Macmillan Library Presents: Tips from Grammar Girl #3

grammar girl cartoonGrandmaster grammar wrangler Mignon Fogarty (a.k.a. Grammar Girl) has agreed to teach us the proper way to talk to librarians about the books and genres we love. We'll be posting her monthly tips here on the blog. Take it away, Grammar Girl!

How to Write a Better Résumé

Talia and Ali tell me that librarians are helping almost as many people find jobs as they are helping find books. One important thing to check for on a résumé is that the bullets match. Not in that fashionable-detective way in which a lady’s bullets match her shoes, but in a slightly less delightful grammatical way: It’s called parallel construction, and this is how it looks:

Activities and Accomplishments

Hungered for deeper meaning

Longed for a raise

Resisted throwing myself out a window

Although that may not be the most appealing list of activities and accomplishments to a potential employer, your candidate won’t be rejected for grammar errors. Note how each bullet point is a sentence fragment that starts with a verb in the past tense. Using a fragment is OK in a bulleted list, and the parallelism of the verbs is pleasing to the eye. 

Note how the following list, although more respectable, seems jumbled and wrong because of the lack of parallelism.

Activities and Accomplishments

Shelving goal of 5,000 books per day met

Convinced 30 volunteers to work for nothing but doughnuts

I single-handedly reroofed the library. 

Want to help job candidates avoid other errors on their résumés? Check out GRAMMAR GIRL PRESENTS 101 TROUBLESOME WORDS YOU’LL MASTER IN NO TIME and visit Grammar Girl at

We're running our third and final giveaway of one full set of her latest Quick and Dirty Tips books (this set includes four signed(!) books and one unsigned audiobook).


UPDATE: This contest has ended. Congratulations to our winner: Betty H. Lee, Adult and Young Adult Librarian at Rockville Memorial Library!

Enter to win these signed books by sending your name, your library, and your full mailing address to (subject: Grammar Girl) by Friday, August 24th.

This sweepstakes is open to librarians in the United States. More eligibility details below.

Entrants must be age 18 or older. No purchase necessary.

Entries must be received by Friday, August 24th 2012 to be eligible. We will select the potential prize winner at random from among all eligible entries received. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached after three (3) business days, we will select an alternate winner, so check your email!

The winners grant Macmillan Library the right to announce their names on Twitter,, and any other platform we want to congratulate them on.

Please note: we can't guarantee that the books will all arrive in mint condition, but we will pack them with care!

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