Microsoft Word’s problem with Resume or Resumé

How to type the words Resumé or Resume in Microsoft Word or Outlook plus some problems and software anomalies that arise.

This article is an example of what happens at  A seemingly simple question like “How to type Resumé instead of Resume “ uncovers various strange things in Microsoft Office such as typing contextual spelling, synonyms and the Microsoft Editor.

The word ‘resume’ is complicated because the word has two meanings and one meaning has three different English spellings!

Resume meaning “to restart or commence after a pause” is easy. One spelling, no accented characters.

Resumé meaning “a short summary or, more likely, brief summary of your education, qualifications” (i.e. a curriculum vitae or CV). That’s more complicated because it’s borrowed from French, known as a loanword.

Because of  its history “ resumé ” can be spelled three different ways:

  • Resume / resume – the fully anglicized version with no accents.
  • Resumé / resumé – a single accented ‘ é ’
  • Résumé  / résumé – is the original French spelling with two accented ‘ é ’.

NEVER: résume, resumè or resume’ 

In Resumé, the accent indicates that the “e” is not silent, while résumé simply retains the accents taken from French.

Most people use Resumé / resumé  to distinguish it from the other meaning but resume or even résumé can be acceptable in a English sentence.

How to type resumé with the accented letter

There are a few options for typing resumé with the accent at the end.

The direct method is to type the accented é    which is Ctrl + ‘ then e   (Ctrl + ‘ (apostrophe) then a letter will add an accent where appropriate

In other words type  r e s u m Ctrl+’ e   to get resumé

Another option is to add an Autocorrect entry to change resume to resumé  every time.  Go to File | Options | Proofing | Autocorrect to add a plain text “Replace text as you type”
Note: we’re not a big fan of this option but some of our readers swear by it.

If you need the unaccented version just press Ctrl + Z, that will reverse the Autocorrect change

After Autocorrect changing resume to resumé – pressing Ctrl + Z will undo the Autocorrect change.

What about contextual spelling?

Word’s spell checker uses some contextual clues to distinguish easily mistaken words. The common example is pair / pear.

Sadly, the same smarts hasn’t been applied to resume / resumé . We tried many sentences but could not get Word 365 English to warn that the wrong spelling is used when the context indicates it.

Both these sentences should show a spelling error (red underline) because the sentence context is wrong.

How Word handles resume and resumé

There’s no simple way to switch between resume and resumé.  Word treats both (rightly) as separate words.

Some words like café, cliché and Déjà vu are changed to include accented letters automatically in Word.  That’s done via Autocorrect (File | Options | Proofing) and the default list of corrections that comes with installation.

That’s not possible with resume because Word doesn’t know which meaning you intend.

Synonyms for Resumé and resume

A little peculiarity in Microsoft’s synonym suggestions.  Right-click on a word then Synonyms to see alternative words.  Our tests were in Word 365 and US English.

For “ resume “ there are various options offered like continue, restart and start again

But “resumé “ has no synonyms suggestions on the right-click menu.

Same on the Thesaurus pane.

But the Microsoft Editor is a separate system and does have synonyms for resume.

We’re not being critical of Microsoft developers.  They have a hard job trying to teach a computer how to understand the vagaries of human languages.  Our purpose is to help people understand the unavoidable pitfalls of Word and why not to absolutely trust Word’s spelling and grammar checking.

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