You can see in the aboutCV page of Stackoverflow Careers site that the word resumes is mentioned — not résumés or résumés.

What should be the common practice here?
What about other words like café?

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    There are some bogus ones like Pokémon and Zoë too. – delete Aug 6 '10 at 6:42
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    or if you want to just be cool put metal umlauts on random vowels, otherwise known as röck döts: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_umlaut – Edward Tanguay Aug 6 '10 at 9:43
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    Famously used by the UK kitchen supplier Moben, who place an umlaut over the 'o' to appear Germanic with all its connotations (precision, build quality), but who are based on a Manchester industrial estate. – njd Aug 6 '10 at 15:08
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    @njd And perhaps even more famously used by ice cream makers Häagen-Dazs, a name specifically invented by its founders "to look Scandinavian to American eyes (despite the fact that the digraphs "äa" and "zs" are not part of any native words in any of the Scandinavian languages)". – calum_b Aug 15 '11 at 15:10
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    The accent in Zoë isn't bogus ... it's a diaresis that is there to make sure you don't pronounce it Zo. – Peter Shor Dec 24 '11 at 12:52

The accents in résumé are helpful in distinguishing it from the verb resume. (The word café doesn't have this problem.) I wouldn't be surprised if the dropping of accents is an artefact of typesetting--British and American printers didn't necessarily have accented forms of latin characters.

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    It's useful for distinguishing a noun from a verb? How about giving us an example where it would really be ambiguous. – Alan Hogue Aug 8 '10 at 0:52
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    Dropping accents could also be an artifact of typewriter and computer keyboards not having them. – Dan Feb 3 '11 at 7:32

The diacritics no longer serve their purpose in most cases of providing phonetic information and it can be said that they are largely being obsoleted. There are cases where their use is important though, e.g., as a form of social signaling, just as knowing the etymological origin of English words, especially from Latin and Greek marked a person as educated.

For example, résumé is word that you will often see.. Knowing these diacritics (and probably the origin and the raison d'être) highlights you as knowledgeable, especially to a potential employer. In another case, you would never scribble a note to your neighbor to take care of the fish because you booked a night at your favorite hôtel. Certain words have retained them, while many others haven't. I would say the choice to use them comes to a choice of register in a social context.


It's rare these days to see diacritics in words that were borrowed a long time ago and have become essentially "nativized". That certainly includes resume and cafe. You do occasionally see them used, especially in older writing or in cases where an air of foreignness is desired.

I would say that it's ok to use them, but you should be aware that it will stand out somewhat to most readers and is not really standard anymore.

  • Ok, I didn't realize diacritics were no longer a standard, but then again, that's hardly surprising for a native French guy... – VonC Aug 6 '10 at 7:30
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    Well, I would put it this way, using the diacritics in these words is notably conservative. You still see résumé as the citation form in Websters, for instance, but they also list resume as a variant. But if you google it, you'll find that the former is quite rare. – Alan Hogue Aug 6 '10 at 9:04
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    It may include "resume" in the US, but here in the UK, where prospective employees compile a curriculum vitae (CV) rather than a résumé, it always momentarily confuses me when I see "resume" rather than "résumé" in the job market context. (For that matter, it's still very common to see café rather than cafe, here, too.) – calum_b Aug 15 '11 at 15:14
  • US usage: in academia they use CVs, while in business they use résumés (or resumes). – GEdgar Dec 24 '11 at 17:36

When writing people's names, it's necessary and in many cases will help with the pronunciation because names can be pronounced in a variety of ways.

Beyoncé is one example. I'm sure others can think of some more.

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    I like to use them in people's names when they have taken the trouble to use them themselves. – Alex Trueman Feb 9 '11 at 13:58
  • Atømix is another example :) – altern Feb 26 '12 at 8:34

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