Designing an Effective Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Your CV provides a detailed account of the full scope of your academic development. It should be at least one page, and unlike a traditional resume, should be as long as necessary to include all relevant information. If you are applying for different kinds of academic positions, you may want to develop multiple versions of your CV that contain and emphasize different kinds of information.

The Basics

Because CVs contain a wide range of information, they are organized by categories, which should be clearly marked and readily identifiable. Below, you will find a list of common category headings; you may find it necessary to separate these, combine them, or create new ones. Remember that the goal is to create a document that reflects the range of your abilities in a way that is visually and intellectually appealing.


  • This information should appear in a highly visible area of the first page, preferably at the top, so that it serves as a title for the document.
  • You might also indicate your title/degree status here.

Contact Information

  • Here, you should include your address and phone number at home and at work, and an e-mail address. You may also include a cell phone number or other contact information (like a professional website) if you think it relevant.
  • If you are currently employed by an academic institution, including your work address subtly stresses that fact.
  • Be aware of when the interviews will be taking place. Specify in your CV and cover letter where you can be reached during the anticipated time. (For example: Phone (December 15-30, 2006): (614) 555-1234.)


  • This should take the form of a reverse chronology, going back to your bachelor's degree.
  • Include the title(s) and advisor(s) of your dissertation. You may also include similar information about your master's degree.
  • Also indicate exams passed with distinction, graduation with honors, etc.

Publications and Presentations

  • Provide full bibliographical citations for all published pieces and papers given at conferences.
  • Emerging scholars might want to combine these categories to have a larger block, but once you have several publications, separate these categories. You may also subdivide your list of publications.
  • If you've already published, list articles that you've submitted for publication.
  • If you have not already published, only list submitted articles if you're fairly certain that they'll be accepted.
  • Non-academic publications can be listed if they reflect a specialty. However, they should appear in a separate category so you don't seem to be 'padding' your CV.

Awards, Honors and Distinctions

  • Items in this category include scholarships, awards, prizes, fellowships, and honor societies.
  • List awards from undergraduate and graduate work.
  • Explain any titles that may not be clear to people at other universities.

Teaching Experience

  • Indicate rank, university, dates of employment, and courses taught and developed.
  • Use full course titles and provide a short description if necessary.
  • If you've taught several courses repeatedly, you may want to indicate that.
  • List experience at multiple institutions in reverse chronological order.

Areas of Teaching Interest

  • This optional category can be omitted if your CV reflects wide teaching experience.
  • List at most four or five areas; be sure that your recommendations can support your claim to expertise in each area.
  • If your teaching experience is relatively limited (i.e. to English 110), you can utilize this item to show the breadth of your qualifications.

Professional Activities and Academic Committee Work

  • Service is a central component of an academic career, and here you should demonstrate that you recognize this. List work in graduate student organizations, department and/or university committees, textbook committees, advising, and so on.

Professional or Volunteer Editing or Consulting Work

  • Whether paid or unpaid, if you've had jobs editing, tutoring, conducting seminars/workshops, teaching short courses, etc., describe that experience here.

Administrative Experience

  • Document your experience organizing programs, conferences, and projects here.

Research Experience

  • List interesting research experience outside of your coursework and dissertation.

Other Professional Experience

  • List (in reverse chronology) post-college jobs that aren't covered in other categories.

Professional Affiliations

  • Begin by reviewing the reading list you prepared for your candidacy exams; cut and paste as needed.
  • List all the works you expect to consult, whether or not you have read them yet.
  • Be prepared to accept additions from your committee members and remember that they will use this section in part to verify that you are aware of and versed in the relevant scholarship.


  • List names, titles, and contact information of the people who can serve as professional academic references.
  • If you are submitting your CV as part of an application for graduate school or an academic job, this section should (at least) list the people who wrote letters of recommendation.

Note: Like a resume, a CV is a dynamic document. Update it regularly to reflect your new accomplishments.

CV Design

Think of your CV as a two-dimensional first impression. Although the content is of primary importance, style counts as well.

  • Typing and mechanics should be impeccable. Don't forget to double-check details like dates and places.
  • It is often a good idea to print your CV on high quality paper (linen or cotton).
  • Select one layout and be consistent throughout the document.

