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Choosing the Right Resume Fonts and Sizes

Writing a resume involves major choices like what information to include, how to include it, and what resume format is best for you. What font and font size to use on your resume is relatively straightforward.

The goal of your font and font size choices is to present your resume information in a way that is both readable and pleasing.

Why Does Your Resume Font Matter?

There are two reasons your resume font matters, The first is your human resume reader. The second reason your font choice matters? The applicant tracking system (ATS). ATSs are programs that help recruiters and hiring managers organize and search resumes, but they “read” some fonts better than others. The goal is to have your resume pass seamlessly through an ATS so, like the human resume reader, it can focus on the content of the document.

What Are the Best Resume Fonts?

The fonts that come standard across a range of programs and aren’t overly flashy or designed are best to use. These fonts became standard because they’re easy on human eyes, and since they’re standard, ATSs are programmed to read them. Here are the best fonts to use:

  • Arial

  • Cambria

  • Calibri

  • Garamond

  • Georgia

  • Helvetica

  • Times New Roman

  • Verdana

Arial is the font most commonly recommended by our experts. Times New Roman was the go-to font for so long that some experts now say it’s still a safe choice regarding readability.

Picking a Resume Font

So how do you know which of these more traditional, easy-to-read fonts you should pick? That depends on your personal preference and what you think sends the right message for your resume. You might want to consider whether a serif or sans serif font is best for you. If you want to make your resume look more modern (if, for example, you work in tech) you might choose a sans serif font like Arial or Calibri, and avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia. But if you work in higher education or the medical field, a serif font like Georgia would be appropriate. To figure out which type of font you’re looking at, check the capital Ts—if the top has short lines hanging down on either side, those lines are serifs. But if the top of the T is a single line straight across, you have a sans-serif font. Once you’ve decided between serif and sans serif, choosing a font comes down to which one looks best to you!

Fonts Should You Stay Away From

Now that you have a sense of the classic fonts and basic considerations, you should also know there are a few things you should avoid:

  • Heavily stylized fonts: Although pretty and design-oriented, stay away from heavily stylized fonts like modern cursive fonts since ATSs can’t read them, and humans might have trouble, too.

  • Narrow, condensed, or light fonts or versions of fonts: These fonts can be harder on human eyes, especially when reading on a screen.

  • Non-standard downloaded, or custom fonts: Fonts that aren’t standard to most operating systems may be converted inaccurately by an ATS.

  • Gimmick fonts: Your resume is a professional document, so your font choice should also be professional. Stay away from fonts like Comic Sans, Papyrus, and, of course, Wingdings.

Keep Fonts Interesting

You can use bold and italics for job titles or company names to add to the visual appeal. You can also use color and underlines, in moderation—too many colors will look unprofessional and underlining should be reserved for headings since people (and ATSs) tend to read the underlined text as hyperlinks. You can also choose to use multiple fonts on your resume, but make sure to keep it simple. Pick one font for your name and section headings and another, complementary font for the rest of your content. More than two fonts will start to distract the reader.

Choosing a Font Size

When choosing font sizes, you want to find a balance: Too large a size, and your resume is likely to be more than one page without necessarily having the years of experience to back up that resume length. But if you go too small, the recruiter will be squinting to read your resume. This is the last thing you want and will likely land you in the no pile. Your font size doesn’t need to be uniform across your resume. You can change it up to help make your important information—like section headings—stand out. Just be sure to use the same font size for each type of information across your resume and make sure the relative sizes are logical. For example, if you’re using Calibri, 10.5-point font for bullets and 12 for company names, dates, and past job titles. I always say to build your resume with the sizes you want and see where you land. If you’re spilling onto the second page, consider decreasing one or more of the font sizes while still keeping it readable. But be careful, I see a lot of people trying to cram in their info with a small font size. You’re better off looking for other ways to get your resume down to one page. On the other hand, if you have a lot of white space at the end, you might consider making your fonts a bit bigger. But don’t go overboard and set your bullets to size 16 just to take up more of the page. Recruiters will see right through that.

The Best Resume Font Sizes

Which exact font sizes are best for your resume will vary based on the font you’ve picked and your situation. So choose your font first and use your own judgment to determine which font sizes are most appropriate. Here are some general guidelines from our experts to get you started:

  • Your Name: 20-24 point

  • Headings and Subheadings: 11-14 point

  • Body Text and Your Contact Info: 10-12 point

Ultimately, the most important component of your resume is the content. Your font and font size choices should be about making sure your content is clear so you can convince the reader you're right for the job.


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