HOW TO: Choose a Font for Your Resume — Infographic

Best Fonts for Resumes

by Donna Svei on February 27, 2013

I just came across a good explanation from UrbanFonts.com on how to choose serif versus non serif fonts. And I thought, “Oh my, this is SO applicable to resumes.” I did. Really. Hence this blog post. Plus I love it when I think, “Oh my.” It makes me feel so ladylike.

If you’re wondering what a serif is, hold on, it’s explained in the infographic below.

Resumes tend to be presented in either Times New Roman (serif) or Arial (non serif) fonts — or a blend. One school of thought says that Times New Roman is an old fashioned font that makes you look outdated. That school thinks that Arial is a more contemporary font that makes you look up to date. Another school of thought says that Times New Roman is easier to read than Arial and that matters more than anything else.

UrbanFonts makes a pretty compelling argument for using a serif font like Times New Roman for hard copy documents and sans serif font like Arial for documents that will be read on-line. It’s likely that your resume will be read on-line, thus it seems to make sense to go primarily with a sans serif font.

I personally prefer serif fonts in either case but I roll with the graphic design pros on this one. Check out this infographic for a quick primer on font choices:

Serif vs Sans: The Final Battle

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Get hired. Email me at donnasvei@gmail.com or call me at (208) 721-0131.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Bolt February 27, 2013 at 05:57

Great find! I said “Oh my!” but I’m resisting the temptation to feel ladylike.

Hi Tom, LOL. Followed by ROFL. Followed by, “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.” Where are these ladylike utterances coming from? Donna

Annie Anderson February 28, 2013 at 07:38

Thank you for a light but richly informative post! Like you, I love the fonts with serifs, but have never had the information to argue a case one way or another. A previous employer used Arial almost exclusively, which I found to be unlovely and hard to read. Now I understand our differences better (I do most of my reading on printed documents, not the screen — they wrote most of their copy for the web or for children).

Hi Annie, Thank you for letting me know that you liked this post and for talking more about fonts (they’re so cool!). I really appreciate your feedback. Donna

Mary Lee Schultz March 1, 2013 at 07:22

I have always been a fan of fronts, since working for my high school newspaper. As the years have gone by it is interesting to see the changes, all the options and the new fonts that came be downloaded quickly. I agree the message is more important than the font. Sometimes the font will enhance the message. Although I would like to add size matters. Ever seen a document that is so crammed with information that the font is reduced to micro levels. Or maybe I just need glasses. Great article, I truly enjoyed it.

Hi Mary Lee, We must be twins separated at birth. I used to hang out in the print shop at my high school. I remember using some kind of machine to set up a creative writing magazine that was my senior project. Then I remember being able to buy packages of fonts to use with MS Word. I have posts on just the topics you mention about size and white space. Click on “Resumes” in the Tag Cloud in the right-hand column if you want and check out some of my other posts. Thank you for your comments. Donna

Cheryl Bottle March 2, 2013 at 16:32

Thank you for the information. Some people don’t realize the difference between fonts and their effect on the reader. Your article was informative and helpful. Thanks again.

My pleasure Cheryl — and thank you for being kind enough to let me this post was helpful to you. Donna

Marcy March 3, 2013 at 08:29

I loved this post. It was informative and offered a great visual explanation which increased my understanding. I have been wondering about fonts for quite awhile. I work with younger students and we only use the sans-serif fonts. I find myself gravitating to those fonts for myself now. I also participate on many teacher interview committees where we often have 60-100 resumes sent for each opening. All of these are pre-screened on line. While i am looking carefully at content, I am clearly aware that some resumes are more appealing to my eye, both in font type and font size, as well as organization.

