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The Best Font for a Resume: Sizes, Styles, and Spacing

The Best Font for a Resume: Sizes, Styles, and Spacing

According to Indeed, recruiters take six to seven seconds to look at each resume in their inbox – on average. So, if you want to make it to the next stage, your resume has to communicate your strengths in that tiny amount of time.

This is a call to go wild with fonts and colours. After all, this is how you can stand out, right? Pick an unconventional font that mimics handwriting and choose the Pantone colour of the year – and you’re bound to be unforgettable… Right?

Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your resume’s formatting, from the font to the colour palette, shouldn’t distract the recruiter from the contents of your resume.

What’s more, with the proliferation of applicant tracking systems (ATS), there’s a good chance your resume will have to go through a bot before a human can even look at it. And such software struggles with deciphering creative fonts and unconventional layouts.

So, what’s the key to the proper resume formatting? Ryan Davis, an editor at NoCramming who regularly has to sift through prospective writer resumes, weighs in.

Here’s your guide to the best font for a resume, how to format it for success, and what spacing and size to opt for.

Sans-Serif vs Serif Fonts: What’s the Difference?

Before we dive into good resume fonts, let’s break down two main types of fonts you’ll be considering:

  • Serif fonts come with small lines attached to letters called serifs. They were initially created for printed mediums. They’re considered more appropriate for traditional fields (e.g. law) and light-on-text resumes.
  • As you may have guessed, Sans-serif fonts don’t have serifs attached to letters. They’re considered more modern than their serif counterparts – and more appropriate for heavy-text resumes.

Today, most recruiters are used to reading both sans-serif and serif fonts. So, it’s unfair to say one is better than the other.

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Sans Serif Vs Serif Font Comparison

5 Best Sans-Serif Fonts for Resumes

Some of the best resume fonts in this category are the default fonts in Google Docs and Microsoft Word – Arial and Calibri, respectively. Your other options include Helvetica, Verdana, and Avenir Next.

Arial

Example Of Arial Font

If you’ve ever used Google Docs, you’ve seen this font. Also known as Arial MT, this neo-grotesque sans-serif typeface is a straightforward and minimalist option for a resume aiming for a clean look.

Arial is also universally recognised by ATS bots. So, if chances are high, your resume will have to go through one; this is the best font for a resume you can opt for.

However, Arial is overused in most domains. So, it may not be the right choice if you’re aiming for a creative position.

Best for:

  • Resumes submitted online as they may end up in an ATS first
  • Candidates struggling to fit all content on one page
  • Applications for non-creative positions

Calibri

Example Of Calibri Font

Like Arial, you must’ve seen Calibri in action if you’ve ever used Microsoft Office Suite. Calibri was the default Word, Excel, and PowerPoint font for 17 years between 2007 and 2024. (It was replaced with Aptos in January 2024.)

Calibri was designed to maximise readability on computer screens. This superior legibility is the font’s main advantage: it’ll make your resume easy to look through, putting its contents front and centre. ATS bots will also easily discern your resume’s contents if you opt for this font.

However, the font’s ubiquity can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, Calibri can feel familiar to recruiters, allowing them to focus on your resume’s contents. On the other, it may come across as a lack of effort in choosing the font.

Best for:

  • Applications likely to be viewed on a computer screen
  • Resumes that require a more compact font to meet the length requirement

Helvetica

Example Of Helvetica Font

Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, Helvetica is a favourite among graphic designers and other creative types. It’s come a long way since its creation in 1957, becoming such an iconic typeface that there is a documentary about it.

The Helvetica font family comes with one of the widest ranges of font weights. So, you have much more freedom to format your resume to structure and organise its contents. That’s why Helvetica is the best font for a resume with a lot of content that needs structuring.

However, the only downside of this font is its pricing for Windows users. While it’s preinstalled on Macs, if you want to add it to your Windows machine, prepare to pay $21.49 per basic Helvetica style on MyFonts.

On the other hand, a version of this typeface called Helvetica World is available in Canva for free. You can also download a free version of Helvetica, FreeSans.

