I am often asked to consult with entrepreneurs and established business owners on how they can do things better, improve their business model, or better manage their employees. And I am surprised that, quite often, there is nothing overly wrong with their business, there are just a few tweaks needed to get the ship moving in the right direction. A great place for them (and for anyone) to start would be with one of the most elemental: decision-making.

This would seem like a pretty obvious thing, right? After all, we make decisions every day (Do I get up, or stay in bed? What do I have for lunch? Do I want to read a book or watch TV?), and they are things that we do without much conscious thought. But when it comes to decision-making in the business world, the decisions start taking on a much bigger degree of importance.

As a result, a lot of us agonize over the process, or we gather as much information and data as possible, or we ask everyone around us what they think, looking for validation on a decision that is ultimately ours to make. Whichever way we take it, it’s clear what many of us think: Decision-making in business carries a lot of weight.

Bullshit.

Decision-making in business is no different than in everyday life. The important thing is to make one.

Our decisions feel bigger in business because they are attached to fears that loom larger: I will fail, I’ll lose this employee, everyone will think my logo stinks or that the business name is stupid, etc. In such an all-or-nothing line of thinking, any risk could spell the end. However, the reality is that you will fail many times and mostly in ways that won’t jeopardize the entire existence of the business.

Not failing means not taking risks; it means being afraid – which means what? Staying stagnant and running the risk of not growing or evolving, which is really why people ask me to consult: because they’re stuck and don’t know which direction to go in next.

Sure, we all make the wrong decision sometimes, in business as in real life (I shouldn’t have gone to that $9.99 all-you-can-eat sushi buffet…). And sure, some of those decisions could be detrimental. But the key word is some. There are so many great things we could be doing if we just made a decision, stuck to it and executed it. The worst that could happen is that it could fail, which only gives you an opportunity to learn. This sounds cliché but it’s true. If you never do something, you’ll never learn from it.

So, remember to have a belief in yourself and what you have set out to do. If you remain true to your authentic self and vision, failure may bruise – but it won’t break.


Dennis Masel is co-founder of Creative Circle. He believes in hiring people better than yourself and investing in them emotionally. He knows the key to success is daring your team to dream.

I’ve been on the job hunt for a while now. And I’m still not where I want to be. The feeling that has surfaced most continuously throughout this process has been frustration. With my aimlessless, my lack of a larger goal to work towards, comes a frustration that seethes out of every pore and oft infects my days with vexing irritability. I feel like a knight trying to figure out how to get to a castle with no idea of what the castle looks like, no way to spot it out on the horizon, and thus no way to determine the best path towards it.

Beyond this base level aggravation, one of the most stress-inducing parts of the job hunt has been relaxation. Now you might be thinking, “Isn’t that nonsensical?” Well, yes and no.

Right now, my spare time is when I’m not a) at my first internship, b) at my second internship, c) trying to get to said internships in absurd Los Angeles traffic, d) doing work for one after getting home from the other, e) music blogging, f) working on side projects, or g) planning/thinking about other projects I want to start. And for my sanity, I carve out time for rejuvenation: tv watching, cooking, painting, music making, reading, etc.

And between all of that, I still have to look for a job. Needless to say, how I use my spare time has become very important.

I tried searching for jobs in the morning before work, after dinner after work, and at different times during the weekend. I found that job searching before work conflicts with my ability to go on morning walk/ get the green time necessary for a happy and healthy Nina. After work, I rarely have the zeal to look because I’m both tired from work and too preoccupied with other work still to be done. Looking on weekend evenings made me feel somehow more hopeless (likely because I was home on a Saturday night not with my friends but looking for a job). Finally, I found that the mornings were best because the weekend calm coupled with the balm of soft morning light allowed me to feel most hopeful and energetic in my search.

Dedicating time to the job hunt is not easy, especially when it feels like there is always something more I can do – more of myself I can give – to the commitments already in my life. Everything feels important, but in the end, it just feels that way.

