The Best Resume Fonts
Your resume is polished and honed to perfection, expertly edited to fit onto one or two pages.
You are confident that you have picked out key skills, experience and qualifications that are relevant to the job.
Even your personal interest section is written to show your value as a candidate.
The one thing that has received no consideration, however, is the size and type of the resume font you have used.
A font is an individually designed lettering and numbering set. Fonts fall into one of the following classifications:
- Serif; for example, Times New Roman and Garamond
- Sans Serif, such as Helvetica and Arial
- Script, like Lobster and Brush Script
- Decorative, such as Circus or Spring
Generally, for a resume font, a serif or sans serif is your best option.
With most recruiters and employers taking six to 30 seconds to initially scan your resume, using the best font and size to improve readability must be part of your resume or CV design process.
Hiring a professional resume writer is one way to make the best impression at this point, but if you know the key rules, you can easily make a well-designed resume at home.
When an employer looks at your resume, the first thing they will notice is the font you use.
It may not be a conscious thought of, “I wonder why they chose Times New Roman?”, but your font choice will affect the impression that your resume gives and how quickly key information can be found.
Remember, they may take as little as six seconds to scan your resume before deciding if you are of interest or a definite ‘no’. Make it simple for them by using a font that is easy to read.
The recruiter or employer may look at a paper version of your resume, view it on a computer screen or, increasingly, access it on-the-go through their mobile phone. Readability is therefore key.
Using a font that is easy to read is doubly important when you consider that many US employers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to sort through candidate resumes.
An ATS searches for desired criteria such as skills, employers and qualifications. If your chosen font is illegible in any way to the ATS, it may miss criteria matches in your resume.
Even though you may have the exact experience and skills that the employer wants, if the ATS cannot handle your font of choice your resume may well be rejected.
The resume font you use also reflects a level or lack of professionalism.
A straightforward, easily-to-read font is likely to give the impression of an individual who is well-organized, efficient and able to communicate effectively.
An inappropriate font, such as Comic Sans, or one that is difficult to read, such as an ornate calligraphy font, may imply that the candidate has little understanding of what the employer is looking for.
The size of the font that you use can also be an important factor.
A good resume font size aids readability. If it is too small, words may be misread or an employer may simply give up and stop reading. An ideal resume font size is between 11 and 12 for body text.
Despite an ever-growing range of available fonts, recruiters still favor the classic fonts when it comes to resumes. These might include:
- Times New Roman
- Book Antiqua
The main reason for this favoritism is readability. They want to take as little time as possible to scan your resume for the exact information they need, for instance:
- If you have the required qualifications
- Whether you have worked for competing firms in the past
- If you have all the key skills for the role
Second, the use of a classic font and a clean, simple layout gives an overall impression of professionalism and, therefore, the assumption that the candidate will be equally as professional.
There are also modern versions of classic fonts, such as Roboto Slab instead of Times New Roman or Open Sans instead of Calibri.
Whether you choose a serif or sans serif, the following fonts will provide a clear, easy-to-read impression. All of these are available as default through Microsoft Word.
The first recommended sans serif is Arial. It is a very common font and not just because it is at the top of the alphabetized list in Word – it is a classic and reliable font that is easy to read.
Just as classic and reliable as Arial, Arial Narrow can save on space when your resume threatens to spill onto too many pages. It has the same structure as Arial but in a thinner form.
Book Antiqua is a serif font regularly used in resumes. This font is a more distinctive version of Times New Roman.
Garamond is a classical serif alternative to Times New Roman, and ideal for academic or teaching resumes or for candidates who have a long, respected track-record.
Georgia is a sturdy serif font, easily legible for on-screen reading. As with Garamond and Book Antiqua, this is a great alternative to Times New Roman for a bit of distinguished flair.
Gill Sans is a sans serif font. It gives a modern, clean look to your resume but should be handled with care when using bold.
Probably the main font people turn to when using a serif font, Times New Roman’s only downfall is the fact that it is so widely used. This is likely not the best font to use for your resume if you want to stand out.
