How to Choose the Best Spelling of Resume

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When applying to jobs, the word ‘resume’ might appear as different spellings with and without accent marks. Understanding the best way to spell it and maintaining a consistent spelling choice is important when communicating with employers. Learn about the three different spellings of the word ‘resume’ and how to choose the best spelling.

Should you use résumé?

This spelling of the word ‘resume’ comes from the French language and means ‘summary’. While this spelling is proper, it is slightly less easy to read and not as common in the English language. However, it is more popularly used in a more formal academic and linguistic context. This type of spelling follows the language tradition of leaving accents in loan words. A loan-word is a word adopted from a foreign language that is modified slightly or remains as is.

The Oxford Dictionary Online considers résumé to be the more acceptable form of spelling, as does the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary. The Essential American English Dictionary considers résumé as an acceptable spelling, along with the unaccented ‘resume’. However, the double-accented spelling may be viewed as hypercorrect, so pay attention to the context of the rest of your content and the type of conversation you are having.

Should you use resumé?

This spelling of the word resume is considered the least common and is least accepted in the English language. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary does include both accented spellings, ‘résumé’ and ‘resumé’ and the unaccented spelling ‘resume’. However, the dictionary considers ‘resumé’ with one accent a secondary version, and not as recognized as the double-accented and unaccented versions.

The reason for using this version of spelling is that it helps differentiate the word resume, a brief skills and experience summary, from the verb ‘to resume’ which means ‘to continue.’ It also helps new English speakers correctly pronounce the word, with the ‘e’ at the end having a long ‘a’ sound like in the word may.’ Many English words end with a silent ‘e’ just like the verb ‘resume’, so the accent can be helpful.

However, if you intend to use an accent on the last ‘e’ it makes sense to just use ‘résumé’ with double accents. Also, note that an accent on only the first ‘e’ as ‘résume,’ exists only in the French language and the single accent must only go on the last ‘e’ for English.

Should you use resume?

This spelling of resume is the most common and widely used version. While the word resume is a loan-word, it has been a part of the English language long enough to evolve. Spelling ‘resume’ without accents is more natural and the standard version for both the U.S and Canada. It follows the normal English rule of omitting accents of adopted foreign words. This version is the most practical because it does not contain special characters that can convert to other symbols across files. For example, ‘résumé’ could turn into ‘r?sum?’.

The only intricacy to note is that spelling ‘resume’ with no accents makes it appear also as the verb ‘to resume,’ so it’s important that the content surrounding the word puts it into context for readers. When applying to a job, searching for help writing a resume and using the word in other career-related contexts, it should be clear to employers and search engines which form of ‘resume’ you are using.

How to choose the best resume spelling

If you are unsure of which spelling of resume to use, consider following these steps:

1. First, follow the employer’s lead

Pay attention to how the employer spells ‘resume’ in their job description or communication with you. You may want to use the same spelling. While your own choice of spelling should be fine, this helps keep communication consistent.

2. Second, consider the document type

Sometimes, employers will request you to send a resume as a plain text document, or paste it directly into an email in plain text. Plain text means the text is unformatted and only supports the characters you see on your keyboard (ASCII language). Since accents are special characters, they will more than likely turn into other characters and jumbled symbols when converted to plain text, so you should only use the unaccented version of ‘resume’.

If you are sending your resume as a PDF, which most companies can easily open, you can keep the accents because the PDF will retain its formatting, if that’s the style you choose to use.

3. Lastly, keep it simple

The spelling ‘resume’ with no accents is acceptable and very commonly used. Using this version allows you to avoid any technical issues, and having to edit documents if you need to send a plain text version. Using this version will also save you time and effort adding accents, so you can focus on the content of your resume which is the most important part.

Tips for adding accents in different software programs

Here are the steps to type ‘resume’ with accents in Windows, Word and other software programs:

 For Windows applications including Notepad

  • Hold down the ‘alt’ key
  • Using the right-hand numeric keypad, type ‘0233’
  • For laptops without a keypad, turn on ‘Num Lock’

For Mac computers

  • Hold down the ‘option’ key
  • Type the letter ‘e’
  • Release both keys
  • Type the letter ‘e’ again

For Microsoft Word

  • Hold down the ‘ctrl’ key
  • Press the apostrophe key (‘)
  • Release both keys and immediately type the ‘e’

For Google docs

  • Click on ‘insert’
  • Select ‘special characters’
  • Choose ‘Latin’ for language
  • Select the ‘é’

Resume spelling tips

Here are a few tips to help you with your resume spelling:

Avoid calling your resume a ‘CV’

A curriculum vitae or ‘CV’ for short is used interchangeably across Europe and other parts of the world, but in the U.S. a ‘CV’ refers to a document needed to apply specifically for academic jobs, versus a resume which is used to apply to all other jobs.

A ‘CV’ is a longer document detailing work experience and achievements, normally used to apply for graduate school or research job. They are used much less frequently than resumes.

Always use an acute accent

If you decide to use accents in your spelling of ‘resume’ make sure you use the correct accent, known as an acute accent. This accent starts low on the left and slants up to the right. A grave accent, slants from the left, down to the right, and is another type of accent used in foreign languages.