Fonts are not normally the first thing on someone’s mind when writing their CV.

However, it’s a small detail that can have a big impact on your job application. That’s because even though you may have a better CV than everyone else’s, if it’s hard to read then there’s a good chance it will get binned. Remember, Hiring Managers typically have to go through dozens of CV’s every day and usually spend seconds sizing each one up. In this scenario, first impressions count and if the layout puts them off, they won’t read it.

You want your fonts to make you get the recruiter’s attention for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

By: Iejaz Uddin – 28 April 2024


Why are fonts important?

Fonts can go a long way in creating that all important first impression with a recruiter.

It is widely acknowledged that the right font can make your resume more readable and also go a long way in conveying your message to the recruiter. They can help to create an impression of the candidate that is modern and professional. Numerous studies show that recruiters only spend seconds on deciding if an applicant is fit for a role. With this in mind, every detail on your CV counts, including the font you use to write in with.

They also matter for two other main reasons, firstly to is to make your CV in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and readable. The second is to ensure your CV is scannable by the automated ATS programs. Applicant tracking systems read some fonts better than others, its therefore vital that your font doesn’t hinder the ATS.


What’s the best font for a CV?

There are so many different font styles to choose from that it can be quiet confusing. The main point to remember is that your CV is a formal document and therefore you should be conservative and not to go for an outlandish or unusual design.

So, the answer is to use the most commonly used conservative ones. That’s because they are easy on the human eye and Applicant Tracking Systems are programmed to read them.

The most common fonts for writing a curriculum vitae are Times New Roman and Arial. These are used because they are clear, easy to read and look professional.

To stop you from agonizing over which font to use, we’ve put together a straightforward list of recommended ones. Any of the below are a safe choice in terms of readability.

  • Arial
  • Cambria
  • Calibri
  • Courier
  • Garamond – Widely seen as an alternative to Times New Roman, this old-style serif font looks good in a wide range of applications.
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica
  • Times New Roman – One of the most popular and widely used fonts in the recruitment industry. It has a classic, polished look that can add a sense of gravitas and formality to a document.
  • Verdana


Points to consider when choosing a font

The role you are applying for

Specific sectors such as the legal professional have their own preferred font standards. You should therefore research the industry and use their recommended ones.


Do you need more space on your CV?

If you do, then you need to use a font that looks better in a smaller size than a large one. This will make your CV looked less crammed whilst giving you more room.


The prospective employers company culture

Are you looking to join a company with a laid-back atmosphere, like a new start up? If so then it may be best to use a relaxed looking font rather than a old fashioned one like Times New Roman.


Fonts to avoid

Now that you’ve got an idea of the type of fonts to go for, let’s consider the fonts that you should avoid.

Do not include unconventional, over the top, fancy and highly stylized fonts that are not usually seen in formal documents. It’s always a bad idea to try to spice up what is an official document with highly decorative fonts that look like handwriting or are marrow, condensed and curved etc. All of these can be hard to read for both humans and any scanning software.

Here’s a list of some to avoid:

  • Apple chancery
  • Bradley Hand ITC
  • Brush Script
  • Comic Sans
  • Futura
  • Lucida Console

Also steer clear of specialist nonstandard fonts that you have to download before you can use them. These will almost certainly be unreadable by any ATS.


ATS friendly fonts

Always use a typeface that is ATS (applicant tracking system) compliant. Using the wrong one can make your writing unreadable to this scanning software and immediately get you application binned before a person sets eyes on it.


The best font size

If it’s too small you risk making your text unreadable, too large and it could look amateurish.

Ideally, what you write should be large enough to be comfortably read, but small enough to not take up unnecessary space and look like a wall of text.

Most CV writing experts recommend using a consistent 10 to 12 points throughout your CV. With a larger size of between 14 to 16 points for your name, job title and section headings.


Can you use different fonts on a CV?

Although not common, it is acceptable to do this. As long as the font passes the readability test, it should be fine to use multiple ones in your CV. An example of this is where you use one font for the main text of your CV and another one for the section headings. Just make sure they complement each other.

One advantage of doing this is that they can help differentiate your sections and break up your CV, thereby making it more interesting and unique.

However, don’t overdo it and avoid using more than two different fonts on your CV.


How to make fonts look interesting

Worried about using the same conservative fonts as other candidates and want certain words to stand out?

Below are a few things you can do to add to their visual appeal and draw attention to what you want the reader to see.

  • Add colour
  • Bold text
  • Use italics
  • Underline words

Use the above techniques in moderation to highlight job titles, employer’s names, key skills, and section headings.


What are fonts?

The word ‘font’ refers to a certain design of text that’s shown on a page or screen.


How many different types of fonts are there?

You may not know it but there are estimated to be over 200,000 different font styles in total to choose from. However, the standard Word tools will tend to have roughly 40 different fonts.


Difference between a serif and sans serif font

In serif the type face has extra strokes, curls, and curves, while san serif (which means without serif) the lines are clear and straight.



Related links:

Should text be justified in a CV

What not to put in your CV

Why CVs are rejected