Please save me from New York
April 8, 2007 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I have a ton of resume questions, but I'll stick to an easy one. What's a good font to use?

I've looked through relevant resume posts on ask.mefi, and I see lots of mentions of fonts not to use, but very few recommendations. The suggestions I did find aren't on my Mac running OS 10.4. Per the advice I'm reading, I'm looking for something legible, clean, and not overused. FWIW, this is a Word doc and I'm planning only on printing it.
posted by Gilbert to Work & Money (47 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Garamond is legible, clean and not overused.
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 PM on April 8, 2007

Garamond or Georgia. Love Georgia size 10.
posted by inoculatedcities at 9:37 PM on April 8, 2007

I adore garamond.

similarly, there's Palatino Linotype at font 11 or 10, Book Antiqua at 11, and Sylfaen at 12.

Palatino and Garamond stil win though.
posted by Phire at 9:39 PM on April 8, 2007

I'll fourth Garamond. Only font that's gotten me compliments.
posted by Hadroed at 9:46 PM on April 8, 2007

Georgia. I also like Helvetica, a lot, but it's perhaps not what you're looking for.
posted by rossination at 9:47 PM on April 8, 2007

Arial is the font I've always used, and I have had many jobs. I think as long as you use something that isn't tacky (like comic sans) then you'll be fine.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:47 PM on April 8, 2007

I second Georgia, although I've always been a fan of New Century Schoolbook as well.
posted by gemmy at 9:48 PM on April 8, 2007

I would disagree with Comic Sans just for the simple reason that I see it used by a lot of elementary and high school instructors or staff.

I suggest that you look at this article on how to choose the best type that lists several options at Before and After Magazine, one of the best design magazines going.
posted by jadepearl at 9:49 PM on April 8, 2007

I was going to say Garamond before I saw the slew of other people saying the same thing. (Now I'm rethinking it -- what's the next-most-obscure good font?)
posted by salvia at 9:58 PM on April 8, 2007

I have to disagree with Effigy. Formal print pretty much requires serifs.

I like Computer Modern and it would be my choice for a resume. It may be hard to get/use if you're not using LaTeX, but I do see a link to a truetype version on wikipedia. It's hard to say how good the truetype version is, and not being a mac guy, I'm not sure whether that helps anyway - hope it does.
posted by putril at 10:00 PM on April 8, 2007

I use Garamond on my resume too!
posted by k8t at 10:09 PM on April 8, 2007

Response by poster: Garamond was an early choice, but it seems so stuffy (at least for an office job). I'm loving Georgia and Palatino, and I'm surprised that I don't have New Century Schoolbook. This is all excellent.
posted by Gilbert at 10:12 PM on April 8, 2007

Does it matter if it's "overused"? Font is one of those things that shouldn't call attention to itself unless it's a focus. Times New Roman is a classic--clean, legible, and unobtrusive.

Unless you're applying for a design-related job?
posted by Many bubbles at 10:33 PM on April 8, 2007

I'm a huge fan of either size 10 Times New Roman, with bold/italics/tabs for formatting. It creates a very clean, easily scannable resume.

Palatino has got to be one of the best underused fonts around, although in smaller sizes its slightly less readable than Times New Roman to my eyes.

I'd shy away from Computer Modern just because I tend to associate it with academic/scientific papers, & I tend not to like the formatting of [la]tex resumes. While there are some good templates, it seems to work better to have full control of the formatting to play with how it looks overall.
posted by devilsbrigade at 10:55 PM on April 8, 2007

Follow the "G" typeface rule when in doubt.

Garamond, Goudy, Gill Sans, etc...
posted by jca at 11:01 PM on April 8, 2007

Times New Roman. It is the default on Word and it is what people are used to reading. Your goal is transmitting short, powerful and simple written details of your experience and skills to people who do not want to be looking over resumes anyway. Your resume should not transmit anything about your "personality." Thus, being familiar and direct is the best method to communicate and that includes the font.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:16 PM on April 8, 2007

I am relieved to see Ironmouth's answer, because it was the first thing that came to my mind as well. Fancy fonts get in the way of the information you are trying to transmit. That doesn't rule out Garamond, of course. But I think Times New Roman's ubiquity should count in its favor rather than against it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:33 PM on April 8, 2007

Minion. Goudy (even Goudy Old Style for some jobs). And most of the suggestions above. Nothing wrong with using a sans serif typeface like Myriad or Gill Sans -- it doesn't speak to professionality for most jobs. But I might avoid Arial.

