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How to Make a Professional Resume in Google Docs

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

The internet is full of resume templates, ranging from free to professional templates with both ugly and great ones in each category. While there are also templates for Google Docs available, there is no better feeling than creating something from scratch and on your own.

Regardless of what you may have heard, Google Docs has plenty of features to make beautiful, modern documents with. It's the perfect too to use to build your next resume with. 

In this tutorial, I'll show you how make a resume in Google Docs with a professional design. We'll make a great looking resume from scratch, and cover an easy to follow workflow from start to finish. Before we begin, you can preview the final resume design that we'll be creating. 

Do note that since Google Docs is a web app, you'll need to be online in any modern browser—I'd recommend Google Chrome—to complete this tutorial.

1. Start Your Google Docs Resume With a Header

To create a resume with Google Docs, first open your internet browser and go to https://docs.google.com. If you do not have a Google account, you will need to create one—it's free, and will just take a few seconds to signup.

Once you're signed in, open Google Docs and start with a new blank document (File > New > Document). If you plan to print this document later, it may be a good idea to select File > Page Setup and set the paper size to A4 or Letter depending on your location. The difference in the actual size is quite minor, but it can cause problems when printing. You can keep the margins default to 1 inch on every side.

Starting with a blank document
Start with a blank document.

When designing this Google Docs resume, we will go from the top to the bottom of the page, which means that the first thing will be the header. It will include your name and the address (and optionally other contacts such as email, your personal website, or social media profiles like Twitter). 

We want to have the name and the address next to each other,  Google Docs supports up to three columns in a document, but for this resume project we need more. Just like in the good old days of early web design, we will use tables to accomplish this task

Select menu Insert > Table and select table size 2x1 as shown on the screenshot below.

Inserting a new table to start your Google docs resume
Inserting a new table into your new Google docs resume. 

Right after inserting a table, grab the middle divider between the cells and move it more to the right to make the second column much smaller. The actual size is not that important as we will most likely tweak it later.

Resizing the columns
Resizing columns in Google Docs.

Type the name into the first cell, and the address into the second one. Select both cells and change the font to Droid Sans from the font drop-down menu.

Setting a different font face
Setting a different font face.

It would be great to have your name in some more distinctive font, but the default list is intended for body text. To gain access to more fonts, open the font dropdown menu again and select the More fonts option.

Selecting the More fonts option
Selecting the More fonts option.

On the drop-down menu that opens, the list of available fonts is much larger. Select, for example, the Arvo font, and click OK to add it into the font drop-down menu. 

With so many nice-looking fonts, you may want to add more than just one, but remember that it is better to keep the font count to a minimum. For our resume, two fonts will be enough—one for the heading and one for the body text. We can still use different sizes, colors, and bold or italic variants.

Adding the Arvo font into the font list
Adding the Arvo font into the font list.

Change the font for the name to the Arvo and increase the size to 30 pt from the font size drop-down menu.

Setting a different font size
Setting a different font size.

To make the second line more visible, set the font to Arvo as well and make it Bold. Now both lines have almost the same width, which looks nice. Note: You can tweak the font size to get it perfect for your name and title though.

Setting a font for the header part
Setting a font for the resume header section.

Since we already have text in a second cell, we can change its size so that the right edge of the text is aligned with the right side of the page. This will create a visual guideline even when we get rid of the table borders later.

Resizing the columns to create visual guidelines
Resizing the resume header columns to create visual guidelines.

Now select the whole table, and then select Table > Table properties.

Selecting table properties
Select table properties

In the dialog box, set the Tableborder to 0 pt, to make the borders invisible.

Setting a table border to 0 pt to make it invisible
Setting a table border to 0 pt makes it invisible.

Here is how our Google Docs resume looks so far. We have two columns of text:

Quick preview of what we have so far
Quick preview of what we have so far.

Let's continue with how to make a resume on Google Docs, moving on to design additional sections of your resume.

2. Insert a Horizontal Line Divider Below the Header

To visually separate the header from the rest of the page, we'll now add a divider. We can simply select Insert > Horizontal line, but there is no way to customize this line. We have to use a different method instead.

Here's another method of how to make a horizontal line in Google Docs. Instead we'll select Insert > Special characters, and select Geometric Shapes

This section contains a lot of characters for creating tables which we will use later, together with lines in various widths. Select symbol Lower One Eight Block, click Insert, and copy paste this character using the Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V shortcuts to fill the entire line.

Adding a special character from the Geometric Shapes section
Insert a special character from the Geometric Shapes section for your horizontal line.

