Best Font for a Resume in 2021

By Mike Simpson

Choosing the best font for a resume can be surprisingly challenging. The font style you go with has a major impact on the look, feel, and readability of your application.

When used strategically, resume fonts can give your resume a particular air. For example, you can use them to highlight your professionalism or creativity.

However, if you go with the wrong resume fonts, you could be giving your application a one-way ticket to the discard pile.

Yikes, right?

Luckily, we can help you pick the best resume font for the job. If you’re ready to make sure you head in the right direction, here’s what you need to know…

What Is a Resume and Why Is It Important?

Alright, we’ve taken a deep dive into resumes before, including how to make a resume that’s designed to impress as well as proper resume format. But just to make sure we’re all on the same page, here’s a quick overview of what a resume is and why they are so ridiculously important.

In the simplest sense, a resume is a document that showcases your professional skills, traits, and achievements. It’s not unlike a written handshake, serving as an introduction to what you have to offer a hiring manager. You’re hoping the hiring manager is so intrigued that they want to continue this introduction in person with an interview.

Generally, resumes have very specific features. Along with your contact information, you’ll go over your work history, educations, and other relevant details. The trick is, more than the content of your resume matters. The formatting you go with has an impact. So does your font choice.

The resume font you use has a significant impact on your resume, particularly when it comes to readability. Some fonts are easy on the eyes and highly skimmable. Others, well, they just aren’t.

Since 40 percent look at a resume for less than one minute before deciding whether the candidate moves forward (and 25 percent don’t give it more than 30 seconds), readability matters.

And it isn’t hiring managers. One study showed that recruiters spent a mere 7.4 seconds initially skimming a resume. Since the average corporate job opening can attract about 250 resumes, if the hiring manager or recruiter can’t figure out what your resume says right away, say hello to the discard pile.

Additionally, certain fonts exude professionalism, while others may seem immature or sloppy. That’s why choosing the right one is so vital. Without a great font, your resume isn’t as magnificent as it would be otherwise.

Types of Fonts

Alright, it isn’t actually possible to break down what every font has to offer. After all, there are hundreds and hundreds of unique fonts, each with unique characteristics.

However, practically all of the ones that may make sense as a resume font fall into one of two categories: serif and sans serif.

A serif is a little extra stroke, curl, or flourish that you see with some fonts. Serif fonts have those curls or extra bits, while sans serif (which essentially translates to “without serif”) fonts don’t. Yes, that’s pretty much the entire difference.

Now, there are a few other font categories. For example, the script category includes fonts that mimic cursive handwriting. Why they can be high-style, they are often harder to read and aren’t really appropriate for resumes.

Finally, there’s slab fonts. These tend to be big, thick, heavy-style fonts that, again, aren’t really resume-friendly. They can quickly overwhelm any page because of the line weights involved.

Technically, slab fonts can be divided into two categories, depending on whether the font is a serif or sans serif design. However, in either case, they use bold, dramatic lines.

How to Choose the Right Font for Your Resume

Choosing what font to use for a resume can be a bit tricky. While all of the best resume fonts will offer a solid dose of readability, they can also do much more.

Think of it this way; your resume is essentially a marketing document. If you make the content of your resume and your stylistic choices align, your overall message is stronger.

Different fonts for resumes may be interpreted different ways. Some are seen as classic and mature, while others feel modern and sleek. By capturing the right feeling with your font style, you’re taking your resume up a notch.

So, before you default to using a good resume font, why not go for greatness? Really dial into fonts that convey the right message. That way, your resume has that extra little bit of oomph.

But how do you do that? Well, start with deciding between serif and sans serif. Generally, serif feels a bit more formal and traditional due to those extra flourishes. Sans serif tends to lean toward modern and sleek since it’s fairly unembellished.

After that, consider how much space you have. Some of the easiest to read fonts are relatively wide, while others are surprisingly narrow. If you need to cram a lot into your resume without crossing over the two-page mark and going with a small font size, then you’ll want to opt for a narrower option that’s still easy on the eyes.

Finally, don’t be afraid to go with what feels right to you. Sometimes, your gut tells you which choice is best for conveying your message. As long as you’re going with a professional and readable option, why not let your heart play a role in the decision-making process?

MIKE'S TIP: You may be wondering, “Can I use more than one font on my resume?” While you may think that a little font-based artistic flair is a way to stand out, generally, you’re better off going with a single font. Too many fonts can make your resume harder to read, which works against you. If you need to highlight anything, like section headers, adjust the font’s size a bit and use bold or italics. That typically draws the right amount of attention without going overboard.

Our Top 5 Fonts to Use on a Resume

As we said before, there are more fonts available than anyone has time to try. It would take you hours just to review all of the ones that come with your document software. Add in downloadable fonts, and it’s even worse.

So, we want to save you a little bit of trouble. If you aren’t sure what the best fonts for a resume are or, at least, where you should start looking, here are our top five fonts to use on a resume.

1. Calibri

When it comes to the best font for a resume, Calibri is probably it. Why? Because it’s clean, crisp, and incredibly familiar.

