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Best Fonts for Resumes That Truly Stand Out

By on May 15, 2017 in Inspiration
Best Fonts for Resumes That Truly Stand Out

For many creatives and entrepreneurs, their resumes are the only things between them and a major client, project, or job opportunity. Unfortunately, the predicament is that so many potential employers or clients see a tremendous amount of resumes. As a result, yours can get lost in the shuffle if you don’t include the design touch that makes it stand out.

To avoid yours becoming just another in the long line of resumes your reader sees, spend a lot of time in your resume preparations to really understand how crucial choosing the right fonts for your resume is. When your prospective employer or client looks at your resume, you want them to be able to easily read it, which will make yours stand out immediately! Just imagine how many resumes they look at; a good number of those will be sloppily prepared and go unread. When you’re competing for a specific job or project, you want to make the evaluation as easy as possible for them.

Here, you’ll learn how to choose the best fonts for truly memorable resumes that are legible and readable.

What to Consider

Above all else, you’ll make your resume stand out when you make it legible and readable, period. Forget the fanciness and flash of trying to catch the attention of your prospect by using showy fonts—while they can get the attention of your reader, they can do so for the wrong reason of being illegible. Go with the pragmatism of submitting an easy-to-read resume.

Remember that your resume’s going to be seen both on a computer or mobile screen and in print. Ideally, you’ll want, therefore, a font that’s superbly readable in both places, but this can be a tall order, so your best bet is to understand what makes fonts readable in the first place.

In general, there are several factors:

  • Serifs or Sans Serifs – These are the small attachments or finishing strokes at the end of individual characters; those that have them are serifs while those that don’t are, naturally, sans serifs
  • X-Height – This is an indication of the lowercase x’s height in any given typeface
  • Ascenders & Descenders – Ascenders are vertical strokes that ascend higher than the x-height of a character; descenders are the vertical strokes that descend beneath a character’s baseline
  • Counters – These are the negative spaces inside individual characters, like the space inside of the bowl of a lowercase “b”
  • Point Size – Point size is essentially the measure of a size of font

In other words, you’ll want to use fonts that excel on all of these fronts; of course, it’s impossible to get a font that’s perfect on all counts, but you’ll want to choose the ones that are pretty close.

Let’s look at each factor in more detail.

The argument over whether or not to use serifs or sans serifs for legibility and readability is one that’s hard to settle conclusively since different sources and studies say different things. For example, American Writers & Artists Inc. states that sans serifs work better for online reading while serifs are traditionally better for in-print reading.

However, a 2012 Nielsen/Norman Group report on fonts for online reading determined that there’s no clear advantage to using one over the other in terms of legibility or readability.

There are still other studies that say that other factors, like counters and point size, are more impactful when it comes to legibility than serifs or sans serifs.

Here are some very interesting serifs and sans serif fonts from our CM marketplace:

Now, when it comes to the x-height of fonts, things are a little bit clearer, thankfully!

According to Fonts.com, when the x-height in a font is bigger, legibility is improved at any given size. In such cases, even the lowercase letters of fonts with larger x-heights are clearer and more legible. However, it’s vital to point out that there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, depending on the typeface chosen, such as Antique Olive, the ascenders and descenders of the fonts can be reduced to such a degree that it actually becomes hard to read the fonts.

And that brings us seamlessly to another factor: ascenders and descenders. For the most part, to help with legibility and readability, both ought to be very visible to help the eyes of readers with pacing and character identification. It’s better for both to ascend and descend, respectively, to their natural conclusions.

Counters are very straightforward: The bigger the counters are, the more legible the fonts in a word will be, as bigger counters mean more specific shapes inside of the vertical strokes.

As for point size, numerous studies have been conducted to find the “perfect” size for legibility and readability. For example, a few years ago, it was common to recommend 12-point size (16 pixels) for the body copy on display screens. More recently, though, research has taken things in a much different direction: BIGGER.

According to a research paper from UX experts at Carnegie Mellon University, the new recommendation is an 18-point size for fonts. In the study, subjects did much better with reading and comprehension when they uses 18-point sizes as they read text on Wikipedia.

As you can see, you can’t really pick one, perfect font that has all of these characteristics, especially when some studies contradict each other on some of these factors. You can, however, get pretty close by choosing the best fonts that have a reputation for legibility and readability when it comes to your resume.