Best for:

  • Resumes with a lot of subheadings and sections
  • Applications for positions in the design industry
  • Content-heavy resumes

Verdana

Example Of Verdana Font

If you’re looking for a less overused sans-serif font with more breathing room around each letter, Verdana may just be it for you. Initially designed for low-resolution computer screens, this humanist typeface has more expansive proportions and loose letter spacing.

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Verdana’s inherent style makes it a good choice for resumes with a smaller font size. The typeface remains easy to read even at 10.5pt.

That said, Verdana’s wide spacing may still be a downside if reducing font size isn’t an option for you. Verdana may also be a somewhat old-fashioned choice in specific domains (e.g., design).

Best for:

  • Resumes that require a font size lower than 12pt
  • Resumes with relatively scarce content

Avenir Next

Example Of Avenir Next Font

Finally, there’s Avenir Next – the rising star among design professionals and enthusiasts alike. It combines the advanced legibility of Arial and Calibri with a sense of elegance and broader letter spacing.

Thanks to its rising popularity, Avenir Next is a great choice for creatives sending resumes.

However, as it’s not a universally supported typeface (perhaps yet), some systems may struggle to recognise Avenir Next. So, if you opt for it, submit your resume as a PDF – and remember to embed the font into the file.

Best for:

  • Job seekers who want to stand out with a sleek and modern but less conventional typeface
  • Applications for creative positions
  • Digital resumes that easily fit on a single page as-is

5 Best Serif Fonts for Resumes

Suppose you prefer a more traditional route and opt for a serif resume font. In that case, your options include professional fonts for resumes, such as Cambria, Times New Roman, Georgia Garamond, and Book Antiqua.

Times New Roman

Example Of Times New Roman

Just like Arial and Calibri are the best-known sans-serif typefaces, Times New Roman is the serif font everyone has seen at least once. It’s also a long-time standard resume font that comes across as formal and appropriate in corporate settings.

Times New Roman is available on most devices and easily scannable by automated systems like ATS bots. It’s also great for giving your resume a professional look in industries like finance and law.

However, Times New Roman is a heavy serif typeface. So, the same amount of text can take up more space, making it harder to fit everything you have to say on a single page.

On top of that, Times New Roman is considered more readable in printed mediums rather than on computer screens. Don’t just take our word for it: the U.S. State Department reached the same conclusion in 2023.

Best for:

  • Applications for corporate positions, especially in industries like finance and law
  • Resumes likely to be printed out

Cambria

Example Of Cambria Font

Cambria is another standard Microsoft typeface that’s available on the absolute majority of machines. Cambria is relatively compact, unlike some serif fonts, thanks to its narrower letters and tight spacing.

Cambria’s compact nature makes it an excellent choice for resumes too long to fit on a single page. On top of that, Cambria remains legible even at smaller-than-usual font sizes. So, you can also fit more content by reducing font size with Cambria.

However, Cambria can come across as a tad old-fashioned, especially if the recruiter is more used to sans-serif typefaces.

Best for:

  • Printed resumes
  • Applications requiring a more traditional professional look (e.g., finance, law)
  • Resumes with a lot of content

Georgia

Example Of Georgia Font

Try Georgia if you’re looking for an elegant yet classic serif font. Developed for Microsoft, this Scotch Roman typeface is preinstalled on Windows PCs and readily available on other operating systems. And if it looks familiar to you, you must be reading the New York Times – the newspaper uses it in both online and print versions.

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Overall, Georgia is a timeless typeface that is restrained and professional. As it was designed for low-resolution screens, it scores a tad better in legibility than Times New Roman. On top of that, you can customise this typeface if you want to add your personality to the text.

However, remember that Georgia has regular downsides of serif fonts. First, it may come across as old-fashioned in some industries. Two, its readability on small screens can suffer if you choose a font size too small to keep it legible.

Best for:

  • Resumes that have to communicate a lot of information in a limited space
  • Resumes that should be easy to read both on screen and on paper

Garamond

Example Of Garamond Font

Garamond is, by far, the font family with the most extended history on this list. Created in the late 1400s, it is still the serif font of choice for print and online typography. It’s hailed for its toner efficiency, too.

This typeface is a classy, elegant, and easy-to-read option for anyone who doesn’t want to go with the overused Times New Roman. However, its thinner lines can make reading slightly more complicated in smaller font sizes than other serif fonts.