You may not have noticed, but Calibri is usually the default option in newer versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook. Plus, it’s similar to what you see on many web-based email platforms.

Why does that matter? Well, it means it’s a font most people look at on the regular. It’s comfortable to read partially because of its design, but also because everyone is used to it. That can work in your favor.

Plus, Calibri looks good. It isn’t overly casual or highly formal. It sits in the middle, which can be ideal for most resumes. It was also designed to work well on computer screens, something that’s vital if the hiring manager may favor digital documents over printing out applications.

2. Cambria

If you like the formal touch that you only get with a serif font, then give Cambria a try. It has the nice flourishes you’re looking for without being too stuffy.

You’re probably thinking, “What about Times New Roman? Isn’t that the classic serif font?” Well, you’re not wrong. It is a classic. The trick is, it can also feel a bit old-school, and not necessarily in that good nostalgia kind of way.

Cambria adds that bit of something different without going overboard. It can be ideal for more conservative industries – think banking and finance – though also works well for nearly any other position. Additionally, Cambria was designed specifically to be easy to read on a computer screen, but also does the trick on printed resumes.

3. Garamond

Another excellent option for fans of serif fonts, Garamond feels like a modernized version of a traditional design. It has a bit more polish and maintains a high degree of readability, both of which can be important on a resume.

Unlike some serif designs, it doesn’t seem cramped, which is a boon. This may allow you to use smaller font sizes comfortably, giving you a little more space to work with on your resume.

Plus, Garamond is a little unexpected. While it’s comfortable and feels a bit familiar, it isn’t what everyone else is using. At times, that can work to your advantage.

Now, as with many serif fonts, it may be a tad too traditional for more creative or youthful industries. However, if you’re in a more formal industry, it can be a great way to add a hint of personality while still aligning with the hiring manager’s expectations.

4. Arial Narrow

If you need a resume font that lets you fit more into a tight space, Arial Narrow is now officially your best friend. It’s a sans serif font that is incredibly readable, even though it’s fairly compressed. That means you can fit more details into your resume while ensuring the document isn’t any larger than two pages. If that doesn’t make Arial Narrow a good font for resumes, what would?

Now, since it runs narrow, you do have to be vigilant about your resume font size. Go too small, and the text can start running together. But, when you get the sizing right, it really can be a winner.

Plus, Arial Narrow is versatile. It can work for nearly any kind of position since it feels pretty classic. So, if you aren’t sure whether the hiring manager leans modern or formal, consider this a great choice.

5. Helvetica

Did you know that Helvetica was actually the subject of an entire documentary? It’s true. While that alone isn’t enough reason to use it on your resume, that doesn’t mean you should overlook this versatile sans serif font.

Helvetica is incredibly clean and has a modern edge. Its readability is also high, which is a nice bonus. Plus, while it’s generally popular, it isn’t necessarily one of the most common fonts on resumes. That means it could help you stand out a bit.

What Font Size Should I Use?

Alright, here’s the other part of the equation. When you’re trying to choose the best font for a resume, it’s important to remember that size matters. It impacts overall readability and can mean the difference between your resume looking polished or cluttered.

So, resume font size is best? Well, it depends. Generally, you want to start with 12-point for most of the content, with your headers being a bit larger (and usually bold).

Why? Well, one study showed that resumes with 12-point fonts were viewed more favorably than those that used 10-point fonts, so that’s a pretty good reason.

However, fonts can be tricky beasts. Font sizes (oddly enough) don’t always seem consistent from one font to the next. While 12-point might look great for one option, it may look too big or small for another. So, you may want to do a little experimenting.

For example, 12-point Calibri looks a bit cleaner than 12-point Garamond. That means you may want to make an adjustment if you decide that Garamond’s the font for you, such as bumping up the font size to 13-point for increased readability.

It might be wise to explore several options. Start with 12-point. Then, lower it to 11-point. Move it back to 12-point before bumping it up to 13-point. See how the text looks with each option.

As you do, keep in mind that what you’re seeing on the screen might not be an exact replica of the font’s size on paper. That will depend on your screen’s size and how zoomed in you are on the document. While 10-point may seem comfortable on your screen, it might be a bit small on the hiring manager’s. So, you may want to err on the side of caution and stick with the 11- to 13-point range.

If you aren’t sure what font size is ideal for your resume, print it using a few different sizes. By actually looking at it on paper, you may be able to figure it out at a glance. If you have to squint to read or hold it really close to your face, it’s too small. If you could read more than just the headings from more than arm’s length away, it might be too big.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, the best font for a resume is one that’s readable and conveys the right tone. Each of the ones listed above has something a bit different to offer. Plus, they are widely available, so you may not have to download any new fonts to make sure your resume is on point.

Just make sure you aim for the right size range and follow other resume best practices. Leave enough white space, make sure your headers stand out, and, of course, don’t forget to put your contact information front-and-center. That way, your resume can stand out for all of the right reasons.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.