There’s nothing like a good resume fontroversy. So, to stir things up, I decided to pull a Cook’s Illustrated on my Psychology of Resume Fonts post from earlier this week.
If this were Cook’s Illustrated, I’d make seven types of mac and cheese and write in painstaking detail about how I geeked on finding the perfect recipe — so you don’t have to. Instead, I studied the best resume fonts.
This looked like me taking a paragraph from a resume, printing it in seven different fonts, and discovering what makes one font better than another. If you want, you can eat mac and cheese while you read this.
Here are our contenders:
Times New Roman as the Best Font for a Resume
Times New Roman takes more than its share of eye rolls and nasty comments as a resume font. However, it says, “Reliable,” to your reader.
Plus, as you will see in a moment, you can cram a lot more words onto a page with Times New Roman than you can with any of the other fonts shown below. Just that simple, delicious fact often makes it the best font for a resume.
Beyond space considerations, Times New Roman confers an additional benefit. “Conscientiousness” (of which reliability is one aspect) is one of the Big Five Personality Traits.
While the Big Five get massive attention as predictive factors for job performance, conscientiousness is the only Big Five Trait that actually correlates with job performance.
When you use Times New Roman, you give a subliminal message of reliability and conscientiousness.
However, you also date yourself because Times New Roman was most popular when people printed resumes. It contains serifs (slight projections finishing off a stroke of a letter), which makes it a little difficult to read on a computer screen.
Arial as the Best Resume Font
Arial is another perennial resume favorite. It says, “Modern,” to your reader.
It says “modern” because it’s a clean, sans serif font. Sans as in “without.” It doesn’t have serifs. Thus, it’s easier to read on a screen.
However, Arial takes up more space than Times New Roman, which means you might have to drop some valuable info to keep your resume to two pages. Yes, two pages. End of discussion.
Calibri as the Best Font for a Resume
Calibri is a tasty, sans serif font that’s easy to read and says, “Stable.” It uses more space than Times New Roman, but not as much as Arial. It’s a definite possibility.
Century Gothic as the Best Resume Font
Century Gothic uses way too much resume real estate and is thus a non-starter. Imagine an audio file here as it hits the trash with a big “Splat.”
Helvetica as the Best Font for a Resume
Helvetica uses more space than Times New Roman or Calibri at 11 and 12 points. At 10 points, it’s hard to read. Thus, it’s also a non-starter — unless you’re light on resume material.
Helvetica recently (May 2015) received a ton of press from a Bloomberg article as the best font for a resume. However, the recommendation was made by a graphic designer who doesn’t write resumes. It’s a lovely font, but usually impractical for our purposes.
Verdana as a Resume Font
Verdana is a common website font, but it’s too big to consider for your resume.
Baskerville as the Best Font for a Resume
The New York Times published a long, evidence-based study about fonts in 2012. It concluded that Baskerville is the most trusted font:
1. Readers are more likely to agree with information shown in Baskerville.
2. Readers are less likely to disagree with information written in Baskerville.
3. Baskerville has gravitas.
Those are all desirable qualities in a resume font. It uses about the same amount of space as Times New Roman. However, I find Times New Roman easier to read in narrative text. Because of that, I skip Baskerville.
Resume Font Comparisons
Please, take a look at these fonts, and feel free to heat up a fontroversy in the Comments section below.
What Do You Think?
Please share your insights in the Comments section below.
Image Courtesy of Marcus dePaula
Updated May 2019
© 2013 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.