The Best Resume Format for Internships

Updated: October 23, 2019

We’ve covered the basics for your resume, from content to length to references—and everything in between. Now, it’s time to review the formatting specifics. In all honesty, there are few set rules, and individuals on the same hiring committee may have different views of what should and should not be included. So, let’s review your options, starting with the sections we reviewed in our How to Write a Resume guide.

How do you format each section?

Heading: Put your name at the very top of your resume. Use a splash of color and a different font if you want; you can go online for some design inspiration. Your name should be significantly larger than the rest of the resume (usually 20–24-pt font). If your resume goes beyond one page (not recommended, add your name and page numbers in a footer for the document (e.g., O’Donnell ǀ 1).

Underneath your name, include your contact information. The most important information is your phone number and email address. While a physical address is less important for online applications, tradition means that many hiring managers expect it. At least include your city and state.

One other item to include, if you wish, in your header: the URL for your LinkedIn page or online portfolio. You can left- or right-align your heading, or you can center it. Your final header could look like this

Mia Noname  
New York, NY  ‖  111-111-1111  ‖  ‖

Or this:

Mia Noname
New York, NY

Experiment with styles to see what looks best, but remember that content is always king (unless you’re applying to a graphic design role).

Education: List your degrees and any certificates or certifications that are relevant to the job you’re applying to.  Place the most advanced degree first and work backwards. For each entry, include the degree completed and the year you attained it. If you’re still in college, list your “anticipated” graduation date, (e.g., “May 2020 (anticipated)”). If you received a master’s or PhD, it’s acceptable to list the respective initials after your last name in the heading (e.g., O’Donnell, M.A.). You can also include your GPA and any honors/academic accolades received.

The “Education” section is usually placed after the applicant’s name and contact information. This is especially important if the job requires a specific degree, if you’re still in college, or if you’re a recent graduate. As you progress in your career, education can be listed at the end of the resume. Here’s what this section might look if you’re right-aligning your dates:

My University, Boston, MA                                                                                                             May 2018                            
– A. English
GPA: 4.0/4.0

Summary of qualifications, resume summary, or resume objective: No matter how you slice it, including a snapshot of everything you have to offer a potential employer is a great way to kick off your resume. It can save the recruiter valuable time by highlighting your most impressive achievements and clearly connecting your diverse experiences. Title it accordingly, then include 1–5 super persuasive sentences (or bullet points for a “Summary of Qualifications”). This section should always be near the top of your resume. It can go immediately after your header or after your education.

Core competencies: This list can help the reader quickly gauge if your resume is worth a full read. Because it’s a list of a dozen or so one- to three-word phrases, it’s typically formatted as a table, with multiple columns. Ensure it’s no more than five lines deep.


Branding campaigns Marketing management Advertising campaigns
Contract negotiations ROI assessment Market analysis
Budget administration Program development Event marketing

Professional experience
: This is where job seekers list the jobs or internships they’ve previously held and currently hold, along with their duties and accomplishments for each role. Include your title (and, if you got a promotion or two, your previous titles), the company name, the dates you worked there, and a description of what you did and accomplished. Put your title and/or the company name in bold, italics, or another style to break up the text and draw the hiring manager’s eye. Do not use more than one style at a time.

Hiring managers can be hyper-critical of job seekers who fail to list the month and year they began and ended jobs. If you worked at a job for over three years, it’s okay to just list years (e.g., 2013–2017). Otherwise, include both month and year (e.g., May 2013–April 2015). List jobs in reverse-chronological order.

The best way to highlight your accomplishments is by using bullet points. Each should be one sentence and emphasize a different skill set used or gained to make an impact.

End Hunger Inc., Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Minneapolis, MN, October 2013–April 2017

  • Developed, wrote, and designed digital and print content for supporters, donors, volunteers, and staff, including email marketing campaigns, social media posts, newsletters, and event collateral.
  • Grew nonprofit’s web and social media presence and followership, increasing e-mail click-through rate by 19%.
  • Assisted in coordinating fundraising events, including annual dinner-auction, which had 14% increase in attendance and 11% increase in revenue from previous year.

Extracurricular and volunteer experience: If you’ve participated in extracurricular activities or volunteered, chances are you’ve acquired some valuable skills along the way. This should be its own section, formatted just like your “Professional Experience” section. Same spacing, emphasis, and writing style, with bullet points to make clear your greatest accomplishments.

Awards and accomplishments: If you choose to make this its own section, make each award its own line, and include the name, date, and a short description of why you were selected.

Student Editor Award, College of Valhalla, April 2017
Recognized in creative writing class for providing superior editorial feedback to peers.

Additional information, technological proficiencies, affiliations, and more: For that little something extra that you want to highlight, you can include an “Additional Information” section. Feel free to switch up the section title if you wish; it should best reflect the areas that you want to highlight. Format it just as you would your “Professional Experience” or “Extracurricular Activities” sections.

What about the overall resume format?

How long should a resume be? What font should you use? What about including graphics? We briefly reviewed formatting in our how-to guide; here, we’ll go over all the details.

Length: The short answer is that you should stick to one page. If you’re in college and applying to internships, definitely stick with one page. If you’re a new graduate, same answer. Once you’re established and have 15+ years of experience under your belt, you can go to two pages—but only if you really need to. And if you choose to go to a second page, be sure to use the whole second page. Many consider a one-and-a-half-page resume unorganized. They think, “Why couldn’t they edit it down to a single page?”

Keep in mind that that one-page length should include plenty of white space to ensure the document is readable.

Margins: It’s best to use standard one-inch margins, but you may use margins as small as .5 inches. Whatever you choose, be sure the margin size is consistent on all sides.

Font and font size: When choosing a font, make sure it’s easy to read. While it used to be standard practice to use Times New Roman 12-point font, you have more flexibility nowadays. Rule number one: whatever font you use, your choice needs to be readable! Cursive-style fonts are pretty to the eyes, but they’re often difficult to read.

Use only one font (and font size) throughout your resume, with the exception of your header. You may choose a different font and size for your name and header as a way to brand yourself. Appropriate fonts for the rest of your resume include Arial, Calibri, Garamond, Georgia, Tahoma, or Times New Roman.

As for font size, use Times New Roman 12-point font as a guide. Anything similar in size is generally acceptable. If a hiring manager needs to squint to read your resume, they are not likely to spend much time on it.

Punctuation: Once you’ve ensured that your resume is grammatically correct, the most important thing is consistency. If you use periods at the end of your bullet points in the first section, use periods throughout the entire document.

Color: A splash of color for your name can look nice on a resume and make things pop—but it can also turn off some hiring managers, so it’s your call. If you’re printing your resume to mail or use at a career fair, use black ink on white, cream, or ivory paper. 

Lines: Another way to break up your text is to add lines to your resume. Used sparingly, these can create a clear flow of information and add visual interest. The most common place to put a line is beneath your name and before your contact information or beneath your entire header.

Alignment and spacing: You have a lot of options when it comes to aligning and spacing out the various parts of your resume. Generally speaking, if you strive for consistency and readability, you’ll be fine.

A few more specific words of wisdom: You don’t want too much information on any one line, so consider left- or right-aligning your dates to break things up. Don’t consider centering anything, including section titles, except your header. Left-align your body text, don’t justify it; while it makes for even lines, it creates awkward gaps between words. Finally, ensure everything is evenly spaced, between sections and between lines (which should be single spaced).

Now, you’re ready to share your academic and professional story with the world—so get applying (but don’t forget to tailor it to each position, just as would with your cover letter!).