More about typeset resumes



A standout presentation tool for executive resumés, professional resumés, and media resumés.



You’ll want a typeset resumé if paper (or PDF) resumés are an important part of your job search—as “leave-behinds” for interviews, or mailed directly to decision-makers—and if you need those resumés to look as distinctive and professional as they possibly can. In these situations, an expertly crafted typeset resumé will make an impression that Word resumés can’t match.

Typeset resumés are particularly valuable for executives and senior professionals, who will be meeting personally with many people during the hiring process. Freelancers and consultants, who contact decision-makers directly, and for whom the hiring process never ends, will also value them. And they can make a special, professional impression for people in the arts and glamour industries.

A typeset resumé is a supplement to the standard resumé formats—it’s not a substitute for any of them. (Though a PDF of a typeset resumé will be a lot more impressive than a PDF of a Word resumé.) Most of your job contacts will still start out with an e-mailed plain-text or Word resumé, especially when your initial contact is the HR department.


We bring decades of typographic experience to our typeset resumés—technical consulting, design, and production projects, from business communications to books to all sorts of publicity material, for leading publishers, corporations, and ad agencies. We know informational typography, and how to make the most of the straightforward design appropriate for resumés. We’ve chosen our resumé typefaces specifically to meet the needs of resumé use, on the basis of detailed technical and aesthetic criteria. We’ve developed special production guidelines to make the best use of each face, and in some cases we’ve customized the letterspacing for a font, or modified the fontware to make sure it functions flawlessly in the technical environment a resumé will face.

The same expertise will be applied to every detail of your resumé. And then it will be expertly checked for all the typographic details, as well as for editorial quality. (Typographic quality control is a specialty in itself.)

If you’re interested, we can send some typeset resumés for you to look at.


Typeset resumés are available only in combination with one of our standard service packages (Resumé Makeover, Resumé Consulting, or Executive Consulting). Typeset versions of supplementary pieces (salary history, references sheet, networking resumé) are also available.

Typeset resumés and supplementary pieces are delivered in PDF format only. You can make printouts from the PDF yourself, take them to a copy shop for output, or e-mail the PDF to a job prospect. PDF is the most stable format for sending resumés to others: PDF files can be printed out by anyone anywhere, and will always look exactly the same—there are no compatibility issues, and (if the PDF is properly made, as we make them) the person printing them out doesn’t need to have the fonts on their computer. PDF is also the only way to e-mail a typeset resumé to an employer.

(Anyone can use PDFs as long as they have Acrobat Reader, a trouble-free and reliable application available as a free download from Adobe. For more about the PDF format, see the entry for PDF in our Resumé Glossary.)

Paper output on fine business paper is available for an additional charge. See Paper Output (on our Services page) for details.

IMPORTANT: You will not be able to edit or modify typeset pieces yourself, because PDFs can’t be modified. We can do alternate versions of the typeset resumés and other pieces, if you like. We do not release the native application (InDesign or Quark) files.

Since typeset files can’t be modified, the typeset format doesn’t apply to letters. We can, however, design typeset stationery for you to go with your typeset resumé. For details, see the product description for Personalized Stationery.


Word was developed as a utility application for producing and exchanging office documents. That’s why it’s now part of a suite named “Office.” The documents it produces, at home or at work, are typically one-offs, read by a very limited audience over a very short time span. And while those documents do have to communicate, they usually don’t have to persuade or impress in competitive situations—when they do, it’s usually in conjunction with other sales material, such as printed pieces or Web sites.

Like all word processors, Word has to be easily usable by large numbers of people who have little or no special training. For that reason, it sacrifices a lot of user control over typography and the fine points of layout—features whose use would require training and special knowledge. And the tradeoff is well worth while, in exchange for easy production and general portability of the kind of utilitarian documents produced with Word.

To the extent that Word does allow control over fine points, it tends to allow only limited use of that control, in very standardized manners. Often, Word takes control away from the user, changing things the user has done in an attempt to enforce a very mediocre minimum of quality and consistency.

