Fonts do matter!
You’ve got about 1000 things to worry about with your job search, the last thing you need is to worry about is what kind of fonts you should use in your résumé.
The fact is, using the wrong font type and size can either help your résumé get through the computer ATS and appease the human reader or it will get it trashed before it even had a chance.
That’s how powerful a font can be! Who knew?
And in case you’re wondering what I mean by font, that’s the typeface or style of lettering.
With so many options to choose from, what do you do?
I recommend that you pick a typeface that’s first and foremost, easy to read and that is compatible with most people’s systems (not all fonts can be read by every system).
This is what you must keep in mind when choosing a font – hiring managers, and recruiters can spend all day reading through résumés. You want yours to be easy to skim quickly by being “easy on the eye”.
You also want to choose something that is universally-readable. That means most people will have no problem reading the font on their screen. If you pick some unconventional design that you have to download, it might not be readable on some screens.
Serif or Sans Serif?
The first thing you need to decide is are you going with a serif or sans-serif font?
Serif fonts are typically more “classic” in style and have embellishments or “tails” on each letter. The tails might be really obvious or they might be very subtle.
For instance, this is “Georgia” which is a serif font.
Many people feel that a serif font is easier to read because the letters flow from one to the other, making it easier for the eye to read the sentence. I personally don’t agree with this.
Sans serif fonts have no embellishments. They are blocker and have more of a clean, contemporary look. The font I’m using now is sans serif.
I tend to opt for the sans serif, but there are some great choices in serif.
Regardless of the style you use, you want the font to be clear, legible, and scalable. There are some fonts that look great small but not large and vice versa. You need to try them out in different ways.
What’s the optimal font size for a résumé?
Generally speaking, the font size shouldn’t be smaller than 10 point but it depends on the typeface.
You might have to go as big as 11 or 12 point in the body of the résumé if you’re using a font that’s small to begin with.
Alternatively, you might need to go as small as 10 point if it’s a particularly large font design.
In any event, pick a size that is easy to read on the computer screen since that’s where most résumés are going to be read.
What kind of style is best?
Pick a style that is suitable for the industry you are targeting.
If it’s a conservative industry like the financial services sector, you might opt for something that’s less flashy.
If it’s an industry that values creativity and individualism, you could go for something a bit more stylized. Use your best judgement.
I personally, would go with something that’s less commonly used because it will stand out more as being “unique”.
Therefore, the fonts you might want to avoid are Arial, Times New Roman, and Helvetica because they tend to be over-used.
To see what the fonts look like you can Google font styles very easily or scroll down the page where I uploaded the font images.
Top fonts to use in your résumé
This has been my go-to font for the last while. It replaced Times New Roman as the default Microsoft Word typeface and is an excellent option for a safe, universally readable sans serif font.
It tends to the font of choice for résumé writers because it’s easy to read on a screen and it is pretty compact so it doesn’t take up too much space.
Avenir Next LT Pro
The Avenir Next font family was designed by Adrian Frutiger in collaboration with Monotype Type Director Akira Kobayashi.
The font is incredibly popular for because it fits a wide range of applications. It’s used widely in print and on-screen. Many companies use it for their official literature as well as in their logos.
LG uses the Avenir Next design on cell phone buttons because it’s easy to read which is important in everyday use and emergency situations.
Gill Sans MT
It was promoted by Monotype as a design of “classic simplicity and real beauty”.
Because it is clearly legible at small sizes or at a distance, it is widely used in books, timetables, price lists, posters, and advertisements. For that reason, it’s a good choice for a résumé.
Lato means “summer” is Polish. It was designed in the summer of 2010 by Warsaw-based designer Łukasz Dziedzic, hence the name. It’s an open-source font that can be downloaded for free as per the SIL Open Font License agreement.
This is what Lato looks like on the screen.
This is a great option if you don’t want to go with the over-used and boring Arial or Verdana. It was designed to be legible on a screen. It’s has a nice textured, modern look.
This is a really safe bet (although boring) because the lines are clean and it’s easy to read. You will want to avoid this one if you don’t want to be like everyone else.
This is what Arial looks like on the screen.
This design harkens back to the Monotype 20th Century, which was drawn by Sol Hess between 1936 and 1947 and is influenced by the geometric style sans serif faces which were popular during the 1920’s and 30’s.
It’s a good choice if you want to use another font style in your résumé for the section headings, your name, and possibly the employer names and job titles.
