How to Use a Semicolon Instead of a Period in a Resume

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The semicolon is a bit of punctuation that has a long history. According to Slate, the semicolon has been used in various ways throughout history. For the ancient Greeks, it was a question mark. However, by the 1700s, it was being used to indicate pauses in written texts, with the general rule of thumb being that a semicolon indicated a pause that was double the pause of the comma. However, today the usage is slightly different.

  • Use a semicolon to separate two clauses that could otherwise be broken up by a period. For example, compare "I graduated from Yale. Then I enrolled in graduate coursework at Harvard." to "I graduated from Yale; then I enrolled in graduate coursework at Harvard."

  • Create a break between two related sentences where the first sentence contains one or more commas. For example, you might write on your resume, "I am certified to practice law in Maine, Alabama, Alaska, and New York; and I plan to complete my bar exam for Mississippi this fall."

  • Break up the rhythm of resume sections that are filled with short, choppy sentences. If you are listing a number of accomplishments in a row, you may want to vary the cadence of your writing by using fewer periods and more semicolons.

  • Highlight a relationship between two thoughts. For example, on your resume you might say, "I spent a year abroad in Paris; I am now ideally suited to interact with French clients."

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