Punctuation Tips for Your Resume


Punctuation tips

Resume punctuation: Tips & best practices

“Are there specific punctuation rules for a resume?” you might wonder. Many job-seekers think “As long as I start the sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period, there's nothing to worry about”. However, this isn't always the case.

Although punctuation errors aren't global deal-breakers, correct punctuation demonstrates such personality traits of an applicant as attention to detail, ability to follow complex instructions, and consistency. It would be silly to miss the opportunity to show yourself in the best light, wouldn't it?

So, open the resume in a word processor and re-read it two, three or five times until you're 100% sure there are no punctuation errors. Here's a guide to make this task easier for you.

Resume punctuation marks and how to use them

Resume punctuation to use

Resume punctuation to avoid

  • Period
  • Hyphens
  • Colons
  • Semicolons
  • Commas
  • Bullet points
  • Question marks
  • Exclamation marks
  • Emoji
  • Special symbols


Should you use resume periods? It is surprising how a simple period often gets misused on resumes. The top 3 period errors made on resumes include:

  • Two spaces after a period
  • Using a period at the end of each line (and especially when the line has the phrase, not the full sentence)
  • Omitting a space after a period.

So, how to use period right? Here's one of the solutions. Use periods just like if you did in sentences except for bullet points. A list with bullet points can go without periods at the end of each line; the last line ends with a period.


As per the rules, hyphens are used in compound adjectives before a noun, for example, a hard-working individual. If you have two adjectives modifying the same words, like mid- and senior-level managers, the hyphen is used after the first.

Again, be consistent. If you use ‘detail-oriented' in a summary and your job description has ‘detail oriented' without the hyphen, it destroys the good impression completely. (Plus, hiring managers will see that you are not as detail-driven as you think you are).


Colons are generally used to separate two clauses when the second clause is related to the first. “Language proficiency: Fluent in Spanish and French” is an example of the correct use of colons.


Semicolon is a useful piece of punctuation if used correctly. The basic rule is as follows: semicolons usually separate two clauses when the second clause isn't directly related to the first. You can also use it to separate elements that already have commas.

Here's the example: ‘Advanced user of MS Office, Excel, PowerPoint; Mac OS; and QuickBooks'. However, if you are hesitating whether to use a semicolon, it's better to rewrite the text to avoid them. Semicolons used incorrectly are a turn-off as they make an impression of sloppiness and poor writing skills.


A comma can easily mess up the meaning of the sentence if used incorrectly. First of all, it's recommended to use serial commas, or Harvard commas (a comma before the final ‘and' in a series), as it helps to clarify the meaning of the sentence and avoid confusions. Secondly, put the comma between two independent clauses (check grammar rules for reference). Again, omitting the comma between clauses can completely change the meaning of what you are trying to say.

Although these are not all grammar rules applicable for resume writing, they can be a good start for quality proofreading of your resume. If you are not sure of your language skills and are looking for affordable resume proofreading, our experts can come at hand.


Use resume bullet points, not paragraphs, to list your achievements and job duties. With bullet points, your resume is easier to read and convenient to look through. Use a capital letter at the beginning of each bullet point.

Nobody writes job descriptions in paragraphs anymore, as they are bulky, and busy hiring managers have no time to read them carefully to understand the key points. In bulleted lists, they can look through the descriptions and find key info without reading each complete statement.

When using resume bullet points, choose one type of bullet (bullet, triangular bullet, or hyphen) and stick to it throughout the document. It will make your resume look neat and organized, as the different forms of bullets won't distract the reader from the main thing – your resume content.


Correct capitalization makes your letter look structured and showcases your strong writing correspondence skills. Here is exactly what to capitalize in your resume and cover letter:

• Proper names - Capitalize company names and the name of the hiring manager you are addressing in a cover letter. If you don't know who will be reading the letter, write “Dear Hiring Manager” starting each word with a capital letter.

• Beginning of the sentences – use capitals at the beginning of every one sentence.

• Job titles – capitalize each word in full job title, for example “I am writing to apply for Senior Product Manager role”.

• Names of software and technologies – Adobe Photoshop, Google Suite, Agile and Scrum. If you use a bulleted list for skills, capitalize the first letter of each skill, too.

• Words that convey important information - such as the department name, the name of the award you've received, etc.

• Other details according to English capitalization rules – proper nouns, date ranges (May 2018 – June 2019) holidays, cities/states, and more.

Keep in mind that the excessive use of capitalization kills the effect and makes the resume look pretentious.

Using spaces on a resume

Use one space after a period, comma, or other punctuation mark. Avoid spaces before elements of punctuation and, of course, don't put more than one space between words. Incorrect use of spaces make the document look sloppy.

Leave some white space between the lines for better readability. Add one line before each resume section so that the sections are easy to distinguish.

Exclamation and question marks

Even if you are very interested and excited, keep the tone strictly professional and avoid these marks. The same rule applies to cover letters. Do not use any emoticons and special symbols.

To punctuate or not to punctuate your bulleted lists?

Bullet points work great for listing your professional duties and accomplishments. They focus the reader's attention in a glance and help you get noticed. However, many job-seekers question if they need to use dots at the end of each accomplishment when using bullets.

General consensus recommends using bullets if your accomplishments sound like complete sentences. In this case, using a dot after each sentence in bullet points makes perfect sense. Moreover, career coaches recommend avoiding incomplete sentences whatsoever. Add context to your job duties and achievements so that they sound like full sentences.

Whatever way of punctuation you choose (with or without periods at the end of each complete sentence, stick to it throughout the document. Otherwise, you'll make an impression of carelessness.

Proofread before you submit the resume

To rest assured that your resume is punctuated accurately and consistently, proofread it before using it in your job hunt. You may use an online spell checker to spot common resume mistakes, such as missed Oxford commas or a wrong verb tense.

However, to make sure that your resume can impress hiring managers, proofread in manually anyway. Print it on paper for better readability and carefully look through words and punctuation marks. What is even better, show your resume to a trusted friend or a professional editor to be confident about your resume punctuation.

At ResumePerk, we offer in-depth resume editing at only $56. An experienced editor will check grammar, punctuation, and other mistakes in your resume to maintain consistency. Plus, we will improve the word choice, and skills, and add a captivating Summary section so that your document positions you for the chosen career in seconds.

How to punctuate your cover letter?

After you've ensured the proper punctuation in a resume, check the punctuation in your cover letter, too. A cover letter shows your business writing skills to employers, so be super careful about it. Make sure that all past duties and achievements go in the past tense, each proper noun is capitalized, and there are no sentence fragments in your letter.

The bottom line

There are so many views on the rules of punctuation for resume, and sometimes the opinions contradict. However, it's you who will choose the punctuation rules for your resume to make it attractive and easier to read. You can modify these rules – but do it consistently! Again, if you've written ‘co-workers' once, preserve this way of writing throughout the document. Otherwise, you'll look as a person who failed to do a simple proofreading prior to sending the document in.

Strengthen your resume with professional proofreading

Even if English is your first language and you know how to punctuate resume bullet points, you still can overlook something. Don't leave the quality of your resume to a chance. An experienced editor will check each bullet point and line to ensure proper punctuation and a polished, professional impression on your target employers. Order professional editing with a 20% discount - try today!

Can the punctuation ‘make or break' the success of your resume? What do you think?

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