CV extras: spelling, formatting & more

Building a professional CV is no easy feat. Brit-ifying it is even harder. Check out our CV vs. Resume post to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases, make it stellar using our CV Tips + Tricks, then continue reading this post to learn some cheats to make your CV so polished only your address will give away that you’re American.

Though it sounds silly to hide American English on your CV when you are, in fact, American, let me put it this way: recruiters everywhere look for ways to weed out candidates. The employer may skim your contact details without realizing that you’re from across the pond and then throw your CV out because you misspelled “realising.”

Plus, being willing (and able!) to change in small ways never hurt anyone and can show that you’ll assimilate well to a new culture.

So, here are the last few details to check before you send off your final CV.


Change your spellcheck to U.K. English. In Microsoft Word, go to the Review tab and click on the small dropdown arrow under the icon that says Language. Choose “Set Proofing Language” and scroll through the options until you find “English (United Kingdom)” and press OK. If you want this to be your permanent proofreading language, you can also click “Set as Default” before hitting OK.

Open Word > Review tab > Language dropdown > Set Proofing Language > choose English (United Kingdom) > Press OK

Search the document for common misspellings. To do this in Word, simply click Ctrl + F and the search bar will pop out of the left side of your screen.

Open Word > click Ctrl + F > search a term or letter > hit enter > click the down arrows in the search results to go through each one

Great ones to search are:

Search 1 = z 

This will find errors like “organized” instead of “organised” and “prioritize” instead of “prioritise.”The English rarely use “z” (or as they say, zed) except at the start of words. Of course, Google the British version of a word if you are unsure.

Search 2 = or

All of a sudden your “colorful” personality will need to become “colourful.”

Search 3 = el

Many words in the U.S. ending in -eling are actually spelled with a double “l” in the U.K. For example, traveling is actually travelling, canceled is cancelled, and medalist is medallist.

Search 4 = er

This one gets more confusing, so double check your changes. But, for a frame of reference center = centre, liter = litre,  and theater = theatre.

Seriously, if you’re confused just Google it or read this rad Wikipedia article (with a comprehensive list) on the differences.



Formatting for a CV can stay pretty much the same as what you would use for an American resume. Since there are more sections on a CV, it is highly important to keep it consistent.

For instance, if you decide to bold the names of places you work and italicize (italicise!) your job role there, when you get to volunteer activities or skills, bold the organization and italicize your role. Choose two easy-to-read fonts and use one for headings and one for all of the other words on the page.

To start, make sure your name is seen first (and in a large font size, like 32 – 48 pt). Put your contact details below that.

Pro tip: Use the same font for your name as you use for your section headings.

It is helpful to separate main sections (Education, Employment, Additional Skills, Technology Skills, Hobbies/Interests, etc.) with lines. If you have the space, you can also increase the font size just a bit for each of those main headings.

Keep margins the same on both pages of the CV, and make sure bullet points are indented to the same depth on the page.

Print off a copy and have someone look it over to see if anything looks wonky or confusing. Look at examples online, but make sure to develop your own format instead of using a Word Template or an online template.


Word Choice

Finally, some last thoughts on word choice before your masterpiece is complete. Just like with spelling, the English are a bit fancier in some of their wording.

So, instead of References available upon request, write “Referees available upon request.”

If one of your hobbies is biking, then on your CV the hobby would be “cycling.”

In a personal statement or action-based bullet point, you never oversaw operations while completing multiple daily tasks. Instead, you oversaw operations whilst completing those tasks.

Anytime you reference what we call college, remember that in the U.K. it is only referred to as “university.” So it’s not “during college” or “after college” it is “during my time at university” or “after university.”

If that seems difficult, just pretend you’re writing a CV for the Queen to peruse. In the end, if you catch 99% of the spelling errors and have an aesthetically appealing CV, word choice won’t be as noticeable or detrimental.

Happy job hunting!

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