- Your resume should be easily readable, so oddball fonts should be avoided at all costs.
- Fonts generally fall within two categories: serif and sans-serif. Knowing the difference will help you home in on the style you’re looking for.
- The typeface you choose is just part of the equation for a successful resume. Remember that a small font size is harder to read.
- This article is for people looking to spruce up their resumes, whether they’re looking for a new job or not.
Searching for a new job means having to make a large number of decisions, from your potential salary range to how far you’re willing to commute. Yet one tiny decision could mean the difference between getting yourself in front of a potential employer and getting ignored altogether: your resume’s font.
Fonts to consider
With myriad typeface options to choose from, selecting a font that both spotlights your sense of style while remaining as readable as possible is critical. Choose the wrong font, and your resume could land at the bottom of a trash can – despite your skills and years of experience – according to Steven Davis, a career coach with The Muse and J.P. Morgan Chase.
“We only have one chance to make a first impression, so when someone opens a [resume], those first eight or nine seconds is that first impression,” he said. “If the font isn’t appealing and easy on the eyes, that person clicks off the document and the candidate is toast.”
After discussing what fonts would work best on a resume with Davis, and conducting some research of our own, we found the following fonts to be your go-to choices to start out:
- Book Antiqua
- Trebuchet MS
To avoid getting passed by, you should consider the fact that hiring managers and recruiters spend hours each day thumbing through thousands of documents. Fonts that have enough white space to read well on both screen and print will make your resume more accessible, Davis says.
Regardless of whether the font you choose is in the serif or sans-serif font family, the following fonts are considered some of the best to use, according to resume and career experts:
Having replaced Times New Roman as the default Microsoft Word font, Calibri is an excellent option for a safe, universally readable sans-serif font. Davis described the typeface as his “font of choice” when working with clients. Professional resume writer Donna Svei, also a strong advocate of Calibri, noted in her blog how smoothly it renders on computer screens.
This serif font is another Microsoft Word staple. Created back in 2004, this typeface was designed to work well for “on-screen reading and to look good when printed at small sizes.” Christian Eilers, a resume expert at Zety, said the font was a great choice for resumes and cover letters, even if it’s often considered one of the more “traditional” options.
Job seekers looking for an old-style font may want to consider using Garamond for their resumes. Named after 16th century French type designer Claude Garamont, this typeface is a “great choice for academic resumes and for those with years’ worth of work experience,” wrote Anastasia Belyh on Cleverism.
If you work in a creative industry like fashion or photography, you can showcase your style and sophistication with Didot. A Canva Design School blog post called this serif font “distinctive and classy,” praising its upscale look. However, author Janie Kliever cautioned job seekers that, since delicate serifs display best at larger sizes, you may want to use Didot only for headings on your resume. Download it from UFonts.
If you want a traditional-looking alternative to the oft-overused Times New Roman, consider switching to Georgia. A Colorado Technical University infographic on Mashable recommended using Georgia because of its readability: The font was designed to be read on screens and is available on any computer.
This clean, modern, sans-serif font is a favorite among designers and typographers. Helvetica appears in numerous corporate brand logos (Jeep, Panasonic and Lufthansa) and even on New York City subway signs. In an article on Bloomberg Business, typography expert Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design described it as “professional, lighthearted and honest,” noting that it reads as “business-y.” Helvetica comes preloaded on Macs, but PC users can download it from Getty Fonts.
If you want to use a sans-serif font, Arial is considered by many to be the safest bet. Barbara Safani, executive resume writer, career coach, job search strategist and president of Career Solvers, told AOL Jobs that she likes to see the Arial font because the lines are clean and it’s easy to read. While it’s still largely considered a good choice, it’s worth noting that Arial has become common enough for some hiring managers to find it boring, according to a post on Canva.
Based on the classic Palatino font, Book Antiqua has a “distinctive and gentle” style that’s great for anyone looking to use a serif font without having to rely on the oft-maligned Times New Roman. Since it’s readily available on Microsoft machines, this typeface will be easily read on a screen, making it easier for hiring managers and recruiters to learn more about you.
Job seekers who want a sans-serif typeface but don’t want to use Arial or Verdana can switch to Trebuchet MS. According to ZipJob, this font was specifically designed to appear well on a screen. It’s also a bit more textured and modern-looking than many traditional resume fonts.
Designed as a standard font in the original release of Windows 95, Tahoma is considered a “humanist sans-serif” font, which means it mimics traditional letterforms. It’s very similar to Verdana in style, though you’ll notice it has a narrower feel overall.
Other resume font choices
Along with our picks, here are some other popular resume font choices that are clear, legible and scalable:
- Serif – Bell MT, Bodoni MT, Bookman Old Style, Goudy Old Style
- Sans-serif – Century Gothic, Gill Sans MT, Lucida Sans
Key takeaway: There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to fonts for your resume, but remember that your decision matters, since it’s likely your first impression with a potential employer.
Font isn’t everything…
When sitting down to start writing your resume, keep in mind that the typeface you choose is just the first step. Remember that the ultimate goal is to highlight your qualities and get you in the door for an interview. Davis warns that things like size and formatting are just as important as which font you use.
“When I go to sleep at night, I close my eyes and I see bullets everywhere. Almost every resume I see has bullets and some people use fonts that strain the eye,” he said.
You should also consider the job you’re applying for when putting your resume together. If you’re looking to get into a more creative field, it’s okay to use more unconventional fonts, Davis said.
“By the time a hiring manager gets to you, is that font going to captivate them? Even a minor issue like having a too-small font could be a deal breaker,” he said. “It might be inconsequential, but it’s a factor.”
Select the right font size
Arial may still be a staple of resume builders everywhere, he said, but making it smaller than 10 points makes it “one of the most difficult fonts to read.” In fact, according to YieldBird, major news organizations don’t go smaller than 12pt font. That’s because smaller text is harder to read, regardless of what typeface you choose.
How big your text is will also affect other elements on your resume, like the amount of white space, which should be kept to a minimum. And while the body of your text should be a readable and consistent size throughout, your resume headings should be large enough to catch the readers’ eye. By separating each heading with a larger point of reference, you give whoever’s choosing potential candidates the ability to quickly scan your resume while the meat of your resume containing your job description and other qualities should be 11 point.
Key takeaway: Keep font size in mind when selecting your font and building your resume. If the font is too small, it can be hard to read, which may be off-putting to hiring managers or potential employers.
Additional reporting by Business News Daily staff members. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.