Once you have enough symbols, select them and change the font color to Light Cornflower Blue 1 from the color drop-down menu. Try to remember this colors name, as we will use the very same color for the more elements later.

Setting a different color for the divider
Setting a different color for the Google Docs horizontal line divider.

3. Insert Your Google Docs Resume Body

Now we'll move onto the next step of how to make a resume in Google Docs and focus on the body. For the body of your resume, we also need two columns. The technique is still the same—select Insert > Table and set it to 2x1 size.

Adding a new table
Adding a new table to Google Docs.

We do not want the table to affect the margins. Select Table > Table properties, and in the dialog, set the Cell padding to 0. This way we still get two columns, but no extra space around from the inside.

Setting a Cell padding to 0 pt to remove unnecessary space
Set the Cell padding to 0 pt to remove unnecessary space.

4. How to Add a Work Experience Section

Keep the text cursor in the first cell of the newly created table, and add another table inside this table. This table will be used to display your work experience. Select Insert > Table, and this time, set the size to 3x4 cells. Why this size? 

The three columns will be used for each work experience to display year, helper graphics and an actual text. We need four rows for four different jobs. You may create more or less rows depending on your needs.

Adding a new table for the work experience section
Adding a new table for the resume work experience section

As you can see below, we have a smaller table inside a larger one. Before adjusting this small table, it may be a good idea to add a caption. Simply type the word “Experience”, and change the font to Arvo, sized 14 pt.

Adding a caption for the table
Add a caption for the table.

If you already have your resume text prepared, you can copy and paste it into this table. If not, it may be a good time to think about what to include in your Google Docs resume. From resume design templates to step-by-step guides of what to include on your resume—our Envato Tuts+ series on creating resumes has plenty of tutorials to help.

In some rare cases, you may have your old resume printed without the source file available. In that case, be sure to check the tutorial:

When typing or copying the text, the first column should contain the time period and the third column should be filled with the description of the work.The middle column should stay empty for now.

Filling the table with the text
Fill the table with your resume work experience text.

As usual, select the whole table, then Table > Table properties, and set the Cell padding to 0. This way there will be no extra space inside, but we still have three columns of text.

Setting Cell padding to 0 pt
Set the the Cell padding to 0 pt in Google Docs.

Drag the borders in between the cells to make the right column as big as possible, to make sure we keep the whole table only on the first page. The middle column can be quite small, as shown on the picture below:

Resizing the columns to make the third column as wide as possible
Resize the columns to make the third column as wide as possible

Now it's a perfect time to look at the middle column more closely. We want to have a timeline, with a marker for each date. The timeline should be made of lines, where the markers could be big plus symbols.

Google Docs allows you to insert a drawing, but we would have to update it for each cell, since they have different heights. A much better solution would be to use special symbols. Select Insert > Special characters.

Insert special characters
Insert special characters in Google Docs.

In the dialog box, select Geometric Shapes, and locate the line and cross symbols. Insert them into the middle column—if you look closely at the screenshot below, the text cursor is in the middle cell.

Insert line and cross symbols
Insert line and cross symbols.

Keep only one instance of the cross symbol, but copy and paste the line multiple times until this middle cell is larger than the right one. To have the lines without any additional spacing and next to each other, select Line Spacing and set it to Single.

Filling the cell with the line symbols
Filling the cell with the line symbols.

If you have very small gaps between the lines, they are caused by the different font renderings. They will not be presented in a final PDF file. However, they do not look good in here. One way to solve this issue is to select those symbols and set them to Bold.

As mentioned above, keep in mind that the visual appearance of the final PDF file may look slightly different than what you see on the screen. Those tiny gaps between the lines are a perfect example. 

If you want to be sure the resume output file will look perfect, you can quickly export a .pdf file using File > Download as > PDF Document and check the visual appearance during the creation. What's great about a PDF file is that it will look exactly the same on any device, using any viewer application.

Checking the appearance of the exported pdf file
Checking the appearance of the exported resume PDF file.

Our timeline looks good, but it's maybe too visible. We can select all the line symbols, and change the color to light gray, using the text color drop-down menu.

Setting a different color for the line symbols
Set a different, lighter color for the line symbols.

Once we are satisfied with the result, we can copy and paste those symbols into all cells in the middle column. Using a menu on the top, set a Center align for the middle column, and a Right align for the left column.

Setting a different text align
Set different text alignments in your Google Docs resume.

For the first line of each work experience, we can change the font to Bold Droid Sans and set the same blue color as we have used for the divider on the top of the page.

