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Written by Emily StokerEmily Stoker

How to choose the best font for Your CV: The complete guide

10 min read
How to choose the best font for Your CV: The complete guide
Artwork by:Liza Gagarina
First impressions matter. Choosing the best font for your CV is a quick way to show recruiters you mean business. Check out our expert guide on how to get it right.

Comic Sans, Cambria or Helvetica — the right font can make or break your CV!

Knowing what font to use for your CV can feel daunting. There’s never one right answer. So much of what will and won’t work is down to personal preference and your chosen industry. Let’s face it, different fonts suit different types of CVs. 

How well do you know your Comic Sans from your Times New Roman? Resume.io is here to step in and help you find a professional font for your CV. In this article, you will learn how to quickly assess the suitability of a font for your CV, and see our assessment of some of the most popular fonts for CVs. We will cover the following topics: 

  • How to pick the best font for your CV
  • A complete list of the best CV fonts
  • How to format your chosen CV font
  • Advanced tips for choosing the perfect CV font

What is the best CV font choice?

The ‘best’ font for your CV is a matter of personal preference. While there are guidelines that you should keep in mind, it’s all about having the confidence to pick the best font for your CV. There are some simple guiding principles that you can use.

Legibility is the most important of these principles. Your CV is all about the content and what it communicates. A bad font choice might tell the hiring manager something you don’t want it to, e.g. you have poor attention to detail or messy work standards. However, the best font for your CV is like a well built house: when it’s done right, it goes unnoticed. 

To make sure your font choice isn’t distracting, consider the wider context of the job you’re applying to. The font choice that a hiring manager for a computer programming firm finds best practice could differ from the one at a graphic design agency. That might differ from the one at a publishing house. The important thing is that you build the confidence to identify the pros and cons of each font choice. You can then make the right choice for your profession. 

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The Top 10 Fonts to Use for Your CV

Ready to get writing your CV? Before you get started, it’s time to choose the best font for your CV. Since there’s a rainbow array of options out there, let’s narrow it down. Check out our top 10 list of fonts to use when writing your CV.

 1. Arial

Arial may be the best font for your CV. This is a popular and simple choice that quickly gets the jobs done. Keep in mind that your font choice might match many of the other candidates applying for the same role.

2. Calibri 

Calibri is another popular choice with high legibility. The spacing of the letters makes it preferable for CVs requiring detailed explanation, as it can help you to fit more on one page. While it’s not quite as popular as Arial, it might not be the choice for you if your CV still requires a distinctive look.

3. Cambria 

Cambria was designed to be read on computer monitors but is still considered traditional in style. As such it can be a great modern choice that remains both professional and legible.

4. Garamond 

Garamond is based on a serif font with roots that go back hundreds of years. It is one of the most professional fonts you can use. Some describe its look as ‘timeless’. As we’ll explain later, serif fonts can have advantages in inspiring confidence and authority. 

5. Georgia 

This is another serif alternative to Times New Roman. Its growing popularity, particularly in writing and creative communities, means it’s unlikely to stand out from the crowd. However the fusion of trendy and classic might make it the perfect choice for your CV!

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6. Lato

This modern design comes from Google. It can be found in the Google Font Library, however, it’s not a standard font option on Microsoft Word. This font can inspire trust without coming across as too serious. This could make it the perfect choice for innovative industries, but could verge on the side of casual for more traditional sectors.

7. Trebuchet

This CV font may have old roots, but it’s a stylish and versatile option for any profession. It’s slightly larger than some other choices on the list, but this sans serif option is certainly an elegant choice.

8. Verdana 

Verdana is another popular font which was originally designed by Microsoft with computer screen reading in mind. In recent years it has become a popular choice for CVs. Many argue that this CV font option is very similar to Arial or Helvetica.

9. Helvetica 

Not many fonts can boast that they have an entire documentary dedicated to them, but Helvetica can. As you can imagine, it’s a popular choice and has been around since 1957. Its benefits are numerous, but you might decide it’s become a victim of its own success by becoming too common.

10. Times New Roman

A familiar classic or over-used and boring? Times New Roman was originally the default font for Microsoft Office, which has led to it gaining a reputation as being old-fashioned. However, depending on your industry and the image you want to portray, it could work in your favour. 

Expert tip

Studies have found that Times New Roman and Arial are the most reliable fonts to help you get past ATS. Other fonts like Cambria, Georgia, Calibri and Verdana can also be used.

How to pick a font size and format

When it comes to the best CV font size there is generally widespread agreement: 12pt is ideal. This font size is legible — not too big and not too small. As Goldilocks would say, it’s ‘just right’. However, you can break this rule at times.

So, is 11pt too small for a CV? The answer is that there are always exceptions. You can alter the font size to suit your needs. Sometimes it can be acceptable to go down as far as 10pt to make it all fit on one page. That’s the optimal CV length for most job seekers.  

Subheadings on your CV can be slightly larger than the rest of the text. However, don’t forget that there are plenty of other formatting tricks to make this content stand out. Drawing attention to subheadings should never jeopardise the all-important one-page rule.

Making your text bold or capitalising is a great way to draw attention to small excerpts of text. Underlining and italicising text can also be used sparingly. While underlining might be good for subheadings, italicising text can risk making it harder to read. On the flipside, that makes italicisation a strong option to differentiate text that is less important.

Highlighting or changing the colour of text might seem like easy options, but that can end up looking messy and confusing. As always, there are some exceptions. 

Expert tip

Avoid using colourful text. Branding expert Debbie Millman says that even CVs belonging to creative professionals like graphic designers ‘should be black ink on white paper. Period.’. That’s why your font choice and size should remain your first consideration.

Advanced tips: What font is the most professional?

You’ve got the basics down when it comes to choosing and formatting your CV font. Now, let’s take a deep-dive into some professional tips. If you really want to perfect your choice, you should think about the pros and cons of sans versus sans-serif fonts. 

Serif describes fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia which have small lines at the ends of letter strokes. Sans-serif describes fonts that don’t have this feature, like Arial or Helvetica. 

Statistical insight

Serif fonts may give you the competitive edge. A New York Times opinion poll suggested that a serif versus sans-serif font could affect the credulity of a written text. In fact, the results seemed to point towards serif fonts being more authoritative.

It also pays to consider how the hiring manager is most likely to read your CV. Some specialists like marketing expert and psychologist Nick Kolenda say that serif fonts are preferable for digital reading, while sans serif fonts are preferable for physical documents.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t get too jazzy here! The best CV font choice should fly under the radar rather than standing out.
  2. Consider the pros and cons of each font choice in the context of the job and industry you’re applying to.
  3. Keep your CV font to 12pt in size as a general rule. However, you can go down to 10pt if it helps to keep things on one page.
  4. Harness the power of font formatting to keep your CV neat and draw attention to the right sections.
  5. Take all of the stress out of designing your document. Use our field-tested CV templates and CV examples to get the job done!
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