The Lucida Font Family was designed by Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes in 1985 to be used for low or medium and low-resolution digital printers and displays.
It has a strong clean style which is based on the traditional Roman letterforms. Lucida is considered one of the original “super families” and remains one of the largest font collections to date.
This is one of the newer Microsoft sans serif typefaces which is considered a “new standard” in system font design. It is ideal for a résumé that’s going to be viewed on a screen which is what happens in most cases.
This typeface was designed by world renowned type designer Matthew Carter and is considered a great example of a type design that was made to address the challenges of reading blocks of text on a computer screen.
It’s a well-balanced design that allows it to be appealing even when it’s used in a small size.
Many designers and typographers opt for this clean and modern typeface. It’s actually been used in many corporate brand logos Jeep, Panasonic and Lufthansa and apparently, on New York City subway signs.
It’s considered to be the “business” style typeface that’s a good option if you are applying to office jobs.
Helvetica comes preloaded on Macs, but PC users can download it from The Fonty.
Many people in the creative industry use Didot because it’s considered distinctive and sophisticated.
However, it is a bit on the delicate side, so it’s best used in larger sizes on a résumé, so you might want to use it for the headings or your name or anywhere else you are using a larger size.
This is another Microsoft Word font created in 2004 and was designed to work well for “on-screen reading and to look good when printed in small sizes.” It’s a solid, traditional option.
This is a more old-style font that was named after 16th century French type designer Claude Garamond.
You can use this throughout the résumé because it’s easy to read and works well where there is a lot of text.
While it appears to be a sans serif typeface, it’s considered serif – the embellishments on the letters are very subtle.
This 2006 font was commissioned by Microsoft and designed by John Hudson who was inspired by Eric Gill’s Perpetua design.
Constantia is part of the ClearType Font Collection which is comprised of fonts (all starting with the letter “C) from various designers released with Windows Vista. The other font styles are Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas and Corbel. This family of fonts are well suited to be read on screens.
As the story goes, Georgia was jokingly named after a tabloid headline “Alien heads found in Georgia.”
This font was designed in 1996 by Matthew Carter to be read on computer screens and is available on virtually any computer.
It’s a traditional-looking alternative to the often ridiculed Times New Roman. Yes, even in the font world there is controversy.
This is a classic font like Palatino and is a great option to replace the often-maligned Times New Roman.
It’s a universal font that’s easily read on a screen. The design is a roman typeface that was based on pen-drawn letter of the Italian Renaissance.
The Bell typeface was created by Richard Austin way back in 1788 for the British Letter Foundry.
This typeface was popular with newspapers and magazines and then faded out. It was brought back to life by Monotype Corp. in 1931 where it made the transition from analog to digital.
Once Microsoft bundled it as part of the Microsoft Office installation, it has become more popular.
Bookman Old Style
This typeface has its roots in the Oldstyle Antique, designed by A C Phemister circa 1858 for the Miller and Richard foundry in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It’s a good choice for résumés and other career documents because it’s very legible with a robust text face with good “weight”.
This font was created by Hermann Zapf in 1986 and is a fine and contemporary typeface with a touch of elegance.
Palatino has various font weights to offer including light, medium, black, old italic, bold italic and other options to choose from.
This font works well on screen due to its thin letterforms and generous spacing which makes it easy to read.
Goudy Old Style
The Goudy family of fonts were designed by Frederic W. Goudy, a master type designer who created more than 100 typefaces.
Goudy Old Style was designed for American Type Founders in 1915-1916 and were inspired by the cap lettering on a Renaissance painting.
Baskerville Old Face
This font was designed by John Baskerville and George William Jones in 1929.
It is one of the most used serif fonts of today due to it’s smooth and appealing design. It was crafted as part of a font package that has a calligraphy and stonecutting touch.
Bodoni is considered one of the most elegant typefaces ever designed. The style is versatile and lends itself well to various applications.
It’s often used in headings and display uses, in upmarket magazine printing, and as body text due to its legibility.
Fonts you should avoid altogether
Comic Sans – Your résumé is not a comic book
Impact – It’s incredibly hard to read and just looks bad
Papyrus – Great if you’re applying for a job in an Egyptian pyramid, otherwise don’t use it
Brushscript MT – It’s over-used and just looks cliche
Courier – This is the old-fashioned typewriter style lettering which is too lightweight and hard to read
Times New Roman – it’s highly overused and I don’t think it’s that legible
Here’s what the fonts look like:
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