Hi Marcy, It’s fun to be meeting more people who like fonts. Thank you, Donna

Google Resume March 4, 2013 at 04:57

Really liked your post, quite sad actually that so few fonts are available for webdesigners by default Serif ou Sans…

Thank you Gary. Donna

DetailBear March 4, 2013 at 20:42

Additional note: if you are writing software for technical users, either allow font changes or use a serif font (or a nice serif font like the one here). “The code is 1OIal0gq5S” in an standard serif font is remarkably unhelpful. I’ve had to write “one-cap o-cap i-a-lower L-zero-lower G-lower Q-five-cap s” type notes.

Karen March 5, 2013 at 07:38

Great post – fascinating to know the history and usage of those fonts. Love the infographic and it will definitely make me rethink my web font & hard copy font presence.
(The “oh my” comment cracked me up… though it reminded me of the MUCH overused phrase in 50 Shades of Grey.)

Note to self: MUST read that book. Thank you Karen. Donna

Dorothy Grandia March 5, 2013 at 07:50

Thank you for summarizing something I have been trying to communicate – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – for several years. In the dark ages, I helped finance my studies doing writing and production at newspapers. Now I am a career coach of the MBA programs at RSM/Erasmus University. Many recruiters have mentioned a preference for sans serif to reduce strain and increase legibility in electronic format resumes. Of those candidates who cannot be convinced NOT to use Times New Roman in electronic formats (an otherwise beautiful, easy-to-read font on paper), Microsoft Constantia at least tries to conquer the strain issue. By the way, how a font looks after ‘justification’ should also be considered if a candidate wants to justify (particularly in cover letters). Many fonts look downright ugly once justified….thanks again, Dory

Useful additional information. Thank you Dory. Donna

Ken March 6, 2013 at 03:21

Wow, graphic on font recommendation. I wanted to point out that I totally agree with the serif for print, san-serif for web. The legibility is so important in these two different mediums.

Also, I wanted to suggest a place where you can find quality type for use on resumes/web projects etc and that is the type community at http://type.is/good – I found a lot of the fonts I ended up using on my resume there and after I joined I was really helped out and assisted with which typeface to use on my CV. I think the site is subscription only now, but it has been a lifesaver for me when needing to decide on and find great typography.

Thank you Ken. I love how blogging lets us build on ideas together. Donna

Cindy Billington March 6, 2013 at 15:32

Donna, this is a million dollar question isn’t it? The graphic really helps because the question itself is based on appearance.

I’m a fan of the serif font because I also think the sans looks too boxy and like a computer. The serif font is softer. That’s my two cents.

Hi Cindy, The trend really does seem to be towards san serif. Who knows, maybe it will swing back. I especially like the sans serif font Verdana, which is used on a lot of websites, but it’s just too big for one and two-page resumes. Donna

Teddy Snyder March 8, 2013 at 09:24

Comic Sans walks into a bar. The bartender throws him out: We don’t serve your type around here.

Best. Blog. Comment. Ever. Donna

Victor March 11, 2013 at 07:32

Are serif fonts more readable? Maybe not.

It turns out that the evidence isn’t quite there yet: http://asserttrue.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-serif-readability-myth.html

That being said, Donna, a question, please: with more and more resumes being electronically pre-screened, should the emphasis be more on content than on presentation? (With the understanding that both matter.)

Hi Victor,

Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s some research info on your question: Your Resume: What Matters Most to Recruiters? http://buff.ly/kYL3S5.

Thank you,

Donna

Tonya Braden March 15, 2013 at 10:03

Thanks for the great article. I have shared this with the students in our Computer Fundamentals class. I love infographics. They are a great way to help visualize words.

Tonya Braden
Health Information Technology Instructor
TTC Memphis

Tonya, Thank you for making my day! Donna

JoAnn Braun April 10, 2013 at 19:12

To bad LinkedIn does not allow us to choose a font.

True JoAnn. They’re probably going for a brandable look for their product. Donna

Patty Thompson November 16, 2013 at 12:48

Do you know what font and type style “50 Shades of Grey” is written in? Please advise if possible.
Thank you

Hi Patty, True Confession: Have not read it! Donna

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