I’m trying to retrain my brain not to take on a thousand projects at one time, but to draw attention to those that both help others out the most and feed me and my growth. I’m trying to learn how to prioritize, to give myself smaller to-do lists that are actually accomplishable, and to not beat myself up if I don’t get everything done that I want because I’m human and we only have so much brain capacity and so much time.

Keywords: I’m trying.


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles wading through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

This morsel is about typography of slide presentations.


Have you ever been in the audience of a conference seminar or presentation and “checked out?”

That’s me, and it happens all the time. I usually start to daydream about seven minutes in. Sure, some of the mind-wandering has to do with the lack of the presenter’s tone, enthusiasm, and speaking skill, but if the visuals don’t match the content, I get easily distracted.

Sometimes slide typos or tangents in the imagery will catch my eye and I begin to play the “find what needs to be fixed” game. Other times, the presentation design just has too much going on. But most of the time, it feels like I’m lost. Long presentations seem to go on forever. Sometimes I notice others checked out too, as evidenced by their eyes looking down at their smartphones.

Presentation slides might be easier to follow if they were designed simply, like children’s storybooks. With large letters, few words per sentence, page numbers and chapter breaks; these mental tracking devices help us to follow a story in a simple manner, tell us when we can take a mental break, and when we can expect to finish.

Used in your slide presentation, these mental devices can help audiences follow along and track your verbal delivery, enriching both the visual and audible experience in real time.

If you’re designing five slides or 200 slides, consider incorporating design devices to keep your audience’s attention:

  1. Consider the reader when choosing fonts
  2. Consistency in formatting is key
  3. Size matters and less is more

Consider the reader when choosing fonts.

When setting a type size for your slides, consider the reading distance between your audience’s eyes and the presentation. Yes, there’ll be a reading distance difference between presenting a printed deck across the table to one person, and presenting an on-screen talk to a crowd of 5,000.

For example, a typeface with thin serifs may not work well in low contrast presentations. For ease-of-reading consider typefaces with thick serifs, or medium and bold sans serif fonts. If there’s a font aptly named “display” or “banner,” then you may have found one that’s heavy enough for the screen. For your headers and chapter break headlines, choose display faces that aren’t so overly decorative where it slows the reader down.

Make it easy for your audience to read, and they’ll follow right along.

Chapter Break Sample

Our topic transition slide, as shown with Miller Display, a heavier font made for larger sizes, and set at 65 points.

Here’s a trick; design a single slide with your chosen typefaces, then stand back from your computer to see if you can read it from a distance. Then, keep the lights on and dim the screen as low as it can go, and read it again. Test as many light conditions as possible, especially if you aren’t able to work with the venue’s projector ahead of time.

Consistency in formatting is key.

Using a consistent grid, typography system and color palette will keep order and help to make each slide feel like it’s part of a larger story. If every page follows the system, you’ll create harmony and unity from the cover slide to the ending slide, and every topic in-between.

Music Sample

Our baseline grid shown in InDesign, with type and imagery lined up to the grid.

Think about incorporating topic transition slides. In books, we refer to them as section or chapter breaks; in the theater, they are known as act names (Act I, Act II, etc). As you begin another topic, consider designing these pages with proportionally larger type and different background colors, while utilizing the system grid. These slides will serve to create a pause in your story’s pace and bring audiences back to the topic if they’ve checked out.

For the top and or bottom of the slide, you might consider developing a header and footer system to address the name of the presentation and the slide number, serving as a folio and page number. For presentations longer than 30 slides, the use of this device is not only appropriate but creates structure for the overall presentation.

For charts and graphs, don’t forget to incorporate the design system into these too. Information graphics are a key part of the presentation and challenge people to make sense of them. Format your visuals so they look like they are characters in the story, and keep your audience’s brains on-topic.

Size matters and less is more.

Silicon Valley marketer Guy Kawasaki once said “If you need to put 8–point or 10–point fonts up there it’s because you do not know your material.”

