The following are some generally well-established guidelines for physically presenting your vita. They are meant, essentially, to be invisible, so that what you say is clear, easy to read, and where it should be. If you have an overwhelming reason to modify one of these guides, go ahead. But be wise in this. Making visible what should be invisible in this regard does not usually work in your favor, and comes across more commonly as an error of some sort.
a. Font. Times New Roman, in 12-point size, is a good starting standard.
b. Margins. 1" all around.
DVICE. Do not crowd the page. Remember, this is not a résumé. Take all the space that is necessary and appropriate. This also helps you maintain a visible sense of elegance or style, which is reflective of you.
c. Consistency. Whatever you do, be consistent. For example, if you decide to drop off the periods at the end of entries, drop them off throughout; if you want periods, put them in every time.
d. Spacing. The text entries should generally be single-spaced, with breaks only where appropriate, as when a new heading is called for.
e. Design elements. You might want to include some baselines--that is, margin-to-margin lines--in some places, such as after the addresses and before the body, or some bullets if they are helpful. In general, however, the less clutter the better.
ADVICE. Here is a very useful computer tip: To get a regular, fast, and easy baseline in Word, do the following.
1. First, type three or more hyphens, followed by Enter, to see if you automatically get a full baseline across your page. You may already have the feature engaged. If no baseline appears and only the hyphens remain, proceed to the following steps.
2. Go to "Tools."
3. Go to "AutoCorrect."
4. Go to "AutoFormat As You Type."
5. At "Borders," click a checkmark into the box.
6. Click "Okay" at bottom to exit.
7. Now try typing three or more hyphens in a row again. A baseline should magically appear.
8. This baseline, incidentally, is good only in the document. If you try to cut and paste your document, for example, into Outlook, it will disappear, since it's technically a frame border. This is just information. Otherwise, the baseline works wonderfully well.
"Men have become the tools of their tools."
--Henry David Thoreau
f. Double-siding. Don't do this. Use one side of the paper only. Print on one side of the page continues to be the overwhelmingly standard practice, even if it seems to waste paper. The reasons are still many, but primarily the type on one side of a piece of paper can often show through to the other side, making the document more difficult to read at a time when you need every reasonable advantage. Also, photocopying a double-sided vita, which is often done for a hiring committee, is a real pain for whoever has to do this.
DVICE. Take care of the office staff. They will take care of you. But even before "you," it is simply a nice thing to do. And you do not want to rely on the quality of someone else's photocopier anyway.
g. Spell check. And spell check again. Grammar checking won't be overly helpful here, as you'll be using so many phrases and single words, but spelling and punctuation are absolutely essential. Eccentric punctuation or grammar will not serve you well on a vita. This is not your manuscript.
h. Page numbers. Once your vita goes past one page, you will want add your name and page number on every page thereafter. Using the MLA model for research articles and manuscript presentations, place your name and page number in the upper right hand position on the page, with one space underneath.
i. Currency. Always list your latest experiences or accomplishments first throughout the vita. Use a backward timeline.