What To Capitalize On Your Resume

Written by on September 29, 2013 in Blog, Grammar, resume tips, Resumes with 20 Comments


Many people who write resumes have an inclination to capitalize damn near everything. Perhaps they think that by capitalizing words, those words, or the functions they represent, become more important; ergo, the person becomes more important. (Did I just use the word ergo? I did, didn’t I? Smack me if I ever do that again.)

Back to capitalization

So THE CAPITALIZERS—Their Resumes End Up Looking Like This, instead of like this. It Makes It Damn Difficult To Read When The Wrong Words Are Capitalized. I Have Nothing Against Capitals, But You Should Only Use Them Where They Belong. AND DON’T EVER USE ALL CAPS. IT’S EVEN WORSE.

Here are some real examples:

  • Vast experience working with Quality systems and Regulatory filings…
  • Worked with Clinical, Regulatory, Marketing, and Operations managers to facilitate…
  • Responsible for the execution of Process Qualifications/Validation protocols and reports.
  • Managed four Project Managers and a Project Coordinator.
  • Implemented and executed Corrective Action Plans in Manufacturing and Quality Systems allowing the company to emerge from Consent Decree and resume distribution within 9 months.

In the examples above, none of the words should have been capitalized, except the first words of each sentence. This can be confusing, especially when dealing with a resume. Here are a few rules of capitalization. There are plenty of others, but these cover most of what you’ll experience when writing a resume.


  • The first word in a sentence and/or the first word of a bullet point.
  • Proper nouns.
    • Names of universities.
    • Degrees obtained.
    • Company names.
    • Titles of jobs you held.
    • Specific department names.
    • Days of week, and months (but not seasons).
    • Names of cities, states, countries, and languages.
    • Brand names—Coke, Chevrolet, Microsoft Word, Vaseline, Xerox…

Let’s look at examples of the list and clarify a few things.
Degrees—when used to cite what degree you obtained, or if it’s a proper noun in itself, you capitalize. So, BA in Economics is in caps, but if you refer to it later and mention, “…I studied economics in college…” it is not capitalized. You would, however, capitalize it if it were Spanish or English.

Titles of jobs—when used specifically, as when you list your job title, it is capitalized, but if you were to use it generically in a sentence it’s not. So, your title at XYZ Company was “Sales Representative,” when you list it on your resume in the Work History section, but if you mention it on your cover letter like this, “…worked as a sales representative at XYZ Company…” you would not capitalize it.

Department names—this is perhaps the most confusing area, and it can get downright baffling. If you are referring to a specific department name, for example, “…the detective worked in the “Homicide Department,” it would be capitalized, but you’d write, “…he was a homicide detective,” without caps.

Industries—this is one that far too many people go overboard with. They write things like, “…experience in Pharmaceutical industry, or Semiconductors, or Automotive, Aerospace, Film, Computer… industry.” None of these should be capitalized in this context.

There are a lot more areas that might be questionable. If you need references, I’d suggest checking out sites like Daily Writing Tips or Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips, or The Associated Press style book.

Bottom Line

No one is going to trash your resume over a few mistakes in capitalization, but when the mistakes keep piling up, and a gatekeeper is on her 100th resume of the day, it’s easy for her to get frustrated. Overuse of capitalization makes a resume difficult to read, not to mention it looks plain silly.

Many people scoff at articles like this, dismissing the advice with a “things like that don’t matter,” attitude. But put yourself in a gatekeeper’s role. You’ve looked at all of those resumes, seen hundreds, if not thousands, of mistakes for the day—wouldn’t it be refreshing to read a resume without mistakes? It might even make you take notice of the person who wrote it. Maybe read with more insight. Pique your interest in what they’ve done. After all, if they can write a resume with no mistakes, maybe they can do other things the right way.

And please keep in mind, unless you’ve found a back door into the company or some other way to avert the screening process, that gatekeeper is your ticket. She’s the one—the only one—who can let you in the door.

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If you liked this post, you might want to check out my resume/cover letter book, No Mistakes Resumes. If you buy it here, it’s guaranteed. In fact, to my knowledge, my books are the only guaranteed books on the Internet.

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About the Author

About the Author: When I’m not headhunting, or writing, I help my wife take care of our animal sanctuary. At last count we had 45 animals—11 dogs, 1 horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar named Dennis who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy. For information on my mystery/suspense books, go to giacomog.com .

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  1. Why I Didn't Read Your Résumé - Giacomo Giammatteo | April 9, 2018
  1. avatar Christine says:

    Very useful and nessasary tips. Great job! And an animal sactuary sounds like a wonderful dream. Keep up the good tips, aritcals and all of your writing skills.

    • avatar giammatteo

      Thanks, Christine. Glad you found some of this useful. And yes, the sanctuary is a dream–one with a lot of word, but a dream nonetheless.

      • avatar Christine says:

        If you have some extra time and you want to do a mom of a very cute little boy who doesn’t want to loose her house and no longer work for the “devil” I am working for, I love for you to take a moment to check out my resume. I know a resume is the first window a future employer has to see into the skills and benefits I can bring to their company and I want to make sure my window has the best view. However I know you are very busy, I just thought I’d ask. It never hurts to ask right? Thanks for your time, reply and awesome tips!

        Very useful and nessasary tips. Great job! And an animal sactuary sounds like a wonderful dream. Keep up the good tips, aritcals and all of your writing skills.

  2. avatar misty says:

    Thank you so much! I find the random capitalization annoying.

  3. avatar Wayne says:

    Great information. Can you address the proper way to use caps in my name at the top of my resume. Is using all caps in my name an disastrous mistake? Thank you, Wayne


  4. avatar Jeanette says:


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  7. avatar J. Groves says:

    Thanks for the information. One question remains: You do capitalize a word at the beginning of a bullet point, but do you add a period? Most bullet points do not contain actual sentences so I always assume this is an error as well (I noticed your bullet points contain periods). I will Google to find out more, but thought I would mention it to you. Thanks again.

    • Sorry for such a horrendously late reply, but last year I had 2 heart attacks and 2 strokes. It kept me out of pocket for the entire year. But to answer your question, yes, you are right: a bullet point does not need periods. The main thing is to be consistent, so either use them, or don’t, but do it consistently. If you practice consistency, you won’t get into trouble.

  8. avatar Jennifer DuJat says:

    Thanks for this. What about the student’s major in college? Should that be capitalized in a short bio? For example, Jennifer majored in Business Management?

  9. Thanks for this. What about the student’s major in college? Should that be capitalized in a short bio? For example, “Jennifer majored in Business Management?”

  10. avatar Kaylene says:

    This website was… how doo you say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Thank you!
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  11. avatar X says:

    I would like to think a huge thankyou would make your day and make your time and effort worthwhile!

  12. avatar Arielle says:

    Hi Giammatteo,
    I really like your post!!
    All these tips are very good and easy to understand. I realized my mistake after reading this article. I didn’t understand the rejection of myself for the job until I didn’t read your post. But when I read your post, then truly I realize the rejection of myself in the interview. Now I am working to get good job by following your tips!! I hope this will give me my dream job which I always wished
    Thanks for such an informative and useful post!!
    Arielle recently posted..3 Linguistic Mistakes That Horribly Deflate Your Executive Resume.My Profile

  13. avatar fernando says:

    Useful and necessary tips…. i also have an site that my interest
    quality audit

  14. avatar McKenzie says:

    Thank you for sharing this, because it is very hard to know exactly what is the best practices for this. Capitalization is pretty tricky, and for resumes it gets its own sets of rules.

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