Don't use Times New Roman. Search for "resume sins" and that's always near the top of the list.

10 point is the smallest type you should use, and you should have ample whitespace.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:47 PM on April 8, 2007

OK, solid-one-love, I searched for 'resume sins' and looked at maybe a dozen results. Times New Roman appeared on exactly one list. The other lists all talked about content and seldom even mentioned design, except to say something along the lines of 'keep it clean and presentable, make it readable, avoid flashy fonts.' Some of the pages said something like 'try not to make it too dull' but always qualified it with the above.

In fact if you google 'resume times roman', the first hit is a resume sin (the one I found from before), but most of the rest of the first page of hits argues in favor of using Times or other well-known fonts. And in fact, a few of the hits are from HR sites encouraging the use of Times because it can be scanned and OCR'd easily. The only reason the first site didn't like Times is because they claim the spacing is poor when printed from Word (they endorse Georgia as a good alternative).

Of course this still doesn't rule out Garamond. And the one exception to all of this is for design-oriented jobs, where the resume could count as part of your portfolio.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:08 AM on April 9, 2007

I may be conflating my readings on design (which suggest avoiding TNR for pretty much everything) with my search history. There are, however, a ton of search hits that suggest avoiding TNR in 10-point as it scans poorly. I will stand behind my suggestion to avoid TNR in general.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:22 AM on April 9, 2007

Granted, I'm a type nerd, but I what I noticed when I reviewed incoming resumes at my previous job was that the ones done in TNR or Arial or Comic fucking Sans (why?) were chock-full of errors. Default or cutesy fonts say

a) "I can't be bothered to change the default. If I work for you, I will let Word spell-check my documents because I don't know how to use a dictionary. I refuse to learn."


b) "I have horrible taste and I make bad decisions. I will do bizarre things like try to send emails to URLs instead of email addresses."

On the other hand, the resumes set in Georgia or Garamond or another readable, clean, and not overused or default serif were on balance much more well put together and more organized, and the candidates were better prepared and more interesting and intelligent. This is not always the case, of course, but I was so struck by the difference in quality in the two piles that I actually made a mental note of it.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:23 AM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

And of course: Résumé Font Offends Employer
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:26 AM on April 9, 2007

nthing Garmond. First thing they noticed about my last proposal. clear crisp font (looks way better in print).
posted by special-k at 12:33 AM on April 9, 2007

My recommendation would be that for more of a traditional standard, go with Garamond.

If you want a sans serif and look a bit more relaxed, try Gill Sans.

Don't make people focus on your font unless you are applying for a position that requires a knowledge of fonts. These two will look professional and not draw away from the content of what you are presenting.

(there are other good ones noted above, these are just my choices that fit the bill)
posted by qwip at 12:38 AM on April 9, 2007

I just noticed the title of this thread, which I think strongly suggests which way the original poster is leaning with respect to Times New Roman - so I won't say any more on the topic. Hope the discussion was useful. Optimus, that's an interesting story.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:38 AM on April 9, 2007

I'd say that it depends a lot on what you're applying for.

I'm a web developer and I tend to write my CVs in either the very dull but readable verdana or the rather more attractive Georgia. (I've also been known to do the body in verdana and the dates in georgia, but that's probably not a great idea).

When I was given the job of finding new junior web developers I discounted several applicants because they used Times New Roman or Comic Sans.
posted by twine42 at 1:00 AM on April 9, 2007

I use Book Antiqua for mine; a rule of thumb I've heard is to use a font with "Book" in its name, as they are designed for print rather than screen.

I also read a book recently that used Galliard as its typeface; it's a very attractive font that I regrettably do not have (or want to pay for) on my PC, but perhaps you'll have better luck on your Mac.

