With the rise of new communication technologies, there are multiple ways of sending your CV to recruiters. Even though sending a paper version by post still occurs, more and more CVs are sent via e-mail. Large organisations increasingly request that you submit your CV in an electronic format by e-mail or via a web-based system. A lot of online jobsites also offer the opportunity of posting CVs online. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of CV formats; a paper-based one and a web-based one.

Paper-based CVs

Even though you will often read that paper-based CVs should be limited to one page, this is not necessarily the case. A well-structured two-page document is easier to glance through than a crammed one-pager. Remember that readability comes first.

Go to the structure section for more information about the internal organisation of the document. This section will tell you more about the format.

A paper version

The paper-based CV is the traditional document, written with a word-processor and with an attractive and easily readable document design. You can use formats to stress information, but do not go over the top. Keep it simple and professional and remember the following guidelines.

  • Don't put the words "Curriculum vitae" on the top of your CV. This is stating the obvious.
  • Use consistent headings. They should all be the same font and size. Don't underline your headings.
  • Leave plenty of whitespace and use it to separate different groups of information. The size of the gap between information tells the reader that things closer together are related.
  • Use the same font throughout. Use "neutral" fonts like Arial or Times New Roman with a font size in between 10 and 14.
  • Do not use both sides of the paper.
  • Use a high-quality laser printer and print on high-quality white paper.
  • Do not use colour or illustrations. Only include a photo when asked for.
  • Make sure your document is free of typing errors.

A scannable version

A scannable CV is still word-processed, but without formatting. This type of CV is used when recruiters run your paper CV through a scanner, which transforms it into a digital document. In this case a computer scans your document and automatically searches for keywords. The OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology cannot cope with italics, underlining, lines or tables. Bulleted lists are probably the only formatting you can use.

  • Use a standard font such as Arial, Verdana or Times and avoid small print.
  • Do not underline. Use bold print to stress something.
  • Do not use a column structure.
  • The CV should be printed in high quality on regular white unstapled paper.

Below you will find an excerpt of a scannable chronological CV. For more information on how to prepare a scannable CV visit the Quintessential careers website.

John Williams
87 Portland Street
Edinburgh, EH12 9DN
Scotland, UK
Telephone: 0161 234 5000


  • motivated expert of international cargo trade
  • strong analytical mind and
  • efficient communication skills

Employment history

2004 to date

Junior cargo trade manager

BAA Edinburgh Airport

  • analysed and improved trade with US partners
  • Edinburgh cargo trade representative in BAA meetings
  • co-author of business report 2005
  • currently developing new business plan for pan-Atlantic trade

Web-based CVs

Many recruiters will accept or ask for a paper-based CV sent as an attachment. For these documents, the paper-based rules apply. Remember that sending your CV as a Word-file might cause the layout to change. Transforming your word-file into a pdf solves this problem.

Many jobsites allow for electronic CVs. Employers use the search function on these sites to look for the ideal candidate, so remember to integrate important keywords in your online CV.

For some vacancies you'll find that an employer asks you to complete an online application form. Many people feel tempted to fill these in immediately without giving them much care but it is important to remember that online application forms can be the only contact you'll have with an employer before the interview. Therefore; consider them like you would a "normal" CV. Think about what to write, how to write it and in which order. If possible, copy the form into a word processing file and post it online after having considered it thoroughly.


In order to increase professional mobility within Europe, the EU has designed a universally recognised CV, called Europass. The format is easy to use and logically divided into separate sections.