There is a wide range of fonts, both serif and sans serif, that offer good readability when used in your resume. There are also many bad resume fonts, which should be avoided:
Created in the 1990s to resemble the type in comic book speech bubbles, Comic Sans gives a casual, childish impression.
This font may be readable, but it looks unprofessional and may cause a recruiter to immediately disregard your resume.
Even its updated version, Comic Neue, still looks immature, although it is one of the more dyslexia-friendly fonts so is sometimes used in schools.
There are many attractive scripts and decorative fonts available to you, but they are rarely suitable for a resume.
First, they can reduce the readability of your resume and, second, they will generally require more space than a serif or sans serif font, meaning you fit less information in your limited resume space.
Finally, depending on the font you use, they may look unnecessarily fussy and give an unprofessional impression to a recruiter’s eye.
Light fonts are generally a delicate version of an existing font such as Open Sans or Calibri.
While they carry many of the same characteristics as the font they are drawn from, they are more difficult to read because the characters are thinner and smaller.
This is an especial problem when an ATS is used to scan your resume.
Designed to mimic typewritten text, Courier carries a number of problems when used in a resume.
First, it has an old-fashioned yet not classic look. Second, the monospaced layout, which gives the same space to every letter regardless of width, can be uncomfortable to read.
Once you have chosen which font to use, you can add style to your resume by doing any of the following:
Make your headings and subheadings stand out by using bold, italics and capital letters. Remember, however, that if your resume is viewed online, links appear as underlined. Make sure these cannot be confused with underlined headings.
Equally, headings and subheadings can be made distinctive from the body text by increasing their font size to between 13 and 16.
Be consistent with whatever style elements you use; all headings should be the same and all body text should be the same.
Use carefully chosen, minimal style elements to avoid a fussy and distracting resume. You want your resume’s style to elevate your writing and not distract from it.
Unless you work in the creative industry, stick to black print for your resume. Any other color may be difficult to read, especially by an ATS.
Consider whether it is appropriate or not to include a photo – this varies from country to country.
Now that you understand how important your choice of font and font size can be, here are more tips to consider when writing your resume:
Only use one font to create a consistent, easy-to-read resume. You can use bold and italic versions of it for headings or emphasis. Consistency suggests reliability, conscientiousness and good organization skills.
Keep italics for headings and subheadings. Italicized words in a body of text may prove difficult to read, especially by an ATS, or distract human readers from the flow of your words.
Make use of font styling, such as bold, underlining and capitalization to create visual impact. Be consistent though, and refrain from including too many elements.
Keep the font size for body text between 11 and 12. Any less may be difficult to read. Any more will take up too much space.
Font size for headings and subheadings should be between 13 and 16. Headings should stand out and make it easier to navigate a resume. But remember, the larger the font you use for headings, the less space you will have for the rest of your resume.
Do not be tempted to use narrow margins to fit in more text than with standard margins. Narrow margins will make your resume look cramped and may indicate you find being concise difficult. They may also affect readability by an ATS or when viewed by someone online.
Single line spacing will make your resume look too cramped, but double line spacing will take up too much room. Instead, use 1.15pt line spacing.
You may want to choose your font to suit the industry or job you are applying for; for instance, Times New Roman and Garamond are generally seen as suitable for academic positions whereas a modern-looking font such as Gill Sans might work better in a resume for an IT-related position.
Remember that, even if you send in a paper resume, it is likely that it will be scanned by an ATS or copied to be viewed online. Your resume font and font size must be readable whether in paper format, on a screen, or viewed by an ATS.
If you are unsure which font to use, experiment. Check how your resume looks in Arial, then Calibri, then Times New Roman, and so on. Find the font that makes your resume stand out and which reflects who you are as a person.
Consistency of font does not only matter in your resume. Match your cover letter or email font too. Think of your complete application as a matching set.
With the number of resumes that a recruiter must read each day and the short length of time that they may spend on yours, choosing the right font and font size can make the difference between an instant rejection due to poor readability or a quick scan to see if you have just the right skills for the job.
Give your resume the best chance possible of success by putting time into considering not only the content but also the presentation.