Fonts on your resume can be a big deal. Believe it or not, they can make or break it, and it’s best to find the ideal style before getting started on your job hunt.
Choosing the best font for a resume can be a difficult task. The best resume fonts depend on what type of job you are applying to and who will be reading it. Let’s look at different best practices that you should follow when choosing a font for your resume.
Importance of fonts on your resume
People often underestimate the significance of the font that you use on your resume. They make a difference with how professional and organized your resume looks.
Fonts are more than just how your words are presented. Fonts emit things like:
An excellent, readable font can make your resume look more eye-popping, catching the eye of a hiring manager and showing the bold, professional tone you are trying to give off.
A font that is too tricky to read can convey a lack of organization and attention to detail, both of which could reflect how successfully you can execute a task in the eyes of a hiring manager. A flashier, harder-to-read font may draw attention away from what matters in a resume: your skills and experience that benefit someone recruiting you for company.
Too often, experienced professionals find that their resumes are getting overlooked because of the fonts used. That is why it is essential to choose the right font for your resume.
How to choose the best resume font
The best default font for your resume is the one that will make it easy to read. You want a clear and easy font to read, no matter its size. Some fonts are more challenging to read when they are small, while others are difficult to read when they are large.
Some fonts are better than others for resumes, though.
The most common font used on resumes is called a serif font. Serif fonts have small strokes at the end of each letter. (Those strokes are the serifs.) As Adobe Creative Cloud points out, serif fonts are viewed as more “authoritative” and “professional.” They “are suggestive of typewriters’ old style,” they say,
Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand, are fonts that don’t have those strokes at the end of the letters.
The font you are reading now is a sans-serif font. You see how all of the letters have a strict ending? Sans serif fonts are seen as more modern fonts used for company branding and modern technology. They are generally easier to read on smaller screens.
In either sense, a serif or sans serif font may be best for you. Either one of these styles of font can help make your resume more polished and professional while still personal. But now, we’ll look at what specific fonts are best (and worst) for your resume.
Best fonts for a resume
Now is when we lock down the best font for resumes. Because we talked about serif fonts and sans serif fonts individually, we feel it’s fair to take a look at the best resume fonts in each of these categories, followed by what they look like against white backgrounds (as your resume should largely be, which we’ll discuss soon).
Best Serif Fonts for a Resume:
- Times New Roman
Best San Serif Fonts for a Resume:
Now, each of these fonts may be better for different situations. You have lots of different sections on your resume, too, and you might not use the same font for each one. These different sections include:
- Body of your resume (bulleted experience,
- Dates worked at a company/attended school
- Contact information
At the same juncture, you still want some level of consistency across your resume. Don’t use different fonts for each job you worked–keep the same fonts across all body copy (the bulk of what you write on your resume). You also want to keep the same fonts across each header. However, your body copy and headers fonts may be different.
If you are a more conservative person, or your field of work is more traditional, then perhaps Times New Roman or another serif font would be the best font for a resume. It gives off an air of formality and competence and is an excellent traditional font. If you’re a younger or more energetic and bold person, the right sans serif font may be best for your resume.
There are some fonts that can land in the middle of these two ends like Cambria or Helvetica.
All of this, though, comes down to personal choice. These fonts are meant as a guide and to give to a range of choices to choose from. Now, let’s look at what fonts you should avoid.
Types of fonts to avoid
The 10 fonts mentioned above aren’t the only fonts you should choose for your resume. However, there are certain styles of fonts you should absolutely avoid on your resume. These include any fonts that are:
Some examples of these are the dreaded Comic Sans and Papyrus. Though these fonts have their own personalities, they’re not meant for resumes and professional settings.
Be careful when considering Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, as well, especially if that’s the preset font on whatever platform you are creating your resume with. These are the most frequently used fonts, and they can make your resume look generic, especially if your font color is black top to bottom.
On that note, once you’ve settled on a font for your resume, what sizes and colors should you use?
Resume Font Size
This is a pretty straightforward part.
While there’s no rulebook that says headers should be one size, your name should be another, and all your descriptions should be another, you’re going to want your name and section headers to stand out the most. Those will both be larger fonts (between 14pt and 20pt) than the rest of the information on your resume.
