Curriculum Vitae

A curriculum vitae, or CV, is similar to a resume in that it demonstrates your accomplishments to a potential employer. However, unlike a resume, a CV focuses on your academic pursuits and emphasizes teaching, research experience, publications, and presentations. In the United States, a CV is appropriate for a person who is pursuing an academic job such as teaching or research positions at a university.

Writing Your CV

What is Included in a CV?

CVs typically range in length from two to ten pages, depending on your experience and include:

  • Your first and last name
  • Physical address
  • Telephone number
  • Professional email address
  • Educational background
  • Awards, fellowships, teaching & research experience
  • Related experiences
  • Publications
  • Language skills
  • Extracurricular activities and/or relevant personal interests
  • Professional associations e.g. The American Chemical Society
  • Your cover letter should accompany your CV as well as any other supporting materials like transcripts or writing samples

Your CV Should NOT Include:

Personal information such as photographs, marital status, gender, ethnicity/race, date of birth, height, weight, age, religion, church affiliation, political affiliation, social security number, or high school information (your CV should focus on your educational experience after high school).

Formatting Your CV

There is no standard format for the layout of a CV. Simply ensure that you format your CV in a manner that is clear, concise, and organized. Here are some additional tips:

Use incomplete sentences to present your information clearly and concisely, as you would in a resume. Instead of writing, “I taught math classes for four years,” simply state, “Mathematical Sciences Instructor (2009-2013).”

Maintain consistent structure throughout your entire document. If you use a verb phrase such as “teaching,” stick with it, don’t start with next phrase with “lead,” it should be “leading.”

Stick to the style that is most clear and concise. You want your CV to be easy to read. Bullets, columns, bold and italic fonts are all tools you can use to make your CV pleasing to the eye and easy to understand. 

Once you are done writing and reviewing your CV, save it as a PDF if you are submitting it electronically. Otherwise, all the nice margins and fonts may get ruined in the electronic transfer.

For more tips on formatting, check out our sections on cover letters and resumes. Much of the information will apply to CVs.

Editing Your CV

Always have someone proofread your resume before submitting it. PREPs is a great resource for IUPUI Science students, as well as the University Writing Center and the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL).

While writing your resume, be aware of these formal writing tips:

Try to avoid ambiguous references.

When speaking with friends, it's common to overuse ambiguous words like "this", "these", "his", "it", "they", etc. These words have no meaning in themselves, but in conversation the meaning is usually clear from the context. In written text, however, the intended meaning is often not evident to the reader, because there are many possible interpretations of "it" and "this". Even if the item to which you refer is explicitly mentioned in your paper, ask yourself whether there is any chance that the reader might not know to which of several items you might be referring. E.g. for the word "he", were there two or three people being discussed? If so then state the actual name of each; "he" would be ambiguous.

Watch out for homonyms.

Spell checker is awesome, but it rarely catches homonyms. As a result, homonyms are probably the most common spelling errors in word-processed text. Even if you are lazy and let the spell check fix all of your other words, make certain that you know the differences between words like:
theirthere, they're
throughout, through out
complement, compliment

"But" and "however" are not interchangeable.

The words "but" and "however" have similar meanings, but they are not interchangeable. If you take a grammatically correct sentence containing "but" and replace it with "however", or vice versa, the result will almost always be incorrect, mainly because of comma punctuation. Here are correct examples of how to use but and however:
  • "I like oranges, but I do not like tangerines."
  • "I like oranges. However, I do not like tangerines."
  • "I like oranges; however, I do not like tangerines."
  • "I, however, do not like grapefruits."
  • "I like oranges however they have been prepared."

Use caution with capitalization.

Capitalization is appropriate only for specific, named, individual items or people. For example, capitalize school subjects only when you are referring to a specific course at a specific school: math is a general subject, but Math 301 is a particular course. Similarly: Department of Computer Sciences vs. a computer science department, the president vs. President Bush. When in doubt, use lower case.

The above Writing Guidelines were excerpts taken from Dr. James A. Bednar's article, Tips for Academic Writing and Other Formal Writing.