The right font makes your resume stand out in all the right ways

The experts say it takes 6 seconds (or less) for a hiring manager to decide if your resume is a keeper – and the font size and style you choose will have a major impact on that decision.

A font that in any way makes your resume hard to read or look unprofessional will land it quickly in the trash pile. You could be the most competent candidate, but you'll be out of the running from the beginning if your resume can't be read easily.

To help ensure that your qualifications and experience are the main focus, and not your font choice, here are the best fonts to use for your resume.

The best fonts to use on a resume

Of course, a lot of what goes into picking the right font for your resume depends on personal preference, but you should choose from a particular set of best fonts to ensure that your resume doesn't get passed over. 

The fonts listed below will all work well on a resume because of their clean, professional look and overall easy readability. Keep in mind that you have to choose a font that is clean and easy to read both on-screen and in print.

  • Calibri

  • Cambria

  • Arial

  • Helvetica

  • Tahoma

  • Trebuchet

  • Verdana

  • Garamond

  • Times New Roman

Calibri font for a resume

Calibri is known for being contemporary and professional, which makes it suitable for use in a variety of industries. It's well-spaced, clean, and easy to read. Additionally, it's read accurately by an applicant tracking system, or ATS. Calibri is the one to choose if you can't decide which you like the most. 

Pros of using Calibri:

  • Modern look

  • Professional appearance

  • Lighter size so you can fit more words on a page

Cons of using Calibri:

  • Everyone else is using it, so it lacks uniqueness

  • Can be considered unprofessional by some industries like law and finance

Cambria font for a resume

Cambria was originally designed to be easily read on screen. It has good spacing and nice proportions, which means it can be simple to read even in low-resolution situations. The way it's designed even lends itself well to being read when printed in a small size.

Pros of using Cambria:

  • It has an elegance that can make your resume visually appealing

  • As a Microsoft Word font, you will probably not lose formatting when sharing the resume file

  • It's suitable for a variety of jobs across multiple industries

Cons of using Cambria:

  • It was designed in 2007 and can be seen as old-fashioned

  • It's a heavy serif font, which may make it difficult to keep your resume to two pages

Arial font for a resume

Arial is one of those tried and true fonts that have stood the test of time. Interestingly enough, it was designed to have the same width as the characters in the Helvetica typeface – which is great if you intend to use multiple fonts on your resume. Some people will choose to use one font for the body text and another for the headers. 

Pros of using Arial:

  • It's a clean and simple font to use on your resume

  • Arial is easy to read even if you're using a 10-point font

  • It's ATS-friendly

Cons of using Arial:

  • It arguably lacks the sophistication of newer fonts

  • Some feel that it's a less-than-formal font style, especially if you're applying for a creative role

Helvetica font for a resume

We already mentioned how Helvetica pairs well with Arial. It's a bit more elegant than Arial, so it would work well for the section headers of your resume. The really great thing about Helvetica is that it has a wider range of font weights than Arial, which will really help your resume to stand out. 

Pros of using Helvetica:

  • Helvetica exudes professionalism

  • It has a clean and straightforward design and a high readability factor

  • It makes your resume look clean and well-structured

Cons of using Helvetica:

  • Some people may see Helvetica as too clean and neutral, making your resume seem sterile and without personality

  • It has a dense design with tight spacing, which could make it difficult to read when you use a smaller font size

Tahoma font for a resume

Tahoma is considered a reliable font for people who want a modern, sans-serif font with a balanced appearance. Over the years, it has become a popular choice for a lot of digital applications because of how easy it is to read. It doesn't have a lot of decorative strokes, which gives it a clean appearance.

Pros of using Tahoma:

  • It's a great font to use for both headline and body text

  • Because of how the letters lay out, it's easy for on-screen reading

  • It's suitable for a wide range of professions

Cons of using Tahoma:

  • It's not as widely used as Arial and may, therefore, be less recognizable

  • Even though it's a Microsoft default font, not all versions of Microsoft Word have it 

Trebuchet font for a resume

Medieval war device or popular font? Surprisingly enough, when the Trebuchet font was designed, it really was named after those machines that slung huge boulders in the ages of old. The man who created it, Vincent Connare, wanted to give it a name that would signal something that “launches words across the Internet.” 

Pros of using Trebuchet:

  • Trebuchet is a great font for injecting personality into your resume

  • There's good spacing between characters, making it easy to read on- and off-screen

  • It's appealing without being grandiose – consider the little tail on the capital 'Q' 

Cons of using Trebuchet:

  • It's not very commonly used and could cause formatting oopsies when sharing your resume file

  • There are some variations in the character widths, which may cause you to have trouble keeping your resume to two pages

Verdana font for a resume

Verdana is one of the best fonts to use for a resume, because it was specifically designed to be legible at small sizes, on screen and off. In fact, it's known for having wide proportions and loose letter spacing so that text is clearly separated, guaranteeing that what's on the page is easy to read.

Pros of using Verdana:

  • Since it was designed for low-resolution on-screen reading, it's great for online applications and resume submissions

  • Verdana also has distinct letter characteristics - like a little square over the 'i' and 'j' -  which make it unique

  • It has different weights available, giving you options for design variations between section headers and body text

Cons of using Verdana:

  • Even though it's easy to read, some people consider Verdana a bit informal

  • The loose letter spacing may mean that you have a hard time keeping your resume to two pages

Garamond font for a resume

When you use Garamond font for your resume, you're truly taking a trip back in time. Garamond typeface can trace its roots back to the 16th century. Of course, today's Garamond is an interpretation of those old designs. It has an elegant appearance that almost resembles pen-writing, but with an upright design.