Tweaking the graphic appearance of the work details
Tweaking the graphical appearance of the work details.

Here is how our Google Docs resume looks so far. We keep the borders of the tables visible to make the editing easier, but once we're done, make them invisible just like we did for the header.

A quick preview of what we have so far
A quick preview of how our Google Docs resume looks so far.

5. Insert a Right Column For Your Education and Profile

It looks like we still a bit of work ahead, but the right side will be much quicker, as we'll reuse some parts already created. Now select the whole left part of the table and copy it into the clipboard using the Ctrl-C (Command C on a Mac) shortcut.

Selecting and copying the first column
Select and copying the first column

Move the cursor into the right cell, and paste it using the Ctrl-V shortcut.

Pasting the copied column
Paste the copied column in your Google Doc.

Change the label above the table to “Education”, and insert or type in the appropriate data. In our example, I have used only the first two rows. For that reason, I have selected the content of the other two rows, and deleted the text using the Delete key. However, the cells are still there.

Deleting unnecessary text
Deleting unnecessary text.

Keep the rows selected, and select the Table > Delete row function.

Deleting unnecessary rows
Deleting unnecessary rows from your Google Docs resume.

Finally, we can copy and paste the caption above the table one more time, change it to “Profile” and add some plain text as shown below:

Adding a profile section
Adding a profile section to your resume.


6. Add a Space in Between the Columns

For this step in how to make a resume in Google Docs we'll add another section and fix a spacing issue.

Looking at the Google Docs resume preview above, you may realize that the space between the work experience table and profile text is very small. It would be great to know this right from the beginning, but even now, the update should not take a long time.

Place the cursor somewhere over the “Experience” label, and select Table > Insert column right. Warning: do not be scared, this will temporarily ruin the layout, as we'll cover how to fix that.

Adding a space between the columns
Adding a space between the columns.

We indeed have three columns, but the middle one is too big and the other two are too small.

New empty column in between
New empty column in between.

Drag the borders on each side of the middle column to make it smaller, just like shown in the picture below (now everything looks perfect.):  

Adjusting the size of the middle column
Adjusting the size of the middle column to fix the layout.

Select the work experience table, and select Table > Table properties. In here, set the Table border to 0 pt to make it invisible. Repeat the process for both the education table and the main table.

Setting the Table border to 0 pt to make it invisible
Set the table border to 0 pt to make it invisible.
If you've done everything right, your resume should look like this.

A quick Google Docs resume preview of what we have so far
A quick preview of our Google Docs resume so far.

7. Add a Divider on the Bottom of the Page

The very last touch is to add a thicker divider on the bottom of the page. This time we'll use a different method.

Select Insert > Table and select table sized 1x1 cells.

Adding a new table for the bottom divider
Adding a new table for the bottom divider on your resume.

Open the table properties, set the Table border to 0 pt, Cell background color to blue and Cell padding to 0.

Setting various properties for the table
Setting various properties for the Google Docs table.

To change the table height, simply adjust the font size inside this table. Make it as small as possible, which is 6 pt. You may have to type 6 into the font box, since the drop-down menu options start at 8.

Changing the font size to change the table height
Changing the font size to change the table height in your Google Docs resume.

And that´s it! Zoom out your document to see the whole page and double check everything:

A preview of your finished Google Docs resume
A preview of your finished Google Docs resume.

8. How to Export the Document as a PDF File

Once you are satisfied with your result, name your document. Then, select File > Download as > PDF Document, and save the file to your computer.

Exporting a Google Doc Resume as a pdf document
Exporting a Google Doc Resume as a .pdf document

Or, if you'd rather export in other formats, check out our tutorial:

If you do save the resume in another format, though, be sure to open it on your computer to make sure it looks the same as it did in Google Docs. To discover which resume format is best, review the Tuts+ article:

The second option is to directly share the file which you have created. For more information about this topic, be sure to check the tutorial:

With a professional resume design in hand, now all that's left is to send it off to the employer of your dreams. Good luck on landing the new position you apply to. 

Conclusion

Now that we've explained how to make a resume in Google Docs, you're ready to go.

The tutorial ends here, but you should not. Try to experiment a little bit. What about using a different font, colors or dot symbol instead of the cross? Those changes can make your resume unique looking, and they are very easy to do. Go for it and be sure to post your creations in the comments!

Editorial Note: This post was originally published in 2014. It has been comprehensively revised to make current, accurate, and up to date by our staff—with special assistance from Laura Spencer.

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