April 1, 2006

You Say Resume, I Say Résumé

resume 'rĭ-zōōm’\ v. tr. 1 : To begin or take up again after interruption: resumed our dinner. 2 : To assume, take, or occupy again: The dog resumed its post by the door. 3 : To take on or take back again: resumed my original name.

résumé 'rĕ-zōō-mā’\ n. 1 : A brief account of one’s professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application. 2 : A summary: a résumé of the facts of the case.

There aren’t too many things that drive me up a wall. Yes, there is the occasional fingernail on the blackboard or the exporting of Democracy to various and sundry countries in the Middle East. Uncomfortable? Yes. Divine retribution for leading a pure life? Perhaps.

But these pale by comparison to seeing the word RÉSUMÉ (notice the accents over the e’s) spelled RESUME on Web sites and blogs.

Each time I see this typographic transgression —each time I see a fellow blogger title his or her job history as such I feel a pressure on my chest and a compulsion to right and rewrite this wrong. I can’t get over it and I can’t help myself.

I don’t know where this holier-than-thou attitude comes from. Luckily, I have a modicum of self-control. I have only contacted a handful of my fellow webbies to offer my expertise (you know who you are). I have thankfully left the rest of you alone.

But the strain of holding back is getting to me. I want to shout from the top of the Empire State Building: “DON’T FORGET THE ACCENTS!” —both of them and both facing the correct direction. Accent aigu for you Francophiles.

In html the word is coded “r-&-e-a-c-u-t-e-;-s-u-m-&-e-a-c-u-t-e-;” and in Photoshop the accented é is created by using cmd-e option-e, e (Mac) or alt-0233 (PC).

To make it easier, as a service to my field, and as personal therapy I am offering an html version of résumé along with a Photoshop version in a handy dandy zip file. Download and use liberally throughout the Web.

I can’t single-handedly stop our way of life from oozing uncontrollably from our shores. But I can do my part to end this bit of spelling debauchery.

Don’t thank me profusely. It’s a selfish act.

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How do you spell curriculum vitae?

Posted by: ralph on April 1, 2006 12:09 PM

CV is so much easier to type.

Oh, and above this comment form, it says “oxymoran,” which, of course, should be “oxymoron.”

Posted by: Hans on April 1, 2006 6:43 PM

Ah, well said! I’m updating my site right now.

On a mac it’s option e, e, not command.

Posted by: Brian Warren on April 1, 2006 6:46 PM

Jeff, I wholeheartedly agree. Fingernails to the slate.

One note of correction.

Key combo on the Mac… opt-e then e will give you the accented e.



Posted by: Bone on April 1, 2006 6:57 PM


Posted by: Tony on April 1, 2006 8:48 PM

You spelled “oxymoron” wrong.

Posted by: Dan on April 2, 2006 4:31 AM

You spell it “CV.’

Posted by: paul haine on April 2, 2006 5:07 AM

Fair enough, but only for lower case instances. In French, capitalised characters never have accents. So, to be picky, your second paragraph is kinda wrong.

Posted by: A Pedant on April 2, 2006 6:16 AM

I have finally discovered the secret to getting more people to comment on this site: misspell and misinform. Your readers will let you know!

Hans and Dan: you are indeed correct. It’s “oxymoron,” not “oxymoran” as it has been written since 2004 (where have you guys been?). It’s been changed.

Brian and Bone: Doh! You too are right. In order to make the Photoshop file I had been practicing this keystroke all week. Instructions corrected.

A Pedant: thanks for the info. I didn’t know that. I changed the title of this piece so it uses lowercase. But I was using small caps for the second paragraph for emphasis.

And, as an added bonus a little phrase trivia: curriculum vitae is a Latin expression meaning: “course of life.”

Posted by: Jeff on April 2, 2006 9:09 AM

I just wanted to chime in and say this bothers me too. In fact, it bothers me that my résumé URL is /resume/ instead of /résumé/, which I suppose it border-line obsessive. :)

Posted by: Nathan Smith on April 2, 2006 10:49 PM

It’s not true that in French capitalized letters never have accents —people use this excuse to cover their lazyness or ignorance.

In the long-gone past —when books and newspapers where typeset with lead-block characters— it was indeed common not to use the accented version of the capital letters. Typographers had few of them in their case, due to their cost and because they were often smaller than the non-accented ones (in order to leave space for the accent on the lead-block.

But when the meaning could be altered by the absence of an accent the rule was to use the accented letter — e.g. “LE TYPOGRAPHE AGACE” doesn’t have the same meaning as “LE TYPOGRAPHE AGACÉ.”

Nowadays, there are no real justifications for not using accented capital letters, except, maybe for very tight line-spacing in a title running on several lines.

Nobody but AOL users should type in FULL CAPS. Use the style tools of your word processor or page layout application instead.

Posted by: Lionel Chollet on April 3, 2006 7:21 AM

And, technically, it’s curriculum vitæ (note the ligature.. god, I hate us pedants!)

I just call mine “stuff wot I done”. Everyone knows what that means… right?

Posted by: Gordon on April 3, 2006 8:01 AM

Well, Gordon, if you want a lucrative career in “technical communications, writing software manuals and online help systems,” that might not work as well as one might think. ;)

Posted by: Jeff on April 3, 2006 8:16 AM

Hi Gordon, Absolutely right on this one, but in French accents are actually only used on lowercase letters, so it’s résumé or RESUME.

Posted by: Danny on April 5, 2006 3:11 AM

Found this at
Search for “character code 130” in order to see the hebrew letter.

For example on some PCs the character code 130 would display as é, but on computers sold in Israel it was the Hebrew letter Gimel (), so when Americans would send their résumés to Israel they would arrive as rsums.

Posted by: Ralph Bunker on April 11, 2006 3:17 PM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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