themes and styles for CV

Using Word Styles to spruce up your CV

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One of my most popular PPH Hourlies is proofreading of CVs, cover letters or personal statements. When you are submitting that all important job application it pays to have a second pair of eyes check your text for typos, inconsistency and flow. An attractively laid out, professional CV is your opportunity to create the best impression with a potential new employer. This is where Word Styles can help.

Basic rules

Most careers advisors and recruitment companies agree on the basic rules of CV creation. The document should be no more than two pages long, use a professional font such as Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman, and present information in a logical order. For example: personal statement, key skills, chronological employment history, education, and hobbies and interests. There are plenty of CV templates to download from the internet.

Using Styles

All Word documents have a basic, default style. In the version of Word 2013 that I’m using there are 17 built-in style sets and 33 themes – according to my calculations that gives you the possibility of 561 different documents, without even thinking of designing your own! The default style is Office Lines (simple); this is a minimalist look using the Calibri font which is fine for a business document like a CV. I also like the style called Shaded. Once you have set up the headings and text using Styles you can play around with different looks simply by hovering the mouse over the different styles in the Design tab until you find one that takes your fancy.

Design tab themes and styles
Word themes and styles for your CV

Applying Styles is easy. On the Home tab you’ll see 16 different styles ranging from the normal text to headings, titles, quotations and lists. Just highlight the text you want to make into, let’s say, a heading and click on the relevant style, or click the style before typing. The styles are linked with what Microsoft designers consider to be the best matching fonts, sizes and colours.

Styles for your CV
Word styles on the home page

Your CV

How can Styles help with the layout of your CV? First, it will ensure consistency. If you use the same style for each heading you’ll be sure that the font sizes and spacing are all the same. This is easier than individually checking the formatting of each heading and paragraph. Second, it’s easy to see what a different style would look like and make different versions of the same document.

Some examples

In the first example below, which is the Dividend theme and the Shaded style, you could use the Heading 1 style for the name and the titles of career history, qualifications, etc., the Strong style for the address and job titles, and Normal style for the running text.

Using word styles for your CV
Dividend theme shaded style

The second example below shows exactly the same text and style types but uses the Metropolitan theme and the Centered style.

themes and styles for CV
Metropolitan theme Centred style

So, you can see that there is lots of scope to change the look of your CV whilst maintaining a professional edge. You can also use some of the more informal styles when formatting personal documents. I’ve recently been gathering together all my favourite recipes and have frittered away several happy hours experimenting with different themes and styles for a personal recipe book.