Typically, the larger the font the better, with respect to the margins. We’re talking 24 points and higher here, but don’t design to the edge of the screen. Words will be the main focus when using ample white space all around.

That also means less copy on the slide. Don’t ask your audience to do double duty; read and listen at the same time. If you have to put words on screen, make them count — you can convey the rest of the content verbally.

En Dash Sample

Less words help to highlight one concept at a time.

If you need space for more copy for bullet points, divide them up among more slides or builds, which creates anticipation for each point.

Simply-designed presentations make it easy for people to follow. Well-timed visual and verbal cues capture audience attention and keep them entertained. And consistency throughout helps to package it all together into the attractive gift of a story that inspires others.

Are there other visual devices that you’ve been able to incorporate to simplify and streamline your presentation message? Flag us down on Twitter at @TypeEd and let us know.


Michael Stinson is a co-founder and instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Get more typography in your inbox when you sign up for more updates about TypeEd.

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

This month’s morsel is about designing for the reader.


When I began my graphic design career, I had no clue how important typography was. I was told early on that the reason I had a job was because of “the content.” If people weren’t reading, my designs weren’t working. No matter how cool the photos were or what type of varnish was used on the cover—if it wasn’t being read, it wasn’t selling our clients’ products and services, and therefore, I was out of a job.

Anyone can make a headline look beautiful, but keep the attention of the reader throughout the body copy so they’ll want to turn the page and read more? That’s your challenge.

As a graphic designer or creative director, you’re designing for the reader; not just for yourself or for the client. Others may try to dictate design choices to suit their own personal tastes, but let’s keep the business goal in mind; persuading a person to act, whether that is to subscribe, purchase, donate, write a letter or so on.

Let’s design for the reader first, then choices on graphic elements such as imagery and color can be implemented afterwards. I tell my students, it’s like designing a car. You’re designing a driving experience so that a person can, first and foremost, drive the car. All the bells and whistles on the dashboard should not deter from that core goal.

Typography is a tool to help readers take information off the page, and that’s if it’s used correctly. The way type is arranged affects how people to read, and, adversely encourage them to avoid reading too. With typography, designers work with all sorts of tools; with grids, picas, glyphs but we also need to know a bit of psychology in order to typeset for the reader.

How to know if you’re encouraging or discouraging readers to read? Here are three steps in which you can set up your design for success:

 

1. First, understand how humans read.

It’s important to understand how humans recognize words and how the brain processes information. Research shows that to a large degree, we read by the shape of the word, rather than letter by letter. Our eyes scan a page in a rapid movement (otherwise known as a saccade), picking up word shapes along the way while our brains convert those forms into meaning.

How fast we saccade is based on our own reading experience, of course, but once we are used to seeing a word, we can instantly recognize the word based on that shape for the rest of our life (this is why logo marks are so memorable).

content_wordshape
The outer shape outlines the unique shape around the ascenders and descenders of a word. The more unique the shape, the easier it is to read. Therefore, type set in all capital letters is a little harder to read. To make all-caps more readable, space out the letters to slow the reader down.

 

2. Provide clues for faster scanning.

A good hierarchical system uses the Gestalt Law of Similarity  to tell the reader which areas to scan to find what they may be looking for. The Law of Similarity, one of the Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization does just that, tells the brain that items that are similar tend to be grouped together.

similarity

If certain visuals look similar, the brain groups together in the similar context. Consistency is important for how we format headers, sub-headers, footnotes and other elements of hierarchy. Choose one typeface, one size, and one style for these items. Change the system, and the brain will perceive it otherwise.

For example, I might choose to set my headers Miller Text Roman Small Caps set in 12 points across a whole document. Once that style is established, then the person reading knows now to jump to each set of text in small caps to read what the next block of copy is about.