Speaking of layouts, there are three basic formats for CVs: Two-Margin/Block, Indented, and Centered.

Two-Margin/Block... In two-margin or block format, the heading is on the left with the main information in a larger column on the right (Example A).

Indented... Here, items that are logically equivalent begin at the same space, with carry-over lines indented three spaces (Example B). If you use the indented format, use a small outside margin (about ¾") so that you'll have no more than 1-½" (sides) or 2" (top) between the edge of the page and the start of most of your type.

Centered... In centered format, the heading is centered in larger type (Example C).

Choose a format based on the type and amount of information you have on your CV. Use margins and spaces to create a visually attractive document. You will probably want to experiment with different formats. Remember that small changes can often result in big improvements.

Example A: Two-Margin Format

Ph.D. in English, June 2006. The Ohio State University
(Columbus, Ohio)
Dissertation: "The Definition of Woman: A Major Motif in Browning's The Ring and the Book"; Director: Professor Emeritus
Donald Smalley

M.A. in English, June 2002. The Ohio State University
(Columbus, Ohio)

B.A. in English, summa cum laude, May 1999. Kent State University
(Kent, Ohio)
"'As Per Your Request': A History of Business Jargon." Iowa State Journal of Business and Technical Communication 5.1 (January 2003): 27-47.
"Beyond Oral and Nonverbal Communication: What Can We Teach about Writing to Intercultural Audiences?" Association for Business Communication Midwest Conference, Louisville, KY, April 14-15, 2004; Eastern/Canadian Conference, Montreal, Canada, April 28-30, 2004.

"Protecting the Self from Society: The Function of Bureaucratic Language," Conference on College Composition and Communication, St. Louis, MO, March 17-19, 2003.
Teaching Experience
Graduate Teaching Associate, The Ohio State University Department of English, 2000-2006. Courses taught:

English 110: First-Year Composition
English 304: Business Writing
English 367: Second-Level Composition (The American Experience)

Example B: Indented Format


Ph.D. in Women's Studies, May 2006. The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
Dissertation: "Women in Postcolonial Africa: Gender and Citizenship in a Globalized World"
Director: Associate Professor Susan Smith
M.A. in History, May 2002. The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
B.A. in English, summa cum laude, May 2000. Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)


"Women and Anticolonialism: A Feminist Inquiry." SIGNS 25.1 (January 2000): 75-91.


"Locating Women in the Algerian Resistance." National Women's Studies Association Conference, Milwaukee, WI, August 15-17, 2005; Futures of Feminist Ethnography, Philadelphia, PA, October 18-19, 2004.

"Feminist Ethnography in the Postcolonial Context." Edward R. Hayes Graduate Research Forum, Columbus, OH, April 3, 2003.

Teaching Experience

Graduate Teaching Associate, The Ohio State University Department of Women's Studies, 2002-2006.

Courses taught:

Women's Studies 101: Introduction to Women's Studies (in the Humanities)
Women's Studies 367: US Women Writers - Text and Context
Women's Studies 550: History of Western Feminist Thought

Example C: Centered Format


Ph.D. in Education, May 2006. The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
Dissertation: "Locating Power: The Geography of the Classroom"
Director: Assistant Professor Jennifer Martin
M.A. in Geography, June 2002. The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
B.A. in Psychology, magna cum laude, May 2000. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio)


"The View from Behind the Desk: Classroom Geography and Perspective." American Secondary Education 13.3 (August 2005): 15-26.


"Power Dynamics in the Secondary Education Classroom." Education in Social Context Conference, Seattle, WA, May 1-3, 2005; Feminism and Education Conference, Phoenix, AZ, November 6-8, 2004.

"The Front Row: Achievement and Classroom Space." New Perspectives on Education, San Antonio, TX, June 15-16, 2003.

Teaching Experience

Graduate Teaching Associate, The Ohio State University Department of Education, 2002-2006.
Courses taught:
Education Policy & Leadership 271: Leadership in Community Service
English Policy &anp; Leadership 306: School and Society
Education Policy & Leadership 309: Psychological Perspectives on Education