Writing a resume involves a lot of decision-making. There are the major choices like what information to include, how to include it, and what resume format is best for you. But sometimes the minor details can trip you up too. What font and font size to use on your resume are decisions that feel like way bigger a deal than they probably should—as anyone who’s ever spent 45 minutes agonizing between Arial and Helvetica can attest. The good news is, the choice is relatively straightforward.
The goal of your font and font size choices is to present your resume information in a way that is both readable and aesthetically pleasing. Here’s what to consider, plus the best fonts and font sizes for your resume according to The Muse’s expert career coaches.
Why Does Your Resume Font Matter?
There are two reasons your resume font matters, according to Muse career coach Heather Yurovsky, founder of Shatter & Shine. “The first is your human resume reader,” she says. “The aesthetics of a resume are important because it gets your reader to focus on the actual content and your experience rather than being hung up on poor font choice.” So you want a font that is very readable and isn’t distracting.
The second reason your font choice matters? The applicant tracking system (ATS). ATSs are programs that help recruiters and hiring managers organize and search resumes, but they “read” some fonts better than others. “The goal is to have your resume pass seamlessly through an ATS so, like the human resume reader, it can focus on the content of the document,” Yurovsky says.
What Are the Best Resume Fonts?
What kinds of fonts fit both these considerations? Put simply, the classics: the fonts that come standard across a range of programs and aren’t overly flashy or designed. These fonts became standard because they’re easy on human eyes, and since they’re standard, ATSs are programmed to read them.
Here are the best fonts according to our experts:
- Times New Roman
Arial is the font most commonly recommended by our experts. Times New Roman was the go-to font for so long that some of our experts now say it appears dated, but it’s still a safe choice in terms of readability.
How Do You Pick a Resume Font?
So how do you know which of these more traditional, easy-to-read fonts you should pick? That depends on your personal preference and what you think sends the right message for your resume. “The saying, ‘Dress for the job you want’ applies to font choice too!” Yurovsky says.
You might want to consider whether a serif or sans serif font is best for you. If you want to make your resume look more modern (if, for example, you work in tech) you might choose a sans serif font like Arial or Calibri, and avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia, says Muse career coach Debra Boggs. But if you work in higher education or the medical field, a serif font like Georgia would be appropriate.
To figure out which type of font you’re looking at, check the capital Ts—if the top has short lines hanging down on either side, those lines are serifs. But if the top of the T is a single line straight across, you have a sans serif font.
Once you’ve decided between serif and sans serif, choosing a font comes down to which one looks best to you!
What Kinds of Fonts Should You Stay Away From?
Now that you have a sense of the classic fonts and basic considerations, you should also know there are a few things you should avoid:
- Heavily stylized fonts: “Although pretty and design-oriented, stay away from heavily stylized fonts like modern cursive fonts,” since ATSs can’t read them, Yurovsky says, and humans might have trouble, too.
- Narrow, condensed, or light fonts or versions of fonts: These fonts can be harder on human eyes, especially when you’re reading on a screen.
- Non-standard, downloaded, or custom fonts: Fonts that aren’t standard to most operating systems may be converted inaccurately by an ATS, says Muse career coach Tina Wascovich.
- Gimmick fonts: Your resume is a professional document, so your font choice should also be professional. Stay away from fonts like Comic Sans, Papyrus, and, of course, Wingdings.
How Do You Keep It Interesting?
These suggestions and guidelines might sound boring, but don’t worry, “You can still have an aesthetically pleasing resume by using the good old fonts we’ve seen over and over again,” Yurovsky says.
For example, you can use bold and italics for job titles or company names to add to the visual appeal, Muse career coach Jillian Lucas points out. You can also use color and underlines, in moderation—too many colors will look unprofessional and underlining should be reserved for headings since people (and ATSs) tend to read underlined text as hyperlinks.
You can also choose to use multiple fonts on your resume, but make sure to keep it simple. Pick one font for your name and section headings and another, complementary font for the rest of your content, Yurovsky says. More than two fonts will start to distract the reader.
How Do You Choose a Font Size?
When choosing font sizes, you want to find a balance: “Too large a size and your resume is likely to be more than one page without necessarily having the years of experience to back up that resume length,” Yurovsky says. But if you go too small, Lucas says, “the recruiter will be squinting to read your resume. This is the last thing you want and will likely land you in the no pile.”
Your font size doesn’t need to be uniform across your resume. You can change it up to help make your important information—like section headings—stand out. Just be sure to use the same font size for each type of information across your resume and make sure the relative sizes are logical. For example, if you’re using Calibri, Boggs recommends 10.5 point font for bullets and 12 or 14 for company names, dates, and past job titles.
“I always say to build your resume with the sizes you want and see where you land.” Yurovsky says. If you’re spilling onto the second page, consider decreasing one or more of the font sizes while still keeping it readable. But be careful, Muse career coach Leto Papadopoulos says: “I see a lot of people trying to cram in their info with a small font size.” You’re better off looking for other ways to get your resume down to one page.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of white space at the end, you might consider making your fonts a bit bigger. But don’t go overboard and set your bullets to size 16 just to take up more of the page. Recruiters will see right through that.
What Are the Best Resume Font Sizes?
Which exact font sizes are best for your resume will vary based on the font you’ve picked and your situation. So choose your font first and use your own judgement to determine which font sizes are most appropriate.
Here are some general guidelines from our experts to get you started:
- Your Name: 20-24 point
- Headings and Subheadings: 11-14 point
- Body Text and Your Contact Info: 10-12 point
Ultimately, the most important component of your resume is the content. Your font and font size choices should be about making sure your content is clear so you can convince the reader you're right for the job.