 

3. Help people to read more competently.

As a designer, you can actually change the reading experience altogether; slow reading down, speed reading up and so on. Do your readers a favor and help them to read by choosing typefaces that encourage them to keep reading your body copy without distraction.

content_sabon

One way to do this is to choose a typeface that has a little bit of contrast. Monotone, or uniform stroke letterforms are less readable than ones with some level of contrast. A modest variety of width in the strokes, transitions and stress of a letterform helps to inform the eye what the letter is, and provide an immediate identification of the word to the reader. If possible, choose a typeface that has minor to medium contrast. Once letterforms have extreme contrast in strokes and stress, they become difficult to read again.

I hope you’ll design for your audience and encourage your readers to act! Let me know if you have questions about designing for readability on Twitter at @TypeEd.


Michael Stinson is a co-founder and instructor at TypeEd, where he helps designers implement better typography, efficiently. Get more typography in your inbox when you sign up for more updates about TypeEd.

Networking events and industry meet-ups are always being recommended to me as the best way to integrate myself into the community I want to be a part of.

Being a shy thing, on top of being introverted, I find the idea of such shindigs terrifying and unappealing. However, I had a moment of feeling brave and was willing to take some risks in the hope of making some new connections. So I decided to journey down to Sassafras, a bar in Hollywood, for an event supposed to help connect those in the baby ranks of the entertainment industry.

As I walked there, straightening my skirt and tucking wisps of hair behind my ears, I tried to amp myself up: “You can do this. Take it step by step, you don’t have to become best buds with everyone in there. Your goal is to talk to one person. You got this. It’s only one person. Once you get into a one-on-one conversation, you’ll be fine. You can handle this.”

I took some deep breaths as the bouncer checked my ID and I stepped inside the dimly lit two-story room.

And in an instant, I was ready to bolt right back out the door.

The place was stuffed to the gills, humming like the drone of an overactive beehive, and people hung together tightly in clusters with little room for new members. Claustrophobic and easily overwhelmed by massive cacophonous sound, I decided the best strategy was to get to the quiet serenity of a hopefully empty bathroom and to make a real strategy from there.

Heart beating with a mixture of fear and embarrassment, I struggled through the crowds taking over the small aisle between the bar and the wall that led to the restrooms. Once there, questions flooded my mind: “How was I supposed to figure out what cluster of people to join? How do I even nudge myself in? Is there a way to do this not awkwardly? Do I get a drink and hope to meet people at the bar that will invite me to follow them back to their cluster? If that doesn’t work, I can’t stand at against the wall by myself with a drink.”

And then I’m back at the start of trying to spark a conversation with a stranger. I quickly realized a major flaw in my plan had been not bringing someone along who could have at least hung back with me while we navigated these high school clique-esque clusters.

Uncomfortable with any other option, I forced myself back through the fissures between shoulders. I would turn my head about in a last ditch effort to maybe catch a friendly eye, but when my gaze was predictably unreturned, I continued my fight through the crowd until I finally reached the refreshingly free air on the outside of the bar.

“Another time,” I said to myself as I walked back to my car that had only been parked for ten to fifteen minutes at the most. “Or maybe never again.”


Meet Nina, a recent graduate of a liberal arts college, with many passions, interests, and skills…and no job. We invite you to join her (and commiserate) as she struggles through the post-graduate swamp world. A creative at heart, and most likely a mermaid in another life, when she is not at the pool, she can be found writing, reviewing music for The Wild Honey Pie and OurVinyl, making art with her friends, goofing around on Photoshop, cooking, or frolicking amongst foliage while dreaming of how to save the planet from destruction by human hands.

The 2016 World Information Architecture Day (WIAD) is coming up on February 20th, and I am producing this year’s event in Chicago.

[Editor’s Note: This year’s World IA Day is on Saturday, February 18. Visit their website to participate in your area.]

Let me be frank, this is my first rodeo. I have never volunteered to organize anything more than lunch. Last summer, when the call for volunteers came out from the Information Architecture Institute (IAI) I threw my hat in the ring thinking there would be dozens of other, more experienced people, eager to organize WIAD. When I received word that I landed the responsibility I was gobsmacked. But, with the help of friends and colleagues – most notably, Kamaria Campbell and Harrison Williams IV – come hell or high water, WIAD Chicago will happen.

