It’s that time of year again! This year I will address some of the top grammatical and spelling errors specifically found on resumes Top Ten Grammatical Errors 2013and business documents, both of which constitute a large portion of what I read. Here’s the list:

#10 – Inconsistencies in Bulleted Lists
If you make a list of bulleted items, whether it be on a resume or on a website, make them consistent in terms of the part of speech you start with. Bullets that start with the words Provide, Assess, Ensure, and Designing are not parallel; nor are bullets that start with Creates, Teaches, Organized, and Fulfills. Perhaps the inconsistent word jumps off the page when listed this way, but I see mismatched bullets in many types of documents every day. Check your bulleted lists carefully!

#9 – Manager/Manger
According to Wikipedia, a “manger” is “a feeder that is made of carved stone, wood, or metal construction and is used to hold food for animals (as in a stable).” A “manager,” in contrast, is a person in a professional setting who supervises a person or team. Don’t mix them up on your resume, or in your Christmas greetings ;-).

#8 – Principal/Principle
“Principal” is an adjective meaning first, highest, or foremost in importance, rank, worth, or degree; or of, relating to, or being financial principal, or a principal in a financial transaction. It can also be a noun meaning a person with a leading role, or one who holds a position of presiding rank or who is a main participant in a situation. “Principle,” in contrast, is a basic truth, tenet or assumption. I realize this spelling distinction can be hard to remember. One trick I use to keep them straight is to think, “You’re my #1 pal” and know that the word ending in “pal” relates to someone or something that is #1.

#7 – PowerPoint/Powerpoint
It’s a common error to miss the capital P in the middle of PowerPoint. Be careful when listing any computer programs on your resume to spell them correctly!

#6 – Set up/Setup
“Set up” is a verb meaning to set something up or put something in a specified state. Notice that there is a word in between “set” and “up” in the definition of “set up,” which you can think of as being substituted with a space. You must set *something* (_) up. “Setup,” however, is a noun meaning the process of preparing something to be used. You might set up the menus in a restaurant if you work there, but you would go to a setup menu to get a computer program ready for use.

#5 – Inconsistent Dashes
If you use dashes in between start and end dates on your resume, or between any items in a document, use the same length dash for every similar set of text! I almost always see inconsistencies, especially on resumes, and they appear unprofessional. Don’t write June 2011-July 2013 in one spot and August 2010—June 2011 in another.

#4 – Apostrophes
This issue makes the list for the third year in a row. Main point: Creating a plural doesn’t require an apostrophe. One client, two clients. To make a singular word possessive, add an apostrophe ‘s’: e.g., I wrote one client’s resume today. To make a plural word possessive, add an apostrophe after the ‘s’: e.g., I reviewed 5 clients’ records and discovered errors in 3 of them. See Top 7 Grammatical and Spelling Errors of 2012 and Top 10 Grammatical and Spelling Errors of 2011 for more on this topic.

#3 – Everyday/Every day
This is a repeat topic as well. Everyday is an adjective meaning “common” or “day-to-day.” Every day means “daily” or “each and every day.” Want to learn a trick to remember which is which? See Common Grammatical Errors: Everyday vs. Every Day.

#2 – Lead/Led
The absolute most common spelling error on resumes is the use of “lead,” meant to be the past tense of “lead.” The past tense of the verb “to lead” is “led”! I would love to see this error disappear from the resume writing world.

#1 – Two spaces after a period!
Sure there are people who still argue that two spaces after a period is acceptable, but I have been fully converted! I have trained my fingers and my eyes to put one space after each period, and I’m attempting to train my clients to “get with the program” as well. If it’s good enough for the Chicago Manual of Style, it’s good enough for me!

Have a happy, healthy, and grammatically correct new year. And remember, I’m always open to hearing your suggestions for my 2014 list!


  1. Thanks, Brenda. The problem with manager/manger may be due to the way modern keyboards and word processors behave. My system constantly drops some of the letters I know I have typed and spell check is happy with manger even if it is out of context.

    Also, in my high school, the principal was definitely not my pal (this was an unspoken principle).

    Oops, I almost left 2 spaces after the period in the first paragraph. That will be a hard habit to change. Oops, almost did it again. Oops…

  2. When I learned about the typing structure I was taught to always place two spaces after the period. I am curious as how we evolved into just one period? I have had some exposure to publishing and I am fairly certain that they use only one space after a period. I have been told that it was to help minimize pages, not sure about that.

  3. The only one that is a give or take is the two spaces. Both are still acceptable. It comes from the changes in computer fonts and spacing. On certain documents (like a resume), you might need two spaces after a period. Most word processing programs have a view that helps the typist decide what looks more uniform, and professional.
    For an essay, I have no issue with the one vs. two space controversy. I do have an issue with the way people are taught to write them.

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