Font choice might seem like a very minute detail when it comes to CV writing – and your professional skills, qualifications and achievements are indeed what really matters on this all too important document. But, that doesn’t mean you should randomly select a font from the drop-down list in your preferred word processor and be done with it.
After all, a good font (or, to be more politically correct, typeface) which is scannable and easy to read grabs the recruiter’s attention from the word ‘go’. It also sends a strong message about your personality and professionalism, which can influence a hiring manager’s decision about you before they’ve even met you. In other words, a crappy font will cost you the job you’re applying for.
Remember: recruiters are trained to look for reasons why your CV shouldn’t make the cut before they even start looking for reasons why it should. So, don’t give them a reason to move your CV into the ‘No’ pile by using a font like Comic Sans.
Here are the 20 best fonts that can help boost your chances of landing a job interview!
Serif or sans-serif?
There are four main types of fonts:
- Serif – fonts that use serifs aka small lines at the ends of characters (examples include Times New Roman and Baskerville)
- Sans-serif – sans is French for ‘without’, meaning they don’t have serifs (examples include Helvetica and Verdana)
- Script – fonts that mimic modern or historical handwriting styles (examples include Brush Script and Vivaldi)
- Decorative – these are characterised by unusual features intended to add splash and pizzazz to a design (examples include ITC Matisse and Outlaw)
Let me start by saying that script and decorative fonts – no matter how cute or elegant-looking – have no place on a CV. They’re simply distracting and often virtually unreadable.
This leaves us with serif and sans-serif fonts. Both font types are commonly used on CVs, largely because they’re easy to read. Having said that, though, serif fonts are generally preferred for printed text while sans-serif fonts are perfect for electronic text.
Which type you use all boils down to personal choice and the particular font style you choose, but whatever you do, ditch Times New Roman! It’s been way overused, it looks boring and it’s simply old-fashioned. Comic Sans should also be avoided like the plague – remember: you’re writing a highly professional document whose aim is to help you land an interview and, hopefully, a job.
The 20 best fonts to use on your CV
Without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the 20 best fonts to use on your CV.
Calibri (thankfully) replaced Times New Roman in 2007 as the default typeface in Microsoft Word.
Designed in 1993 for Microsoft, Georgia’s name referred to a tabloid magazine claiming ‘Alien Heads Found in Georgia’.
Designed in 2003 for either print or on-screen uses, Constantia is part of the ClearType Font Collection which includes three other fonts featured on this list: Calibri, Cambria and Corbel.
Helvetica remains a popular choice for commercial wordmarks like Behance, Lufthansa and Skype. It’s also widely used by the US and Canadian governments, largely due to its clean and professional appearance.
5. Gill Sans
Gill Sans is based on Johnston, aka the ‘Underground Alphabet’, the corporate font of the London Underground.
6. Lucida Sans
Lucida Sans was designed for low-resolution displays due to its small size. It was created in 1985 to complement its sister typeface Lucida Serif.
7. Franklin Gothic
Franklin Gothic’s roots date back to 1902 and was originally used for headlines rather than extended text. Today, it maintains a high profile, having appeared in a number of advertisements, newspaper headlines, books and billboards.
Verdana was released in 1996. Its name is a portmanteau of the word ‘verdant’ (meaning: something green) and Ana (the name of designer and painter Virginia Howlett’s daughter).
Arial was designed (or, better yet, cloned) in 1982 to be metrically identical to its distant cousin Helvetica, so that a document set in Helvetica could be correctly displayed and printed without having to pay for a license.
Cambria is characterised by its readability (whether printed small or displayed on a low-resolution screen), even spacing and proportions. It was designed in 2004 by Jelle Bosma.
Described as a humanist sans-serif typeface, Corbel is part of Microsoft’s ClearType Font Collection. It was designed by Jeremy Tankard and released in 2005.
This premium font was designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1988, who has described Avenir as his ‘finest work’ – and rightfully so. Avenir has been used by the city of Amsterdam as the primary font for its corporate identity, as well as by the Eurovision Song Contest.
Garamond is a timeless typeface and is named after Claude Garamond, a French type designer whose designs influenced many modern Garamond revisions.
Designed by Matthew Carter (who also designed Verdana) in 1994, Tahoma was a standard font in the initial release of Windows 95. It is similar in appearance to Verdana, though has a narrower body and tighter letter spacing.
Another Microsoft font, Trebuchet was released in 1996 and named after the trebuchet, a medieval siege engine. It was used as the default font for window titles in Windows XP.
Lato was designed by Polish designer Łukasz Dziedzic in the summer of 2010. ‘Lato’ means summer in Polish.
Didot first graced printed page back in 1784 and is described as neoclassical and evocative of the Age of Enlightenment.
18. Open Sans
Commissioned by Google in 2010, Open Sans is perhaps its most popular typeface along with Roboto (not included on this list). It is used as Mozilla’s default font, and is the official font of many political parties in the UK. It is also the font used on CareerAddict.
19. Goudy Old Style
A classic old-style serif font, Goudy came into being in 1915. It is described as a graceful typeface with a few balanced eccentricities, and is particularly suitable for headings and titles.
Designed in the 1970s by John Baskerville, Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface. It is included with some of Microsoft’s software.
At least it does for fonts, anyway.
Ideally, the body text should be between 10 and 12 points (depending on how much content you have and the particular font you have chosen). Anything smaller than that, and the hiring manager may have trouble trying to decipher what you’ve written. If it’s larger, they’ll think they’re reading a children’s book. Either way, they won’t be impressed.
If you’re really crunched for space, consider making the page margins smaller – up to 0.5” (or about 1.26cm). Alternatively, start editing and cutting text. Whatever you do, for the love of all that is good in this world (i.e: kittens), do not – I repeat: DO NOT – go below 10 points or over two single-sided A4 pages!
Headers, on the other hand, can (and should) be larger:
- Your name should stand out with a 22-point font (think of your CV as a blog post or newspaper article, and your name is the title).
- Your headline (e.g: ‘Award-winning Journalist with 10+ Years’ Experience’) should ideally be 16 points.
- Section headings (e.g: ‘Employment History’, ‘Education’, ‘Skills’, ‘Hobbies and Interests’, etc.) typically look good at 14 points.
A word of caution, though: one font size may seem bigger in one style and smaller in another, so be extra careful about the size you choose!
- Stick to just one font, or a maximum of two if you want to use a different font for headings. Font Pair is a great site for font pairing ideas.
- Don’t overuse capitalisation, bolding, italicisation, underlining, etc.
- Use black or, if you must, dark grey fonts.
- Aim to use a universal font that works on any computer’s operating system, as your CV is likely to be scanned by an applicant tracking system.
- Save your CV as a PDF to avoid any formatting issues from occurring.
- Make sure the font looks good in print as much as it does on screen.
What font(s) have you used on your CV? Do you have any top font recommendations worth mentioning on this list? And do you think that font choices matter when it comes to job search success? Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts and experiences with us!