Part of putting on an event like WIAD is searching, asking, convincing and securing sponsors, without whom this free event could not happen. I’ll be the first to admit, asking people for money is not my specialty – even when the money is corporate and not coming from any individual’s personal bank account. When my kids were young and in scouts or summer baseball, I failed miserably at fundraising. Every year, I would invariably end up buying boxes of “The World’s Best Chocolate” myself.

Well, the price tag of putting on an all-day event in downtown Chicago is a bit larger than selling a box of candy bars is going to cover. Larger and more complicated.

The process of getting sponsorship reminds me a bit of the T.V. comedy M*A*S*H (1972 – 1983) in which, members of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital cared for injured Korean War soldiers. (I forgive you if you’re too young to remember the show.) A running gag was how Hawkeye and Trapper John would start an episode in need of something (say, a special tube for the “secret” distillery in their tent), and would have to broker individual favors to and from different characters in order to finally obtain what they desired – all before the closing credits. In my version of the gag, to secure WIAD sponsorship, I’ve had to promise logo placements, opportunities to speak at the event, and in this case, write a blog post for Creative Circle. (Not a bad endeavor given that one of my 2016 goals is writing and publishing more.)

Overall, this has definitely been an experience that has caused me to venture beyond my comfort zone. I’ve been a member of IAI for years and I finally volunteered on projects. It has taken time, effort, and has forced me to push myself but in return, I have experienced more professional growth than many years prior. That is the importance joining a professional organization like the IAI.

Many times, people think they have to join a professional organization because of the usual suspects:

  1. Enhance your network
  2. Take charge of your career
  3. Broaden your knowledge
  4. Find internship and job opportunities
  5. Learn about conferences
  6. Keep up with industry standards

But rather than researching the normal way – via Google, I decided to turn away from the intertubes and ask real people.

James “Mac” McCullough is Dean of the School of Visual Communications at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, Okmulgee (OSUIT for short). When I attended, Mac was one instructor who pushed his students to join and attend the monthly meetings put on by the Art Directors Club of Tulsa.

 “…many times people will join organizations to get new tips, to work with their peers, to have a sense of involvement outside of the confines of the work they do every day, and those are all great reasons to participate. But there is also the idea of putting yourself out there by contributing in both big and small ways to help a cause that you’re passionate about. Professional groups so many times are viewed as just a socializing activity and limited to that by too many of its members. But, if you decide to make it more, [then] that organization might very well be the catalyst for you to stretch your skills, your interests, your capabilities, and that of the organization, to make a real impact in your community and beyond.”

I posed the same question to Abby Covert who, as of this writing, is President of the Information Architecture Institute as well as an Independent Information Architect based in New York City.

“I don’t really see it as networking because I feel like that word is used for making connections that will yield a result (a job, a mentorship etc.) …I see the value of the IAI being much more about connecting to other people that are like-minded, even if you are happy in your job or have the resources you need.

You can have a job in information architecture and work on it every day, but the chances are high that you are still the nerdiest about that topic at your place of employment. The chances are also high that you will be hesitant to get nerdy with your coworkers about I.A. outside your assigned work or domain. The IAI is like a sandbox for meeting other nerds and doing projects that are outside your specialty, context or domain.”

Did you notice?

Turns out, to have an opportunity to be an active contributor is the real reason for joining and the way to get the most out of a professional organization. By joining and contributing to a professional organization, you grow your skills, your network, and your reputation. It’s more than a line on a resume.

Until getting involved – I totally missed the boat.

Don’t do the same. World Information Architecture Day 2016 is coming up this February 20. If you work in the Information Architecture, User Experience, or other related fields, I highly encourage you to register and attend. This could be the start of a great new experience.


Trent is an Information and User Experience Architect in Chicago. A longtime member of IAI, he is currently heading the effort to re-envision IAI’s online library as well as produce the 2016 World IA Day in Chicago.

