Make a Pretty Résumé with LaTeX: The Easy Way

Have you ever spent hours trying to perfect your résumé in Microsoft Word, only to want to throw your computer out the window? If your experiences are anything like mine, you know how frustrating it can be when a word processor ignores your intentions and formats everything its own way, messing up all that tedious line-spacing and alignment you just did. As if job-hunting weren’t painful enough already!

Today I’m going to tell you about a better, and ultimately easier, way to design a professional résumé with LaTeX. It will look something like this:

latex-resume-final

For those who aren’t in the know, LaTeX is an open source typesetting system and document markup language used often in scientific publishing and academia. It is based on the older, lower-level markup language TeX. LaTeX is known for producing attractive, high-quality documents of all sorts.

LaTeX is commonly associated with the initialism “WYSIWYM” – What You See is What You Mean. WYSIWYM is an alternative to WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get), which is the style of graphical editing used by most word processors to show you exactly what the final product is going to look like as you type it. WYSIWYM, in contrast, is a paradigm that emphasizes deliberate structural choices, generally through the use of a markup language and style sheets. The computer does the work of exporting it into a readable document, such as a PDF.

For example, try typing this in Microsoft Word:

latex-logo

Not happening, right? In LaTeX, all you have to do to generate that symbol is type \LaTeX. Similarly, LaTeX has built-in commands for many mathematical symbols and will semi-automatically handle the presentation of equations for you.

Needless to say, LaTeX has a learning curve. Consider this article a cheat sheet, because I’m going to show you how to use a LaTeX résumé template without even knowing LaTeX.

To follow this tutorial, you’ll have to download a few things:

Go ahead and install TeX Live, Texmaker, and your fonts. Now open up cv_3.tex in Texmaker, which is a graphical editor for TeX/LaTeX. You should see something like this:

latex-texmaker

If you’re a get-straight-to-the-point type and you noticed the “Quick Build” and “View PDF” buttons at the top, you might be tempted to run them and turn the sample résumé into a PDF right away. If you run Quick Build now, Texmaker will respond with an error message in the bottom console:

latex-error-console

That is because this particular template relies on the XeLaTeX compiler, which is not used by default in Texmaker. To fix this, you can add a custom command. Go to “User::User Commands::Edit User Commands”:

latex-user-commands

In the dialog that opens up, fill out the following:

latex-custom-xelatex-command

Now you will see XeLatex in the User Commands menu, which will run your document through XeLatex rather than the standard pdftex. If you have the non-free fonts Hoefler Text, Gill Sans, and Zapfino, running the XeLatex command followed by clicking the arrow next to “View PDF” should produce PDF output. To see it, click on “View::Pdf Viewer” in the top menu:

latex-pdf-viewer-menu

If you used the free fonts instead, you’ll have to make a few adjustments to the source code. Right now, lines 35 and 36 look like:

\setromanfont[Mapping=tex-text]{Hoefler Text} % Main document font
\setsansfont[Scale=MatchLowercase,Mapping=tex-text]{Gill Sans} % Font for your name at the top

Edit those lines to change the names of the fonts like so:

\setromanfont[Mapping=tex-text]{Linux Libertine} % Main document font
\setsansfont[Scale=MatchLowercase,Mapping=tex-text]{Sans Guilt DB} % Font for your name at the top

Now scroll down to line 75, where the Zapfino font is called for, and change it to Freebooter Script (I have also modified the code to fix a sizing issue with the font substitution):

{\color{headings}\sffamily\Huge\fontspec{Freebooter Script}Curriculum {Vit\fontspec{Freebooter Script}\ae}\\[15pt]\par}

Now that you’ve substituted your fonts, you can hit “User::User Commands::XeLatex”. If the build goes according to plan, you’ll get encouraging output in the lower console, and you can now build the PDF. In split view mode, you’ll see something like this:

latex-pdf-build

The technical part is behind you. Now that Texmaker and your template are set up to work together, you can start the actual hard work: filling in your résumé.

Knowing a bit of LaTeX syntax couldn’t hurt for this part, but you will be able to figure out a lot of it simply by copying and pasting. The source code of this particular template is also filled with helpful comments (anything following a % is a comment in LaTeX).

LaTeX is a powerful typesetting tool, and I recommend that you use it for your serious documents. If you followed this tutorial to make your résumé with LaTeX, good luck with the job search, and may you never resort to Microsoft Word for your C.V. needs again!