• Learn how to design an effective online resume
  • Become familiar with basic terms and concepts in typography


Typography is an important branch of graphic communication. Specifically, it refers to the appearance of printed letters on a page or a screen. Experienced graphic designers know how to manipulate this appearance to convey different messages or simply appeal to the eye. Thus, while the letter "s" always has the same linguistic value, a designer may decide to print that "s"--along with the rest of the alphabet--in a particularly typeface, such as Garamond, because of the way that typeface makes the letters look on the page. Knowing how to work with various typefaces and other typographical elements can improve your ability to communicate effectively. Here are some useful terms:

  • bullet: a graphic symbol, often a solid circle, used in front of each item in a vertical list. Each term in this list is preceded by a bullet.
  • Gothic typefaces: dense typefaces used by early printers such as Johann Gutenberg. By about 1500, they had been largely replaced by Roman typefaces, which are much easier to read.
  • pica: a unit of measurement used by typographers. A pica is exactly equal to 1/6 inch.
  • point: a unit of measurement used by typographers, often in reference to the height of a typeface. A point is exactly equal to 1/72 inch.
  • Roman typefaces: clean, easy-to-read typefaces developed in the late 15th century by Germans Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz and perfected by Frenchman Nicolaus Jenson in the same century. Roman typefaces largely replaced the denser Gothic faces by about 1500 and continue to be the typefaces of choice today.
  • sans serif: literally, in Latin, "without serif." Some popular sans serif typefaces are Helvetica and Geneva.
  • serif: an extra line, usually small and light in Roman typefaces, that appears on the corners of letters. A holdover from the days when scribes wrote out manuscripts, serifs facilitate reading by guiding the eye from letter to letter. Some of the most popular typefaces--including Times New Roman, Bembo, and Garamond--are serif fonts.
  • typeface: a particular set of letters, a through z, along with punctuation marks, designed to be used together in printing a body of text. Although "typeface" and "font" are not exact synonyms, some people use the word "font" to refer to a typeface. Examples: Bembo, Garamond, Helvetica, Palatino, Times New Roman, Zapf Chancery.

Resumes and Cover Letters

Employers take hiring very seriously. Before they start giving a stranger responsibility and a paycheck, they want to see evidence that he or she will contribute substantially to their organizations. Below are some tips for building the kind of evidence that will net you a good job. For more information, see Dr. Lisa Schaeffer, director of the Career Services Center at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, from whom I have borrowed some of these suggestions.

As a summary of your qualifications for a job in a particular field, a resume is the most important component of the job-hunting process. To create an effective one, begin by brainstorming an extensive list of your skills, achievements, jobs, and educational experiences. Using word-processing software such as Microsoft Word, organize a resume into the following categories:

Heading: At the top of the resume, type your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and, if you have a World Wide Web site, the URL of this site.

Job objective: Briefly describe the position you seek.

Education: List the names of colleges you have attended, along with the dates you attended them, your majors and degrees, and, if it is 3.0 or above, your grade-point average.

Experience: If you have worked in at least one job where you used skills related to the position you seek, write a brief description of this job, along with descriptions of other jobs you have had. For each, include the name of the company, its location, the name of your position, and the dates you worked there. Beneath this information, list at least three specific responsibilities you had in this position. Use strong, precise verbs and specific numbers.

Skills: If you have not worked in any jobs related to the one you are seeking, create headings for skills you have developed elsewhere, perhaps in college courses or individual projects. Under each skill, describe experiences in which you developed that skill.

Awards: List two to four awards that demonstrate your ability to succeed in the position you seek.

References: References are people who can describe your personal and professional qualities. Long before you begin looking for a job, you should work at developing several good relationships with college professors, administrators, employers, coaches, ministers, and other professionals. For example, dress well when you come to class, participate in class discussions, and talk to professors in their offices about the class and about your long-range goals. Show up to class, work, and practice on time and volunteer to stay late. Take on special responsibilities. Never make excuses. Keep a list of people who might serve as good references for you and ask their permission to list their names on resumes and other professional materials. At the bottom of your resume, create a heading called "References" and list two or three of these names, along with their titles, postal addresses, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers.

When you have completed a draft of your resume, trim the material to make it as concise as possible. The average time an employer examines a resume is 30 seconds. To impress that employer during that short time, you will want to prepare an attractive, clean, and well-organized resume. Experiment with margins, fonts, headings, lines, and bullets until you have a professional resume that will attract attention. Some word-processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, have templates--predesigned documents with graphic elements already built into them. All you have to do is fill in your information.

When you have completed your resume, write a one-page cover letter to a specific person at the organization where you are applying. This letter should begin by stating the postion you seek, briefly expand information in your resume, and close with a request for an interview.

Next, proofread both the cover letter and resume at least 10 times and ask three other persons, including an English teacher, to proofread them, as well. According to the February 1997 issue of Men's Health, 45 percent of the executives surveyed said they would not consider a job candidate who made one typographical error. Take your resume to a copy store and have copies of it printed on white paper of at least 20-lb. weight. Have copies of your cover letter made on normal paper. Carry copies of your resume whenever possible. You never know when you will meet someone who can help you find a good job. If possible, post your resume on the World Wide Web and carry cards with your name, telephone number, e-mail address, and the URL of your Web site. Keep your resume stored in your computer or on a diskette and update it whenever you have changed jobs, earned an award, or otherwise boosted your potential as an employee.

Finally, maintain a file in which you store any materials you might use later in applying for jobs: awards, college transcripts, performance evaluations, letters of appreciation from customers and co-workers, items you have published, and anything else that demonstrates your skills and work ethic. When you apply for a job, place the most impressive and relevant of these materials in an attractive portfolio and take it with you to interviews. Consider posting these materials, along with your resume, on the World Wide Web. Maintaining a resume on the Web makes it easier for employers to read about you, while also advertising your technical expertise. Commit the site's URL to memory and carry it with you on homemade business cards. To see an example of an electronic portfolio, visit my portfolio.


Suggestions for Practice

  1. Typography: Visit the World Wide Web sites for the publications listed below. Analyze at least three features of each publication's typography. What do typographical features such as the presence or absence of serifs, thickness of strokes, and weight of letters suggest about the publication's goals, image, and audience?
    1. Washington Post (
    2. Rolling Stone (
    3. Newsweek (
    4. The Atlantic Monthly (
    5. National Review (
  2. Resume and Cover Letter: Visit Career Services and find an internship for which you are qualified. Create a resume and cover letter for this internship. Experiment with different typefaces, margins, bullets, lines, and images to create a graphic presentation that is right for you and the job you seek.

Updated January 5, 2000 | University of North Carolina at Pembroke
© Mark Canada, 2000 |

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