Trent makes his home in Chicagoland with wife, Violinist, Dr. Gretchen Madson-Sherrell, their three kids, and one (half a dog tall; two dogs long) dachshund.

When not at work, Trent spends his time trying to convince his family that he really is organized and strategic even though he his desk looks like something out of “Hoarders.”

Trent can be engaged via email at trent@tsherrell.com or Twitter @tsherrell.

We know searching for a job is tough. You’ve probably sent your resume to over 100 postings this week alone. You’ve tweaked your cover letters and used the appropriate keywords but you’re sick of sending applications in just to get a generic response – or no response at all.

With the number of job seekers submitting applications, standing out is as important as ever. Focusing on a different direction may change things. We’ve seen our fair share of resumes and portfolios, and can tell you that with some preparation you can be where you want to be. Read below for job search tips that will hopefully inspire you to try a new approach.

Differentiate yourself.

Establishing your personal brand is the single most important thing you can do different. This makes up part of the first impression that hiring managers or recruiters see when they review your application. Look at your personal brand as your own marketing campaign. Think about how you want to be perceived and review your application materials to ensure that the same message is coming across. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality but maintain a consistent presence. Your website, blog, business cards, resume and portfolio should have the same look and feel. This is the first way you can start showing off your skills.

Try this: Choose three words that you want others to associate with you and your brand. Are there certain qualities you want to be known for? Have you thought about your personal mission statement? If you aren’t quite there yet, start analyzing the personal brands of people around you, looking for ways you can improve.

Learn something new.

Take time to brush up on any skills you may be missing while job searching. Educational resources are often free or inexpensive and can be a valuable tool in staying up-to-date. If the courses come with a certification, it’s also something you can add to your resume in order to fill in any gaps. However, creative trends will continue to evolve.

Try this: Familiarize yourself with one new trend a week, whether it’s a new shortcut or a new program. Take the stress off by not committing to becoming an expert – just to learning a little bit more than you knew before.

Meet new people.

It’s easy to focus too much on making the job application perfect but nothing works better than meeting someone face-to-face. Meet ups or similar events in your area may be the best place to network with potential employers and recruiters. Stepping out of your comfort zone will not only boost your confidence but talking with people you’ve never met will also improve your public speaking skills and your elevator speech.

Try this: Commit to ten minutes with each new person you meet. In this short time, practice introducing yourself and what you do. Listen to what the other person does and try to find qualities that you can relate to. How do they present themselves? If you are at an event for an hour, by the time you leave, you’ll have learned at least six new things about yourself and have six more new things to work on based on what you learned from others.

Focus on quality vs. quantity.

Now that you have given your personal brand some thought, focus more on the quality of your resume, instead of the number of resumes you submit. Sending the same resume to 100 job postings a week may not be the best use of your time. Instead, find the positions that are in line with where you want your brand to go and tailor your application to them. Show how your qualities line up with those of the company and the position. The benefit is that you will not only come across as more focused to the hiring manager on the other end, but you will also start honing in on the types of jobs that you really want.

Try this: Narrow down the qualities you are looking for in your ideal job. How do they complement your personal brand? Target jobs that are specific to both your skills and your brand so that the reasons to hire you become that much more obvious.

Stay positive.

Remember why you’re doing all this: to do what you love. Take some time during your job search to create something for yourself. Maybe that’s revamping your portfolio a little bit at a time or maybe it’s creating art for the sake of art. Whatever it is, don’t forget what you love most.

It’s easy to get discouraged but a negative attitude spreads. You want to be your best self when searching for a job, especially when meeting new people. You never know which one could be your next referral. If you are excited about your craft, it will show.

Try this: Do something different today – whether it’s one of the tips from this article or something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Shaking up your routine is the surest way to gain a new perspective and some inspiration. At the very least, you’ll have some fun!

Monthly Typography Tidbits help to feed your typographic hunger and nourish your design output.

This month’s morsel is about typography of resumes.