Best for:

  • Resumes that have to look great when printed out and viewed online
  • Job seekers who want a more unconventional alternative to Times New Roman
  • Applications for positions where professionalism is still synonymous with serif fonts

Book Antiqua

Example Of Book Antiqua Font

Yes, Palatino and Book Antiqua are pretty much the same typefaces. Microsoft commissioned Monotype to clone Palatino, and the resulting font, Book Antiqua, was distributed with Windows OS. Palatino was heavily influenced by Renaissance-era types, giving it a classic, elegant look.

Book Antiqua excels at remaining legible at smaller font sizes, more so than Garamond – all while delivering the same elegance and class. However, remember that it’s best suited for applications in industries with a more conservative understanding of professionalism.

Best for:

  • Applications that may be reviewed both on paper and online
  • Resumes that can benefit from smaller font sizes

Does Font Size Matter?

In a word, yes. You have to strike the delicate balance between fitting all the content on one page – and making it readable on both screen and paper. This is where the resume font style and size come in.

A good rule of thumb is to apply the 12pt font size to your resume’s paragraph text and see how it looks. Chances are you can leave it at 12.

Depending on the font, however, you may reduce the size to 10.5pt or increase it to 14pt. Anything smaller than 10.5pt will be hard to read, and going over 14pt will make your text too large.

Reducing the font size is a good idea if you need to squeeze a lot of information into a single-page resume. However, some fonts like Georgia, Arial, and Helvetica are more legible at smaller font sizes than others (e.g., Garamond, Cambria). So, factor that in when you choose the typeface for your resume.

Give Your Text Some Space

Perfect Graphic Design Resume Online

The ideal line spacing value depends on the font size. Aim to keep it at 120%-145% of the font size. For example, if your text is 12pt in size, the line spacing has to be between 14pt and 17pt.

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To separate your sections, add some white space between them, too. Optimal margins are usually in the ballpark of 0.5 in. You can opt for larger ones if the sections remain stuck together.

9 Do’s & Don’ts for Formatting Your Resume

Choosing the best font for your resume is only a small part of preparing your application for success. Here are the nine tips for properly preparing your resume for the sendoff.

Do: Opt for Minimalist Fonts

Your resume should have that clean, no-nonsense look. To achieve this, minimalist fonts are your go-to option. The best font for a resume shouldn’t draw attention to itself – it should enable the recruiter to focus on your experience and skills. If the recruiter notices your choice, you’ve failed the assignment.

Don't: Use Ligatures

Ligatures are the glyphs that join two letters in a single character. While they’re meant to improve readability, some ligatures are purely decorative. Turning them off is a good idea because optical character recognition (OCR), used by ATS bots, may mistake them for a single letter.

Examples Of Font Ligatures

Do: Avoid Creative Fonts

All the handwritten, script, and display categories fonts are a no-go in resume formatting. While some can be perfectly readable for humans, ATS bots struggle with discerning text in most of them. This means your resume may get automatically thrown out because the bot can’t detect the relevant keyword in the file.

Don't: Be Erratic in Your Fonts & Styles

Your resume should look consistent. This means using the same typeface and font size for your paragraph text. Your headings have to stand out in the text, but their style should also be uniform throughout the resume.

You can choose to use different typefaces for headings and paragraph text. However, you risk combining the incompatible if you’re not a skilled designer. To play it safe, use variations of the same font instead – it’s a surefire way to ensure consistency in your resume’s look.

Do: Send Your Resume as a PDF File

While Word documents may still be accepted in a few places, steer away from any file format that’s not PDF.

PDFs are universally supported across devices and platforms; Word documents are not. PDFs are also displayed the same way on a screen of any size. On top of that, you can embed fonts into a PDF file – do it whenever you use a non-standard typeface.

Don't: Experiment With Colours (Too Much)

When it comes to resumes, black is the new black. It’s easy to read, especially on a white background.

And speaking of backgrounds, keep yours simple, too. Neon colours are unlikely to make a positive first impression on a recruiter unless you apply for a creative job. (And even then, it’s not a given.)

So, keep your colour palette soft and straightforward – and ensure it’s not distracting the reader from the text.

