How to Format Your Resume Reference List

If you have been asked to include a reference list with your resume, you will need to properly format the list. Use a similar format on your reference list as you used on your resume and cover letter. If you have these other documents on specific stationery, then your reference list should be printed on the same paper, so the whole package has a unified look. There are a few more things to consider:


Make sure the font you choose is readable and professional. Don't choose an elaborate script, colored font or a very small or very large font size. Twelve point Times New Roman is the standard. You are safe using something similar.

Also, don't use multiple fonts on your reference list. Stick with one font and vary the font by using elements like all caps, small caps, bold and italics. Do not underline because many people interpret underlined words as links to web sites. Also just stick with black print unless your resume happens to be printed in something like navy. Then you can make your font navy to match. Just don't have an array of colors on your reference list. Use one fairly neutral color and stick with it.

Make sure you have the permission of the people on your reference list to have their information there. You also need to make sure that you only list contact information if they are comfortable giving out information about you. Just talk with them about the fact that you would like to put them on your reference list, and ask them what information they would like to have listed there. Some may not want to be contacted by email while others may not want to give out their work or cell phones. Be sure the person you include will only have positive things to say about you.

What to Include

You want to include both professional and personal references on your list. The rule of thumb is to have three to five names in each category. Since you want to try to get all the information on one page, you might want to consider making two columns, one for your professional references and one for your personal references. Each reference should include the name of the person, their formal title, the company name where they work, a contact phone number, their address, and a valid email. If someone happens to be retired, just put "retired" instead of a formal title on that line.

How to Format

The most important elements should stand out in some way. So you might want to make the name of the person bold, all caps or small caps. You also could have their title be a bit different by formatting it as italic. Since most people use phone or email to contact others, these elements should stand out by being bold. Other elements like the company name and address aren't as important, so you could just leave them as regular text with no special formatting. Make sure you put one or two spaces between each one of your references.