Skip to main content

General Guidelines on Preparing a Scannable Résumé

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

When required to submit a scannable résumé, you should check with the potential employer regarding specific guidelines. The following are general guidelines to avoid having your résumé overlooked.


  • Note that it is acceptable to have a one-and-a-half to two page résumé.
  • Left justify the entire document.
  • Place your name at the top of the page on its own line.
  • Use standard address format below your name.
  • If you have more than one address, one should be placed on top of the other.
  • List each phone number on its own line.
  • Avoid vertical and horizontal lines, graphics, and boxes/tables.
  • Avoid using special characters such as bullets.
  • Avoid punctuation as much as possible. The computer might not recognize a word with a comma or period after it. If you must have punctuation, be sure it does not touch the word.


  • Use standard serif fonts such as Times New Roman, Courier, and Palatino or sans serif fonts such as Arial, Futura, and Univers.
  • Use a font size of 10 to 12 points.
  • Avoid fancy font styles such as italics, underline, and shadows.
  • Boldface and capital letters are acceptable as long as the letters do not touch each other.
  • Avoid condensing the space between letters because they may touch.
  • Provide white space between words. For example, separate the area code from a phone number with a space rather than parentheses: 555 123 - 4567 (also notice the space before and after the hyphen).


  • Research the industry or position you are interested in to make yourself familiar with the keywords in the particular industry.
  • Use keywords that appear in the job description in describing your qualifications.
  • Use more phrases and nouns than action verbs. For example, instead of writing "designed promotional materials" use a noun such as "promotions designer" or "designer of promotions."
  • Use only those abbreviations that are familiar with your field of study.
  • Create a keyword summary section at the beginning of your résumé.