Until I started drafting résumés professionally, I never imagined I would have an entire post devoted to résumé fonts. Yet after some lively conversations with clients about the best fonts to use, I realize it is quite a helpful point to cover.
Fonts depend on many factors, including industry and seniority. More “serious” fonts should match more serious roles. Safer (even boring) fonts match roles where that is appropriate – i.e., where your job is safety, risk management or the like – while more creative styles fit better with creative endeavors. As a result, there is no “one best font” for résumés generally. You should take your cues from the fonts you and your colleagues (or those in your target field, if you are in transition) are accustomed to using.
Here are some favorites and generally acceptable fonts, in alphabetical order:
Arial – clean and easy to read, safe choice, which some may view as boring
Calibri – the default Microsoft Word font, very familiar
Garamond – old style font, timeless, polished elegance
Georgia – traditional alternative to Times New Roman
Times New Roman – universal font and very popular résumé choice, also safe like Arial
Trebuchet MS – sans serif like Arial, a bit different but still comfortable for the reader
A few more points before I close:
- Uncommon Fonts. If you choose a less common font, make sure the text is highly readable and accessible by most users of Microsoft Word and other word processing programs. The worst case scenario can come true – your font is not supported, and your document looks like a mess on their screen.
- Use of Space on the Page. If space is an issue in your résumé (either you have too many words or too few), the font can change the entire look of your document.
- Limiting Your Font Use. Don’t use too many fonts within the document. It doesn’t look fancy, it looks disorganized. I generally suggest only one font. If you use a second one as an accent, be sure to use it consistently throughout the document (i.e., only for your name and contact information on both pages). The same rule applies for capitalization, use of bold, italics, etc.
- Colors. Just as you are careful with font, be careful with (and don’t overuse) colors. Again, take a cue from what you have seen in your industry as a proxy for what your target audience will respond to and expect.
If you have any input or questions about fonts, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post. Thanks!
[Update July 2016: since writing this post, I have also started using Helvetica in résumés, so I’m adding it to my list of fonts. I continue to use Times New Roman generally in the legal field, as it is a font that lawyers are comfortable reading, and often (but not always) use a sans serif font for non-legal clients. I have generally stopped using Calibri as well.]
Copyright 2016 Anne Marie Segal.