NB There’s a new version of this article that you might like – How to edit your CV template.
In this article we show you 8 easy ways to customise your choice of CV template using Microsoft Word. The first two aren’t tweaks as such, but make editing your template a lot easier – especially if it uses tables.
This guide is intended to help you edit one of our CV templates but you may find it useful when editing any Word document that you’ve downloaded online. It’s based on Word 2010 and explains some useful Word features that you might not know about.
1. “Show text boundaries”
This is a super useful feature of Word that I didn’t find out about until recently. In Word 2010 it’s in FILE > OPTIONS > ADVANCED under “Show document content”.
CV templates will either be created using text boxes (which have a fixed position) or tables. We tend to create them using tables as people find them easier to manipulate, especially if they want to add more content or an additional page. However, only bits of the tables will have borders, depending on the design – so you can’t always see where they are. Sometimes none will have borders.
If you enable “show text boundaries” you’ll be able to see where all of those hidden tables are, but those boundaries don’t show when you print the file or save it as a PDF. They make working with the CV templates a lot simpler.
2. Show the Gridlines
Did you even know that Word had gridlines, a bit like a drawing programme? In Word 2010, these are under the VIEW tab, in the SHOW Section (Ruler, Gridlines and Navigation Pane are there). This outputs a grid onto your page which won’t show up when you’re printing or saving the file. The gridlines make it much easier to drag around shapes and text boxes with confidence, so you know everything is lined up.
3. Change the letter spacing
You can add spacing to letters to make a fancier title. For example:
To do this, under the Home tab in Word, click the tiny arrow underneath Font to bring up the Font menu. Then click the ADVANCED tab and choose SPACING > EXPANDED. Add a value in the “By” box (e.g. 3pt).
4. Give text a background colour
To give the text a coloured or shaded background like in the photo above, highlight the text and click on the paint bucket under Paragraph in the Home tab:
You can then select your choice of text background. The font spacing and text background colour are a really easy way to make attractive headings for your CV.
5. Add or edit a page border
You’ll notice lots of our CVs have page borders and these are really easy to adjust. You’ll find the page border button under PAGE LAYOUT in the PAGE BACKGROUND section.
Here’s an example of the settings for a thick black page border all the way around the page:
The second window is really important – this appears when you click OPTIONS underneath “apply to: whole document”. If you don’t adjust this window, your border will appear a little way in to the page. This is probably better for home printing, but won’t look as smart as an edge-to-edge border. The key is on the Border and Shading Options window (above right) to reduce the Margin to 0pt and make sure under “Measure From” it says “Edge of Page”.
6. Add in drop caps
Drop caps are an easy way to make your CV look super swanky! They look really good with fonts like Times New Roman and Garamond. In Word 2010 you’ll find them under the INSERT tab, in the TEXT section. Simply highlight the drop cap and click the button.
Note that there are twp options – Dropped or In Margin. You can see how the difference works with other text here: Your choice really depends on what other text is going on the page.
Unfortunately the Drop Caps feature doesn’t play nicely with Text Boxes or Tables so you have to break text out from those to be able to use the feature.
7. Insert a text box
MS Word 2010 comes with a range of text boxes and our favourite is the Braces Quote. This is a super way to insert a quote from one of your references into your CV template, or to add in a key achievement. You’ll find this feature under INSERT > TEXT > TEXT BOX:
Once you’ve inserted your quote, you might want to customise how it looks. You can drag it to the position you want it on the page and then double click to bring up the drawing tools menu. To change the colour of the brackets, select SHAPE OUTLINE and choose a different colour. To change the colour of the text, simply highlight the text, click on the home menu and choose your font style and colour as normal. Don’t feel confined to choosing the same font face, colour or size as the rest of your template!
8. Insert a rounded CV photo
The jury’s still out on whether a photo should be included on your CV or not. Generally it’s more acceptable in the US than the UK but a professional head shot that shows your employer you are well-presented is unlikely to cause any harm, wherever you are in the world. See our article ‘Should I include a CV photo?‘ for a consideration of the pros and cons.
Let’s assume you’ve decided to include a CV photo – how do you get those nice round pictures that we always use in our templates?
- First, save your headshot as a square pic, somewhere you can find it (like the Desktop!)
- Under the INSERT tab, click SHAPES and choose OVAL.
- Draw a circle, holding down SHIFT as you do (to make sure it’s even).
- Click on the circle and you’ll see the ‘Drawing Tools’ tab appear at the top. Click the tiny arrow to open up the ‘Format Picture’ dialogue.
- In that dialogue under FILL, click PICTURE OR TEXTURE FILL and then click the FILE button underneath.
- Choose your CV pic and click INSERT. Your pic will now appear in the circle.
You can add a border to the circle by clicking on it again to bring up the Drawing Tools menu. The option you need is SHAPE OUTLINE – from there you can choose the colour and weight, and you can even decide between a solid border and dots/dashes:
We hope you find the above 8 tips useful when customising your choice of CV template and don’t forget, we’ve got a whole free CV template collection to choose from, so you might find the perfect CV with no need for customising at all!