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The internet is full of resume templates, ranging from free to expensive 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. And regardless of what you may have heard, Google Docs has plenty of features to make beautifully modern documents, and is the perfect pick to build your next resume.
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use Google Docs to make a great looking resume, which you can preview at this link. Do note that since a web app, you'll need to be online in any modern browser—I'd recommend Google Chrome—to complete this tutorial.
Start With a Header
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, start with a new blank document (File > New > Document). If you plan to print this document later on, 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.
When designing this resume, we will go from the top to the bottom of the page, which means that the first thing will be the header with the 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, but Google Docs does not support multiple columns—we have to find another way. Just like in the good old days of webdesign, we will use tables to accomplish this task.
Select menu Insert > Table and select table size 2x1 as shown on the screenshot below.
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.
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 dropdown menu.
It would be great to have the name in some more distinctive font, but the default list is intended for body text. To have the access to more fonts, open the font dropdown menu again and select More fonts item.
In there, 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, a 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.
Change the font for the name to the Arvo and increase the size to 30 pt from the font size dropdown menu.
To make also 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, but it is just thanks to good luck, and you'd have to tweak the font size to get it perfect for your name and title.
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.
Select the whole table, and select Table > Table properties.
In the dialog, set the Tableborder to 0 pt, to make the borders invisible.
Here is how our resume looks so far. We were able to accomplish two columns of the text, even when this function is not supported. Quite a success, right?
A Horizontal Divider Below the Header
To visually separate the header from the rest of the page, we will add a divider. We can select Insert > Horizontal line, but there is no way how to customize this line. We have to use a different method instead.
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 a 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.
Once you have enough symbols, select them and change the font color to Light Cornflower Blue 1 from the color dropdown menu. Try to remember this colors name, as we will use the very same color also for the other elements later.
A Resume Body
For the body of the resume, we also need two columns. The technique is still the same—select Insert > Table and set it to 2x1 size.
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.
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.
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.
If you already have the 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 resume. 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 How to OCR Documents for Free in Google Drive.
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.
As usual, select the whole table and select 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.
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.
Now it is a perfect time to look at the middle column more closely. We want to have some kind of timeline, with a markers 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, as they have a different heights. A much better solution would be to use a special symbols. Select Insert > Special characters.
In the dialog, 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.
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 a Line Spacing and set it to Single.
The very small gaps between the lines are caused by the different font rendering, and 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 a slightly different than what you see on the screen. Those tiny gaps between the lines are perfect example. If you want to be sure the output will look perfect, you can quickly export a .pdf file using File > Download as > PDF Document and check the visual appearance during the creation. A .pdf file will look exactly the same on any device using any viewer application.
Our timeline looks good, but it is maybe too much visible. We can select all the line symbols, and change the color to light gray using the text color dropdown menu.
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.
For the first line of each work experience, we can change the font to Bold and set the same blue color as we have used for the divider on the top of the page.
Here is how our resume looks so far. We keep the borders of the tables visible to make the editing easier, but once we are done, we will make them invisible just like we did for the header.
A Right Column—Education and Profile
It looks like we have still a lot of work ahead, but the right side will be much quicker, as we will reuse some parts already created. Select the whole left part of the table and copy it into the clipboard using the Ctrl-C (Command-C on a Mac) shortcut.
Move the cursor into the right cell, and paste it using the Ctrl-V shortcut.
Change the label above the table to “Education”, and insert or type 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.
Keep the rows selected, and select Table > Delete row function.
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 Space in Between the Columns
Looking at the 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 ruin the layout.
We indeed have three columns, but the middle one is too big and the other two are too small.
Drag the borders on each side of the middle column to make it smaller, just like shown on the picture below. Now everything looks perfect.
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.
If you have done everything right, the resume should look like this.
A Divider on the Bottom of the Page
The very last touch would be to add a thicker divider on the bottom of the page. This time we will use a different method.
Select Insert > Table and select table sized 1x1 cells.
Open the table properties, set the Table border to 0 pt, Cell backgroundcolor to blue and Cell padding to 0.
To change the table height, simply adjust the font size inside this table. Make it as small as possible, that is 6 pt.
And that´s it! Zoom out your document to see the whole page and double check everything.
Exporting the Document as a .pdf File
Once you are satisfied with your result, select File > Download as > PDF Document, and save the file to your computer. Or, if you'd rather export in other formats, check out our tutorial on Exporting Documents From Google Docs. 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, and for the most part, it's best to use PDF format to guarantee your resume will look the same on any computer.
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 Everything You Need to Know about Sharing in Google Docs.
Now, all that's left is to send your resume to the employer of your dreams, and you will automatically get the job. Well, maybe.
The tutorial ends here, but you should not. Try to experiment a little bit. What about using a different fonts, colors or dot symbol instead of the cross? Those changes can make your resume very unique looking, and they are very easy to do. Go for it and be sure to post your creations in the comments!