No matter how busy or slow we are with work at our studio, I’m always looking at resumes. We get a lot of them. But I do not respond to all of them. In fact, I only take the time to respond to possibly one out every 30 that we receive.

Why? Well, what catches my attention is the design of a resume – we are a graphic design firm, after all. If resumes come across looking like they were sparsely typeset in Word, or overly decorated in Photoshop, we do not respond. Not even a thank you. I know it sounds mean but some of the resumes we get are not great.

The goal of a resume is to get the interview so if it’s not read, it’s not getting you in the door.
After discussing candidates’ submissions with other studio owners, hiring managers and creative directors in the design industry, I’ve learned this: Your prospects care about what you can do for their company. If your skills are not demonstrated on the first document you send to an agency, you’re asking them to do too much work in just reading it.

The typography on your resume can work for you but you have to consider the recipient and their reading experience. Remember, you’re beginning a relationship with someone, and that only works if you respect their time. Readability is first, and style is last.

Here are five of the top mistakes that prevent us from reading resumes.

1. Lacking a grid.

Resumes typically lack a balance between white space and content. White space invites the reader in, hints to what the information is and where to find it. Too often, the page is overwhelming. You might want to fill up the page, but don’t. White space is your friend.

To create white space, use a grid and stick to it. If the line lengths are too long, the grid will reveal where to break the content into two or three columns. What’s left is a beautifully structured document with organized information.

Resume Grid Example
The example on the left from ResumeWriters.com might be written well but it’s hard to read due to the large content block and unclear grid. The middle example demonstrates a baseline and column grid with type and elements aligned, and the right image shows the finished resume. Notice how much more white space is apparent after using a grid.

2. Your name is difficult to find.

Although it looks like a resume, it might not initially communicate as one. Many times a candidate’s name is buried in a similar type style as other headers. Use good typography to highlight your name. First and foremost, the document is about you.

3. The copy is unreadable.

I’m not talking about using correct grammar, although that is very important. So many people choose default typefaces: Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica. Give this more thought. Choose a typeface that has a large x-height, character width and little stroke contrast for the best reading experience.

Avoid your system default fonts or you’ll look like the rest of the resumes in the stack. But don’t go overboard either. Ditch the display or decorative fonts for body copy; that just hurts the eyes and prevents reading altogether.

Default Font Examples
The default font Arial or decorative font Bauhaus? Neither are optimal choices, but at least the characters in Arial are easier to identify.

4. No rhyme or reason.

A resume is not usually read from beginning to end, so hierarchy is used as navigation to help find what they’re looking for. Use different styles and weights in your chosen typeface to create emphasis.

Create a typographic system. If headers are all in bold, stay with it. If date ranges are in italic, don’t deviate. You are creating a visual code to help someone read the page. This demonstrates reason for the content formatting.

Typographic System Example
Without a clear hierarchy system, it takes longer to determine which are employers and dates.

5. Style: too much or too little.

Most of the resumes that come in look like they were designed with the designer in mind, instead of the reader. Try this: after you’ve built in the structure, set it so it’s easy to scan, and use a readable typeface, then you add in a little bit of style. Style, like hierarchy, is best implemented as a system.

Let your design elements work with each other. For example, if you use dashed lines or rules to separate content blocks, use them sparingly and consistently. Then use squares for bullet points. And other right angled elements to add a little more detail. You can separate your resume from the generic-looking documents with these consistent touches.

How your resume is presented is just as important as the content. Design considerations can actually make or break your chance to move towards an interview but don’t let the aspiration to get super creative get in the way in your career path. Keep in mind: balance.

Overall, respect your prospect’s time by helping them read your resume and they’ll return the favor by respecting your time and responding, as I have with many candidates on their nice resumes!

Have you mended these missteps in your resume? Please share your refreshed resumes on Twitter, don’t forget to tag @TypeEd. I’d love to know how you’ve best avoided these mistakes!


Rachel Elnar is a co-founder and producer at TypeEd, where she helps designers implement better typography and do so efficiently. Get more type in your inbox and sign up for more about TypeEd.