Choosing the right font for your resume can be agonizing – you want your resume to stand out from the crowd but still remain professional and easy to read. While of course the most important aspect of your resume is the actual content, the font(s) you choose can make the difference between a clean, professional document and a difficult-to-read resume that gets immediately rejected.
This article will cover the best fonts to use for resumes and how to properly style your resume with typographic emphasis, font pairings, font sizes, line spacing, and margins.
Best Resume Fonts
Here is a selection of some of the best resume fonts that are easy to read and professional:
- Times New Roman
- Trebuchet MS
While there are certainly other fonts that can work well on your resume, avoid using any fonts that include ‘thin’ or ‘light’ in their names, as these can be hard to read especially when viewed on a computer screen.
When in doubt, go for practicality and readability over style when it comes to your resume font.
Finally, consider the industry that you are applying for when you select your resume fonts. If you are applying to a position in a staid field like accounting or law, you will likely want to keep your font choices neutral and very professional.
However, if you are applying to a more creative field like graphic design or advertising, it’s acceptable to branch out more with your resume fonts and color scheme. In that case, your resume often functions as not only a summary of your experience and qualifications but also as a visual representation of your creative skills and abilities. Still, don’t go overboard – ensuring that your resume is easy to read is the top priority.
Serif vs. Sans-Serif Resume Fonts
Serifs are the small cross-pieces or ‘tails’ at the ends of each letter stroke in fonts like Garamond, Times New Roman, and Georgia. Sans-serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri do not include these tiny lines.
Both serif and sans-serif fonts can be easy to read and professional, although they each have their pros and cons. It’s generally accepted that serif fonts can be read slightly more quickly, but they do have a more old-fashioned, dated look. Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand, are considered to be fresh and modern, providing a clean look for a resume – but they can take fractionally longer to read.
Either type of font is acceptable for resumes so long as it’s legible.
Pairing Resume Fonts
You may wish to use two contrasting yet harmonious fonts on your resume: one for your name and section headings and another for the main content. Pairing fonts can be tricky, but it can be highly effective to create visual interest and flow. You may wish to pair a sans-serif heading font with a serif body font, or even a more flowery script heading font with a sans-serif body font. As always, ensure that both fonts are easy to read and go together well without clashing or pulling the reader’s attention away from the content.
Additionally, if you submit a cover letter with your resume, ensure that the fonts and style are the same across both documents to create a memorable personal brand and a cohesive look.
Use Typographic Emphasis
You can also use typographic emphasis like bold, italics, and capitalization to create some visual interest and help subheadings stand out without having to make the font larger which uses up more valuable space. For example, you could use italics for supporting text, such as the city and state for each past position or where your university is located.
As a general rule, bold and all-capitals can be used together, but italics should be used without any other emphasis – otherwise it can look cluttered. Steer clear of using underlines in your resume to keep it looking clean and organized.
Best Resume Font Size
The standard font size for the body text of your resume is 11 or 12 points. Headings and subheadings can be larger, but generally no bigger than 14 points. If you need to squeeze one more line onto your resume to avoid spilling onto a second page, you can go as small as 10 points. If you still can’t fit everything on one page, consider editing your content for brevity or adjusting the margins slightly rather than dropping the font size any further.
Sans-serif fonts in general are easier to read in a smaller font size than serif fonts, so if you must use a small size, select a sans-serif font so the hiring manager will still be able to read your text. Even in the same font size, a serif font like Garamond will appear much smaller and denser than a sans-serif font like Verdana.
Resume Font Colors
Of course, the standard font color for a resume is just plain black. However, you can deviate from all-black text to create some visual interest by changing your headings, subheadings, or header (with your name and contact info) to a different color that is still legible and professional, such as dark gray, navy, or forest green.
You can also change the body text of your resume to a color like dark gray if you wish, but be sure that the color scheme doesn’t take anything away from the content of your resume (e.g. no garish colors and keep the color scheme consistent throughout).
You can also add interest by creating a color-block background for your header. For example, your name and contact information could be presented in white text on a dark-colored background, or black text on a light-colored background. If you do opt for a bold header color, you could also use that color for your headings and subheadings, leaving the rest of the text black or dark gray so as to avoid visual overwhelm.
Resume Line Spacing and Margins
When it comes to resume spacing, there are a few key considerations. The recommended line spacing for resumes usually falls within the range of single to 1.5-point spacing. If you have limited experience to showcase, utilizing 1.5-point spacing can help fill the page and prevent any unnecessary white space.
If you do have a lot of information to include, single spacing allows you to fit more on the page while still being legible. 1.15-point spacing is perhaps the easiest to read, providing some white space between lines while not egregiously using space.
Typically, resumes have one-inch margins all the way around. However, if you need to adjust the margins slightly to fit all of your content onto a single page, that is acceptable. Avoid making your margins too small though, or you run the risk that some of your text will be cut off when your resume is printed out.
Submit Your Resume as a PDF to Protect Fonts and Format
The most common file formats for resumes are Word Docs and PDFs. However, a PDF is your best option when it comes to preserving your careful font selection and document formatting. A PDF will look the exact same to everyone who opens it, while a Word Doc can get altered or even completely scrambled if the person opening the document doesn’t have Microsoft Word on their computer or they have a different version of the program than you.
Also, if you use a downloaded font and the employer doesn’t have the same font downloaded, your resume font might be switched to another random font or your text might not show up at all. As such, it’s always a good idea to save and submit your resume as a PDF to avoid any potential formatting and font mishaps.
Choose a simple, professional font for your resume that is easy to read. Consider pairing it with another contrasting but complementary font, or use typographical emphasis like bold, italics, or all-capitals to provide visual interest. Use standard line spacing and one-inch margins, and be sure to save your resume as a PDF so your fonts and formatting remain intact.
Need help choosing the perfect fonts for your resume? Check out Jobseeker’s resume builder tool. There are several templates to choose from with pre-set fonts, or you can enter your information and easily switch between fonts to see which ones you like best. Then download your polished resume instantly and get started applying for jobs right away!