making this kind of impression with your application will result in your resume being discarded quickly without further consideration.

What if you don't have enough white space on a resume?

On the other hand, not having enough space results in a resume that looks cramped, disorganized, messy and is hard to read.

Typically, it happens when candidates squeeze in too much information to a one-page document by using a too small font, minimal line space and margins.

With the poor use of white space, the reader will have a difficult time moving from one line or section of the resume to the next because there are no breaks in between.

It's like reading blocks of text without paragraph indentations - it can be exhausting on the eyes and may make a hiring manager or recruiter lose focus easily. All of this will result in your job application being sent to the ‘no’ pile as soon as it meets the recruiter's eye.


How to create white space on a resume?

To effectively use white space on a resume, pay attention to the following elements:

Read on for practical design tips.

Line spacing

Line spacing is the space between lines of resume content.

When resume lines are too close together, it can create a sense of clutter, making it difficult to read the resume content and scan for important keywords. Resume line spacings that are too far apart provides white space but doesn't provide enough structure for resume information such as section headings or list items.

To significantly improve readability, lines in the body of your resume should be at least one inch apart. If you have a lot of content and your resume is starting to look crowded, increase the resume’s line spacing to 1.1 or 1.15.

Paragraph spacing

Similar to line spacing, paragraph spacing is the space between resume paragraphs.

White space between paragraphs is critical in creating an organized, easy-to-read layout of a resume. It provides a sense of structure because it creates additional space around headings and visually separates different resume sections.

With the right spacing between paragraphs, the resume content becomes easier to read, and the important information is more noticeable. These features can draw attention to specific parts of the resume and help a resume stand out.

To improve the readability of your resume, adjust and increase the spacing after each heading. Also, create space between groups of information in the employment or education section.

Another thing important to pay attention to is consistency. Make sure that the paragraph spacing is consistent throughout the document. Otherwise, the resume structure and flow will be hard to understand and follow.

Font style and size

Font style and size are essential graphic elements that contribute to a document's readability.

Frequently, this is the first thing a reader notices.

When writing a resume, use professional, easily readable fonts. Set the font size anywhere from 10 to 12 pt, depending on the font style. Don't apply a too small font that requires readers to read it with a magnifying glass. The minimum size recommended is 9.5 pt. Don't go below that size.

Bullet points

You can create additional white space by using bullet points instead of paragraphs to make things easy for recruiters who scan resumes fast before deciding which candidates they want to interview.