Pros of using Garamond:

  • Garamond text has good spacing, making the document it's used on appear well-balanced

  • It's a great font to use on your resume if you intend to have a print version ready to hand for humans, for off-screen reading

  • It's a versatile font that is widely accepted

Cons of using Garamond:

  • The serif-style font is less suitable for screen reading

  • Some hiring managers feel that Garamond is too artistic for formal documents like resumes

Times New Roman font for a resume

When you open Microsoft Word, if the default font isn't set to Calibri it's probably set to Times New Roman. It is one of the most popular typefaces of all time and is known for having a robust design. It was originally designed for a printed publication – The Times, from Britain – that wanted to adopt something more traditional in the 18th century that would work with a printing press. Welcome to Times New Roman. 

Pros of using Times New Roman:

  • It is a universally accepted font – a safe choice

  • Because Times New Roman is a classic serif design, it gives your resume a professional and traditional appearance

  • Since it was specifically designed for print, the letters are still legible even when you use a small font

Cons of using Times New Roman:

  • Using Times New Roman font for your resume is considered, by some, to be outdated  

  • When you use a smaller font size, the letters get squished together a bit which can make it hard to read on a screen

What is the difference between a serif and a sans-serif font?

The basic difference between serif and sans-serif fonts is decorative. Serifs are, by definition, little decorative strokes that finish off a letter. Since 'sans' means 'without,' then sans-serif fonts are missing the little decorative strokes at the end of each letter.

Serif fonts are more traditional and formal, making them great for designing your resume. The serifs – or decorative strokes – make these fonts easier to read in print and are considered less sterile than sans-serif fonts. 

Serif fonts that you can use on a resume you're going to print out include Garamond and Times New Roman.

Conversely, sans-serif fonts lack any decoration at all. These fonts are considered modern and provide a straightforward appearance which is great for on-screen reading. The biggest downside to sans-serif fonts is that they can be difficult to read if you're using a smaller font size.

Sans-serif fonts you can use on a resume that will be used for online applications include Calibri, Tahoma, Arial and Helvetica.

What fonts should you avoid on a resume?

Since the main point of your resume is to present your qualifications in a way that shows you're the right professional for the job, there are some fonts you want to stay away from. 

Specifically, you should avoid using flowery, themed, cursive, or “fun” fonts, like 

  • Comic Sans

  • Impact

  • Monotype Corsiva

  • Freestyle Script

  • Segoe Script

Along with being difficult to read and not compatible with an ATS, “artistic” fonts tell employers that you don't know the rules of creating a professional resume, which could potentially lead them to think you don't take your job search seriously. Remember, no snazzy resume font will showcase your qualifications as clearly as your job experience, talents, and accomplishments.

What is the best font size to use for a resume?

Generally, a 10- to 12-point font size is recommended. A good rule of thumb to remember: don't decide on a font size until you've chosen the specific font you'll use for your resume. This is because some fonts like Calibri, Trebuchet, and Arial Narrow take up less space than Times New Roman or Verdana. 

Depending on the font, you might be able to slightly reduce or slightly increase its size to have the two-page resume that recruiters prefer while still ensuring it's easy to read and the format is pleasing. 

However, going above a 12-point size font in the resume body to make two pages means you probably need to add more details about your past responsibilities and achievements or include skills developed from voluntary work and hobbies.

If you're submitting your resume online, you also might need to use a 12-point font size throughout and eliminate any formatting, like underlining, italics, or bolding. Online programs may convert your information to an ASCII format or ask you to use an ASCII format so the resume displays correctly, and a 12-point font works best in that case.

Page formatting

The margins, bullets, and spacing you pick for your page matter just as much as the font and font size. At the end of the day, you want your resume to be accurately read by an ATS and impress a hiring manager. So, in addition to making sure that you spell out your qualifications, skills, and career achievements, be sure you have a document that is well laid out, readable, and professional-looking. 

A lot of that comes from consistency. So, to ensure that your resume looks the way it should and is aesthetically pleasing, here are some formatting rules for you to follow that will guarantee consistency:

  • Margins: Use balanced margins that are no less than 0.5 inches all the way around. It's okay to have your top and bottom margins different to your left and right margins, but you want to avoid having a top margin that's less than your bottom margin.

  • Spacing: You can use the line spacing formatting feature of Microsoft Word or Google Docs to ensure that you have consistent spacing. If you're using 6pt line spacing in front of one section header, make sure you take the time to check that all section headers have 6pt spacing in front of them.

  • Bullets: While you have some leeway on the type of bullet you use, it's best to stick with a simple dot bullet to make sure that your resume looks the same on the hiring manager's computer as it does yours. Also, for the love of all things resumes, double-check that all of your bullets line up. Fewer things scream, “I didn't pay attention” than bullet points that are out of alignment.

  • Graphics, icons, and images: Don't use them –  at all. The ATS can't properly parse information from resumes that contain things like charts, images, and icons. Since it turns your resume into a text file, those images get converted into funky characters. 

The best font sends the right message

There are three specific targets to aim for when choosing a resume font:

  1. Does it present you as a professional who is well-qualified for the job?

  2. Can recruiters and hiring managers easily read and scan it for critical keywords and information?

  3. Will it be read correctly by an Applicant Tracking System or online application program?

A well-written resume is always the key goal, but a particular font can have a major effect on the message you convey to a potential employer, whether that's of a seasoned expert, a young and hungry professional, a new graduate, or anything in between.

It can also mean the difference between getting called for an interview and getting a “no thanks” email. Take the time to follow these tips and create a resume that clearly presents who you are and you'll find yourself interviewing in no time.

Not sure if your resume format and font are working for your job search? That's where our objective resume review comes in! Submit your resume now for expert feedback. 

This article was originally written by Lisa Tynan and has been updated by Marsha Hebert. 

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