To experienced users of professional page-layout software (InDesign or Quark), Word seems not only extremely crude, but—thanks to the aggressive “guidance” enforced by the program—extremely cumbersome even for its limited capabilities. For them, using Word feels like having their legs broken so they can enjoy the privilege of riding in an electric wheelchair.

For resumé use, Word (like other word processors), has another serious limitation. Word resumés are often sent by e-mail, to be printed out by the recipient. This means that the recipient must have the fonts used in the document—if they don’t, a default font will be substituted, which will rearrange and seriously degrade the appearance of the document. Only a few fonts are standard on (virtually) all computers, and only two of these—Times and Helvetica/Arial—are suitable for resumés. So in practice, Word resumés are limited to those two fonts. (We think Times is preferable for resumés.) Even with the standard fonts, there will often be some variations when a Word document is displayed or printed out on another computer, especially one with a different version of Word or a different operating system or operating system version. These variations are usually minor—but the necessity of designing a document that will look acceptable whatever variations may occur imposes further limitations on the design.

(Microsoft recognizes the limitations of Word. For the past fifteen years, they have produced a program called Publisher, which has more extensive layout and formatting options than Word. Publisher has never amounted to much. Page-layout programs and word processors have each developed to meet the needs of distinct fields, and there seems to be little need for a program that straddles the boundary between those fields, far from the central concerns of either.)

Resumés produced with InDesign or Quark, and delivered in PDF format, have none of these limitations. They will look exactly the same no matter where they are displayed or printed. They can make full use of every technique of typography and layout. They can use typefaces that are both more distinctive and more suitable for resumés than are Times or Helvetica (which are great typefaces nonetheless).

The difference isn’t going to knock your eye out from ten feet away. But people don’t look at resumés from ten feet away. Good resumé typography is a matter of subtleties. Hundreds of subtleties on a page add up to a very visible difference. Side-by-side with a Word resumé, or coming up after someone has read a dozen Word resumés, there’s going to be an immediate and very distinctive impression, especially when the resumé is on paper. It won’t be a loud impression. A well-designed resumé doesn’t shout, and the design of the resumé shouldn’t distract from the content, or make irrelevant personal statements that are more likely to prejudice the reader against you than for you. (A resumé is no place for “expressive typography.”) But a well-designed resumé will be better looking, with none of the visual glitches that are the rule in Word documents. It will be easier on the eye and easier to read—which is greatly appreciated by people who have to read a lot of resumés.

Yes, Word users could overcome the font limitation, and the variability, by converting the document to PDF format. That’s why we always send you PDF versions of your Word resumé, in addition to the Word file. (Word has in fact, for over ten years, had font embedding capabilities for Word documents. But these are limited and tricky, and have proven to be of little practical use.) And there would still be the design limitations of Word itself (or of other word processors). Even if you could find a Word operator with the necessary skills—and it’s a near certainty that you can’t—it would take a lot of time and trouble to even try to overcome those limitations within Word, and the result would still be inferior to a typeset resumé done by a skilled craftsperson.

Of course, a Word resumé, along with a plain-text resumé, is all most job-seekers need. Word is still an essential and valuable format for resumés, and a Word resumé still has to look as good as a Word resumé can. When we do Word resumés, we use our typographic and technical expertise to get the most out of Word, and to overcome its limitations as far as possible.

But if you need a separate version of your resumé in order to give employers paper resumés or PDFs that look as good as they possibly can, it makes more sense to have that version typeset by a skilled professional.

Finding a skilled professional to do the typographic design and production of your resumé is, unfortunately, another problem. People with the skills to make the most of informational typography are a rare breed. You’re very unlikely to find them in an ad agency or design studio—and even less likely to find them in a copy shop.

We’ve got those skills, and we specialize in resumés. We invite you to compare our typeset resumés with the best Word resumés you can find—and with anyone else’s typeset resumés. (While you’re at it, feel free to compare our Word resumés with the best Word resumés you can find.)



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