Do: Keep the Contrast High

If you experiment with the colour palette, keep text readability in mind. In other words, your text should be highly contrasted to the background. Use a contrast checker to ensure your text remains legible when in doubt.

Don't Leave Walls of Text in Your Resume

Your resume has to be well-structured and organised. If it’s not, a recruiter won’t just struggle to scan its contents – they may also judge your character based on this lack of structure.

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So, ensure your resume doesn’t look like a wall of text. Here’s how you can organise it:

  • Use bold and italics to highlight keywords and key phrases
  • Maximise your use of bullet point lists
  • Add white space around headings, paragraphs, lists, and sections
  • Break sections with easily identifiable headings

That said, avoid unnecessary capitalisation – they may come across as yelling.

Do: Style Headings to Make Them Stand Out

If there’s one component to a good resume structure, it’s the headings. Recruiters should be able to spot each heading and understand their hierarchy easily.

Here are a couple of tips for formatting your resume’s headings:

  • Increase the font size
  • Make your headings bold
  • Add white space before the heading to separate it from the previous section.
  • Increase the font weight on headings (if possible)

Remember to reduce font size progressively for headings of different levels. In other words, Heading 1 should be more significant than Heading 2, which should be more critical than Heading 3. Here’s an example of standard heading styles in Google Docs:

Example Of Font Headings In A Resume

Conclusion

While the resume font style and size matter, it might not be for the reason you think. The best typography choices remain invisible to the recruiter, ensuring the resume is easy to read and navigate. Plus, they render your resume scannable for ATS bots.

If there is any other advice left, it’s this: simpler is better. Focus your efforts on putting your best foot forward with the contents of your resume. Text formatting and style are just there to make it presentable and organised.

FAQs

Is it mandatory to use a 12pt font size?

No, but this font size works best for the majority of cases. You can slightly reduce the font size (to 10.5pt-11pt) if you opt for typefaces like Arial and Georgia. Typefaces like Garamond and Calibri may require a larger font size (up to 14pt).

What font size should I use for my resume?

The optimal font size stands at 12pt for most resumes. Depending on the typeface and amount of information in your resume, you can go as low as 10.5pt or as high as 14pt.

How do I choose a font for my resume?

Opt for a font that makes the paragraph text easy to read and review, both on a screen and in print. Your font should also be bot-friendly so that the ATS software can scan it for keywords. If it’s not, your resume may never make it to a human recruiter.

Does it matter which font I use for my resume?

Yes, but only to a certain extent. Your font and formatting should make the text easy to scan. If you choose the right font, the recruiter will probably be able to focus on the contents of your resume effortlessly – without even noticing which font you chose.

What is the best font for a resume?

The best resume fonts include:
Arial
Calibri
Verdana
Helvetica
Avenir Next
Georgia
Cambria
Times New Roman
Book Antiqua
Gamarand

Is it better to use a serif or a sans-serif font in a resume?

If you’re submitting applications in more conservative industries like business, finance, or law, serif typefaces will probably be received better. The same rings true if your resume is likely to be printed out.
Recruiters in less conservative domains typically expect sans-serif typefaces. They also tend to be more legible on screen.

Should I use ligatures in my resume?

It’s better to turn off all ligatures in your selected typeface if it supports them by default. Ligatures may interfere with OCR scanning, making the resume difficult for ATS bots.

Can I use different fonts for headings and paragraph text?

Yes, as long as both of them are readable and ATS bot-friendly. To make it work, use contrasting fonts from different categories (e.g., a serif and a non-serif).
You can also play it safe and use the same font family for both text types. In this case, just increase the size and font weight for headings.

Can I use fonts other than serif and non-serif?

Handwritten, script, and display fonts aren’t the best choice for resumes. Firstly, they will likely be unscannable, so your resume may never surpass the ATS screening stage. Secondly, they may turn out to be unintelligible to recruiters as well.

Author Bio: Ryan Davis is an editor at NoCramming, overseeing a review and blog writers team. He also spends his fair time scouting and interviewing prospective team members. With a solid background in graphic design and writing and first-hand experience in hiring, he knows what makes excellent resumes stand apart from passable ones.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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