That’s what we’re going to look at next.

The Best Fonts for Resumes

So what exactly are the best fonts for resumes?

According to a career advice expert, fonts that are familiar, readable and appropriate for the industry to which you’re applying are all recommended fonts for resumes. These include:

  • Calibri – Modern and gentle, its familiarity—due to being the default font of many email programs—makes it a winner
  • Times New Roman – A readable font, electronically, it’s apropos to use it on resumes when you’re applying for corporate, legal and operations jobs
  • Arial – This well-known sans serif font is perfect for creatives
  • Verdana – This modern font features a bit wider spacing than Arial…making it even more legible for resumes
  • Cambria – Another font that’s the default choice in many programs, Cambria is a font that’s already familiar to many recruiters reading over resumes
  • Garamond – The perfect font to use if you’re applying to more artistic types of jobs
  • Book Antiqua – This font is well-suited if you’re applying for a job in the arts or humanities
  • Trebuchet MS – Another font that’s a good choice for creative or marketing resumes, due to its round, open style
  • Didot – Didot is an interesting dichotomy; it’s highly artistic, yet it’s still readable enough to be of use in a resume

From this list, you can see that both sans serifs and serifs make the cut, so, again, evaluating the best fonts for resumes based on the presence or absence of serifs won’t help much.

However, if you look at the other factors of legibility and readability, you’ll notice these nine fonts feature many of them.

Verdana, Garamond, Trebuchet MS and Didot all have generous spacing between their individual characters, which greatly helps with legibility.

Only Garamond and Didot have x-heights that are relatively small, as in they’re about 50% the height of the capital letters of the font. All the rest of these fonts, though, have x-heights that are more than half the height of the capital letters in their font families; this makes them very readable.

As for ascenders and descenders, both Garamond and Didot have generous lengths for each.

And almost all of these nine fonts also have very good counters, which also increases legibility and readability. In particular, the counters of Times New Roman, Verdana, Trebuchet MS, and Didot stand out.

So as you can see, experts recommend these particular fonts because they have a lot of the good qualities of readable typeface.

Take a look at some of the fonts from the CM marketplace that also feature these characteristics of amazing readability:

Other experts are generally in agreement over the best fonts for resumes, with a professional certified resume writer recommending Georgia and Helvetica in addition to the fonts already mentioned above. Let’s look at what makes these two fonts useful when it comes to writing your resume:

  • Georgia – A handy alternative to the ubiquitous Times New Roman, Georgia can communicate that you’re bold and unafraid to be unique; plus, it has a great reputation for readability, being specifically designed for screens
  • Helvetica – While designers and typographers love Helvetica, it can be the victim of overuse; still, this modern and clean font is popular because it presents a business-minded, professional and honest impression

Looking at the characteristics of Georgia and Helvetica, we also see the common bonds of legible and readable fonts in them, namely the generous counters, the high x-height, and the sizable ascenders and descenders.

Finally, a Bloomberg article on the best and worst fonts for resumes adds just one more font that you can reliably and confidently use on your resumes from now on: Proxima Nova. A bit of a more obscure font, Proxima Nova is closely related to Helvetica, so it’s not too drastic of a departure. In addition, this font has less of an edge than Helvetica, making it a bit easier on the eyes, too. If you want to use it, though, it’ll cost you, and you can buy it from MyFonts.com.

When we look at Proxima Nova’s qualities, we also see the same traits that are common in the best fonts for resumes already listed above. Its characters’ x-height is larger than most comparable fonts, its counters are relatively wide and open, and its ascenders and descenders are long enough to help readers tell individual characters apart with ease.

Make Your Resume a Real Contender

When you use these best fonts for resumes, your resume will go from being just another resume to an actual contender that stands out from the rest of the pack with impact. Gone are the days of your resume just ending up in a pile—or on the bottom of it.

When you use these legible fonts, you’re ensuring that your prospective employer or client pays attention to your resume. Not only will he pay attention based on the aesthetic qualities of these fonts, but also from a practical standpoint. When someone who’s going to hire you can actually read your resume with clarity and ease—especially when some of the resumes competing with yours are likely plagued by legibility problems—that counts in your favor a lot.

Use these best fonts for resumes, and land that next project successfully!


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