Do you want to know if there is a recommended font for resumes?
Yes, there is — not just one, but many — a veritable fontroversy!
So what should a job seeker do? How can you decide which font is the best for your resume?
5 Considerations for Resume Fonts
I consider 5 factors when choosing and recommending fonts for resumes:
- Microsoft Word: I limit myself to fonts that come with Word because recruiters and hiring managers often ask for .doc files. If you use a non-standard font in a .doc file, it will render oddly on many screens.
- Reader Experience: I want an easy-to-read font (more below) so readers will go beyond a 6-second scan.
- Mobile-Friendly: The font needs to render well on mobile devices.
- Font Size & Word Counts: I want a font that lets me write 600 to 750 words on 2 pages. The ideal word count for most resumes is 600 to 700 words (per the research). Calibri delivers better than any other font.
- Don’t Overthink It: If people can easily read your resume, you win. They’re more interested in that than the merits of Calibri versus Helvetica or any other font.
Recommended Font for Resumes
When I consider those factors and every MS Word font (I’ve tried them all), there’s only one I recommend for resumes — 11-point Calibri.
Microsoft designed it for computer screens and made it their default Office font. Thus, it’s familiar to your readers and easy on their eyes.
That said, I agree with Calibri’s critics; it’s not a beautiful font. I wish Microsoft would provide a collection of standard fonts purpose-selected for resumes. But until they do, I’ll stick with Calibri because it checks all my other boxes.
Best Font Size for Resumes
Moving on to font size, notice I referred to 11-point Calibri above.
I’ve tried 10-point and 12-point, but 11-point Calibri rocks it for producing a 2-page resume.
I mostly use 15-point Calibri for headings.
I always use 10-point Calibri for company descriptions.
Resumes Written in Calibri
Do you want to see some examples? You can find links to 3 resumes written in Calibri here.
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Updated January 2023
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How well does the Calibri font work with optical scanners and company applicant tracking systems.
I understand that Times New Roman, for example, does not scan well even at 12 pts. with some resume scanners.
Because it’s in such common usage, fine. I’ve never had a complaint.
I suppose that the version of Microsoft Office Word default of Calibri, is probably at least Word 2007 or 2010. It seems silly to me, to value the formatting and style of a resume, more than the actual content — and then again, I don’t believe in traditional resumes as being very effective other than just being a fancy “business card” with details — and my belief that the traditional jobs are not very efficient or effective in the 21st Century.
Hi Aaron, Thank you for commenting. You’re right — 2007. Recruiters do value content most, but format second. I love resumes and marvel at how much explicit and implicit information they contain. Traditional jobs aren’t for everyone but they’re perfect for many people. I’m glad to see a variety of options opening up for people. Kind regards, Donna
It’s silly to even talk about content vs. format in this way. A good format will allow the content to shine through. In that sense, format should be subordinate to the content, but format supports content; it should not be an afterthought. I sometimes have to plow through piles of resumes when I’m hiring someone, and believe me, format matters a lot to me. My time is valuable, and a poorly-formatted resume that forces me to reread it multiple times to find what I need to know is, to my mind, an indication of what kind of work that person would produce in general.
Ken, I agree and I appreciate your explanation of why format matters.Thank you, Donna
I have found great difficulty seeing the difference between similar looking sets of letters when reading on a 10.1 inch tablet. If they just put a little more space between letters to more clearly delineate them I wouldn’t mind. Otherwise I forcefully assassinate Calbri and switch the default to Courier New. I can’t imagine it would be easier to read on the smaller standard 7 inch tablets or even smaller phones.
Hmmm, I wonder if a font has been developed for readability on tablets? Thank you Kyle. Donna
Did Microsoft pay you to say this? Cause really, Calibri is a weak, narrow and not confident (rounded forms) typeface compared to Helvetica or Gill Sans, which I find far more visually appealing, particularly if you need both and on-screen and printable typeface. Helvetica looks great on the phone and the tablet. It just works.
And if you want a perfectly designed typeface for the screen, try Veranda.
I wish. Yo, Microsoft, are you listening?
Thank you for the tips. I like Verdana for websites but not for resumes. Both Verdana and Helvetica, to my taste, are too bulky for resumes.
The resume is a distinct font use case, but that doesn’t stop people who don’t write them from publishing blog posts about the “ideal” resume font.
I will play with Gill Sans.
As someone who reads resumes all day long for a living, I do appreciate your insight and completely agree with you. Calbri is my choice too for resumes, and advise that to candidates whenever I get the opportunity.
Another resume suggestion for your readers from an insider’s perspective is that ALL recruiters and HR departments use some form of Applicant Tracking System (database) to manage our resumes. The new trend appears to be to put Name and contact info into either a header or a footer – NO ATS can “read” inside of a header or footer. When the resume is imported, all that is visible is the body of the resume and even if this is the candidate of my dreams, I can’t contact them – don’t even know their name. Recruiters deal with large volumes of resumes, when they encounter one like this they normally just delete it rather than fix it. A shame for both the candidate and the recruiter.
What a shame! Thank you for highlighting this Patty. Donna
“The new trend appears to be to put Name and contact info into either a header or a footer – NO ATS can “read” inside of a header or footer. When the resume is imported, all that is visible is the body of the resume and even if this is the candidate of my dreams, I can’t contact them – don’t even know their name.”
So, is it better not to write the name and contact information within the header or footer? Thanks.
I don’t use headers and footers on resumes for precisely this reason. Thank you for the reminder!
Dear god, no. Calibri looks like a slightly more sophisticated Comic Sans to me. It is definitely not easy on my eyes.
Beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. ;-)
Great question and a sixth lovable point! It’s believed that Calibri scans well.
Hi. I’m Sainath. I have a query like, “what would be best subheading’s to be used in a resume to describe a profile.”
for example: few people use Career Objective at the first, and later summary etc.,.
few people use only summary than career objective.
Where are you located? Resume conventions vary by country. In the US, summaries rule and objectives are out.
Do you prefer a two page resume with a 12 point calibri or a narrow margin 11 point calibri resume? I’m stuck with that decision and the panel is split on whether two pages are fine or one page is the norm! I’m a graduate student with a 1.5 year work experience.
Spot on! I agree with you! I found my resume looking ‘clean’ and ‘concise’ with the Calibri. Also, even if the line spacing is narrow, like 1-line spacing with no gap between them, calibri letters tend to make their own space and distributes well, making it pleasing to the eye of the beholder.
I use .75″ top and bottom margins and 1.25″ side margins. I never adjust them because they provide a look that invites the eye.