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Unbalanced Resume Pages, Widows and Orphans

By Tammi Day and Laura DeCarlo

Sometimes, our resumes ends with a few characters on the last line, or a single line of text wrapping to the next page. Deceptively referred to as “widows” and “orphans,” these are not harmless creatures to be protected, but rather destructive forces bent on ruining a carefully crafted presentation. A widow, typographically speaking, is when the first line of a paragraph remains at the bottom of a column or page, or fewer than seven characters stand alone on the last line of a paragraph or line. An orphan is when the last line of a paragraph or line wraps to the top of a new column or page.

Personally, I go beyond the seven-character rule for widows, since that doesn’t consider line length. I generally avoid lines that are less than ¼ of the total paragraph width.


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