Updated by Lee Tonge, 31st December 2021
You’ve prepared your CV’s content, quantified your achievements, and created a profile targeting your perfect role. Now the time has come to select your font to make that content POP. As you’ll read in this article, there are multiple ‘safe’ fonts to choose from. However, a little judicious use of formatting options can bring your CV alive and make it more inviting to read.
So, what are the best fonts to use in a CV?
Georgia and Garamond. These fonts are a modern take on the timeless (but boring) Times New Roman. We would advise using Georgia or Garamond for more traditional or academic roles. For more creative positions, such as marketing, consider something a little more modern.
Cambria. This serif font is packaged as standard with Microsoft Office suite. Predominantly designed to optimise visual appeal on a monitor, this font works well on paper, too!
Calibri. Like Cambria, this is probably one of the most commonly used fonts on CVs. Introduced in 2004 to replace Times New Roman as Word’s default font: it’s the go-to “safe” choice when preparing your CV. It’s common, so people will instantly recognise it, and it’s clean, simple look prevents any unnecessary distraction.
Feeling a little more creative? Try using these fonts:
Lato. This is a great font if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd while ensuring a professional / corporate image. This isn’t a standard font. You will not find it as an option on Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Instead, you’ll need to download via Google Fonts.
Constantia. Constantia’s naturally more rounded structure results in a less “corporate” and more relaxed appearance. This isn’t a standard font, so will need to be downloaded.
Roboto. This is one of our personal favourites (we even use it on this website). Created by Google (primarily for mobile screens), Roboto is ideal for creative applicants. In addition, if you’re struggling for space, Roboto’s rounded lettering and good spacing means your content will remain legible, even at a smaller size. As above, this isn’t a standard font, so you’ll need to download it, embed the font and create a PDF.
What fonts should you avoid using on a CV?
Arial (very similar to Helvetica). Surprisingly, this font is known to cause controversy among creative professionals, including Designers and Professional CV Writers. This font, along with Calibri is familiar to anyone who has used Microsoft Office suite. Although one of the most popular fonts, Arial is often derided for its blandness and for being a typeface with low legibility. If you currently use Arial, but fancy a change to something a little more visually appealing, consider using Tahoma or Verdana – both lauded for their legibility on small screens and at low resolution.
Times New Roman. Overused since 1983 (the year Microsoft Word launched).
Comic Sans. Developed in the 90s to create a “comic book” feel, this font should be avoided at all costs.
Century Gothic. When printed, this font actually looks neat, tidy and professional. However, Century Gothic's use of thin lettering can make CV text hard to read, and potentially cause issues with ATS.
Does font use really matter in a CV? Yes! There are two elements you need to consider. Firstly, your CV’s aesthetics (for “human” recruiters), and second, for functionality (ensuring content readability by ATS). If you’re struggling to pick a font, stick with Calibri – this will cater for both audiences.
What size font should you use on a CV?
This depends on the font you’re using and the space available on your CV. Somewhere between 10 and 11 would be ideal to balance cleanliness with legibility. Consider using slightly larger font sizes for titles. Remember, that some
What do Recruiters Think of CV Fonts?
We recently asked a recruiter their opinion of a selection of fonts from CVs we had reviewed and this was their feedback:
- Times New Roman: “Boring…suitable for someone who is applying for a role where they don’t need to take a risk or try anything new”.
- Arial: “Not bad. Very common but is easy to read…bit like Times New Roman in that the candidate probably likes to, play it safe”.
- Verdana: “Too big and cheesy…looks like something you’d expect to see created by a teenager”.
- Papyrus: “Yuk! Old-fashioned and hard to read”.
- Garamond: “Nice; quite like this! Looks very professional”.
- …and thrown in for good measure; Comic Sans: “Urgh! Unprofessional…this has been created by someone who thinks cartoon ties are cool”.
Serif vs. Sans Serif CV Fonts
Think of sans serif fonts as without (sans) tails (serif). Generally speaking, sans serif fonts are the safest option (although that's not to say you should disregard serif fonts entirely).
Example Sans Serif Fonts:
Example Serif Fonts:
Where can I download fonts for my CV?
We recommend using Google Fonts.
How do I embed non-standard fonts for my CV?
With your CV open in Microsoft Office, click on “File”, then “Options” and “Save”. Next, look for the section titled “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document” and tick all three boxes.
To prevent the file size becoming too large, make sure you keep the “Do not embed common system fonts” and “Embed only the characters used in the document” options ticked.
Can I use coloured text on my CV?
No. Avoid using anything that isn’t black or dark blue. In addition, avoid wacky fonts (yes, we're talking about you, Comic Sans).
Should I use different fonts for section titles and content?
Yes, this is a good idea and should help in distinguishing between the sections of your CV. In addition, remember to make use of other formatting, such as bold text to highlight section titles.
Struggling to choose the best font, and need help preparing your CV?
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