For the rest of the information on your resume, you want to choose a font that’s easy enough to read through but isn’t too big or too small (12pt for most applications). Using anything bigger than 12pt or 13pt font could take up too much space and push your resume to larger than one page. That is something you want to avoid.
Also, it’s best not to go any smaller than 11pt font. Anything under 11pt may be too hard to read, making the story of your resume useless.
All of this depends on which base font you choose. A 12pt New York Times font takes up different space than a 12pt Helvetica font. Once the content of your resume is written and formatted, play around with font size of the main body of your text (between 11-13pt font) to see if making it bigger or smaller affects how well-rounded the overall page is. The same goes for headers and category titles.
Take a bird’s eye view of the resume and see if making the font slightly bigger reduces the amount of white space you have. Similarly, maybe reducing font size by a point will trim down a line or two of text without having to cut down on the content while keeping the resume legible.
Italics, bolding, and underlines on your resume
Italics, bolded words, and underlines are great when used tastefully on your resume. These are good for emphasis. Italicizing, bolding, and underlining can:
- Highlight important information on your resume
- Define clear sections of your resume
- Draw eyeballs to certain points of your resume
For example, maybe each section of your resume (Job Experience, Education, Skills) is bolded and underlined, each job you list is bolded, and the locations of the jobs are italicized.
The main body of your text should never be bolded, italicized, or underlined. Leave these tools for job titles, locations, headers, certification, names of educational institutions, and things of that nature. Just as bolding words can help make certain main parts of your resume stand out, leaving larger groups of text unbolded can stand out from what is bolded. If half of your document is bolded and italicized, you won’t have anything that stands out.
When used smartly, though, italics, bolding, and underlines can be an effective way of drawing attention to certain sections and words on your resume.
What color should my resume font be?
The main text of your resume should be black, so it’s easy to read under any circumstance. (Your resume should be printed and displayed on white paper, too.) This doesn’t mean your entire document needs to be black-colored font, though. Some resume designs see certain blocks or sections of your resume highlighted with lightly shaded colors.
If there are any specific colors you’d prefer to use for headers or your name instead of black, go ahead and try them out. However, keep in mind that these colors could potentially clash against what you want hiring managers and recruiters to actually read: your resume’s story.
Tips for using the right fonts
Once you’ve settled on a font, or if you’re still debating which font to use, here are a couple of tips to follow (some of which we’re mentioning for the 17th time–because they’re important):
- Use a font that is easy to read and looks professional.
- It is always best to choose a conservative style and fonts when creating your resume if in doubt.
- Settle on one primary typeface for your entire document. Don’t have four or five typefaces used throughout. Use two typefaces total at maximum. There can be variations, as we’ve mentioned, especially when it comes to font size, boldness and tone.
- When in doubt, it’s always better safe than sorry when choosing your fonts. Use a conservative style if you’re worried and go easy on the creative fonts.
- Test out different fonts in different settings. What looks great on your computer screen may not look great when printed out or emailed.
- Take proper care of your resume by using a quality printer and selecting the “print as image” option in your print settings.
- Print on white paper. If a font type or color doesn’t stand out on white paper, change it.
- Keep the formatting consistent throughout your resume, as we mentioned before. Headers should all be the same font, size, color, etc., as should body copy and other categories of your resume.
- Proofread! This doesn’t have anything to do with fonts, really, but we can’t reiterate it enough. Typos make it seem like you didn’t take your resume seriously enough to check it over.
All in all, though…
Keep it simple and straightforward
Your font won’t matter if your resume content is scattered, disorganized, or hard to read. Fonts do a good job of showing professionalism and personality, but you know what else does? Your job experience and skills, and those are the most important parts of your resume.
It’s vital that you keep all this content as clean and organized as possible. If there is too much going on in one section, chances are someone may skip over those parts difficult to read. It won’t matter what font you have at that point.
Keeping everything simple and straightforward while telling the story of your job history will be what gets you the call. The font of your resume will help you accomplish that goal.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best font for a resume. It is essential to consider how best to present yourself professionally while ensuring that your resume is readable.
We hope this article has helped guide you with what fonts are best suited for resumes. Head on over to the Insight Global job board, if you’re interesting in joining Insight Global’s premier talent pool. You’ll have recruiters we talked about in this post looking for resumes that stand out!