Beyond that, please don't use a sans-serif font. I'm not an HR person or anything but I tend to think sans fonts look significantly less professional. Also, those who would use Comic Sans, for this or anything else, should receive long-term bans from computers in general.
posted by SuperNova at 1:39 AM on April 9, 2007

Try it in Verdana and see how you like it. Verdana is usually used for ease of reading onscreen; used for print it gives a very clean and direct, simple, sans serif look. This look may not be appropriate for resumes in very traditional fields (financial, medical, academic), but it can be excellent in some contexts.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:29 AM on April 9, 2007

I used Optima on the résumés I sent out for the last two jobs I've had.
posted by emelenjr at 3:35 AM on April 9, 2007

I would say sans-serif is much too broad a category at this point to characterize as unprofessional across the board. Arial and Helvetica, for example, seem unprofessional both due to overuse and due to their condensed feel (they are definitely not good for quick scanning, which makes them especially bad for a resume). Verdana, on the other hand, is excellent for scanning and not overused in print.
posted by allterrainbrain at 3:40 AM on April 9, 2007

I originally used Georgia, but switched to Garamond because I decided I like the appearance of the numbers better. The strange drop-tails on some numbers in Georgia annoy me on a resume.

I'd vote against TNR, but then again, I do work in design.
posted by Alterscape at 4:08 AM on April 9, 2007

You might be interested in this book once you settle on a font. It covers the very basics of text layout and'll give you some simple things you can do to make your resume look clean and professional.
posted by buriedpaul at 4:46 AM on April 9, 2007

Using a sans serif font on a resume is like wearing white after labor day. Just don't do it. It's gauche. Unless you're applying to be dressed as what you're selling on the sidewalk outside the store, your resume should have serifs.

That said, stick with Times New Roman or Garamond. Goudy Old Style is nice, too. My GF who worked in development and had to send out solicitous letters to fancy people swore by it.

The thing about using anything too obscure or "different" is that I think it makes you look pretentious. I really think resumes should look clean and professional, not unique and interesting.
posted by sneakin at 4:52 AM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

The first seven comments hit nearly all of my favorites. I'd add, if you're on a Mac or have access to one, try it with Hoefler Text. (If you're temporarily on said Mac, use File>Print>Save to PDF to make yourself a permanent, Hoeflerized copy.) That and Garamond are the only typefaces that have ever compelled me to ask, 'What is that beautiful face?' Also try Cochin, but don't judge it from its on-screen appearance. Print it out, it's a whole different ballgame.

In general, I'd say a resumé deserves a classic, not a modern font. (If, like me, you're a very beginning type geek, that means serifs, and it means that the narrowest part of a bowl is not at the very top or bottom, but offset.) Moderns read easy for short phrases, but for connected text I strongly prefer a classic. You can break this rule if you already knew what a modern is, and which of your fonts is one. In that case—I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Please, please, please disregard the suggestions to use Times New Roman. It meets its original goals well, but those goals were to be legible with a minimum of ink and to be legible when printed with newspaper ink on newsprint. Both of these requirements prompted decisions that make it look disproportionate and clumsy when printed crisply by laser on office paper. IMO it comes out with an overbearing and disorganized stress, a spotty texture, and clunky shapes. I especially can't stand the f.

Computer Modern is what TNR should be like. I still wouldn't recommend it for a resumé, but it's got good shapes and its stress is well-regulated. Bless you, Knuth.
posted by eritain at 5:40 AM on April 9, 2007

On post-view, duh, you are on a Mac. Garamond, Hoefler Text, Cochin, New Century Schoolbook, Palatino, and Georgia.
posted by eritain at 5:42 AM on April 9, 2007

Garamond would be fine, but if you have access to nicer fonts, my favorite über-readable, elegant text font is Adobe Jenson. And it comes with Creative Suite, so if you have InDesign you should have it.
posted by raf at 5:58 AM on April 9, 2007

(The only issue with Garamond is that, like Times, it has a very small x-height, so it looks smaller than it is, which makes it a little harder to read.)
posted by raf at 5:58 AM on April 9, 2007

Here's what I use: Myriad for headers, Minion for body text. Both Adobe fonts, both elegant, both included in the Creative Suite.
posted by limeonaire at 6:06 AM on April 9, 2007

(They're also included with Acrobat Reader, etc. So you'll very likely have them for use in Word.)
posted by limeonaire at 6:16 AM on April 9, 2007

Georgia has the advantage of having been designed with screen legibility in mind. That might put it ahead of the other choices if you're submitting a resume online and suspect it will be read that way. It's less awesome on the page, though, if only because there are loads of other good print fonts for it to compete with.

I'm surprised to see people suggesting Computer Modern, since it's always struck me as ungainly. It was designed by a programmer, not a type designer, and it shows. Really, I'd only use it if I was applying for a job where knowledge of TeX was required, since it screams "I wrote this in TeX" to anyone who uses the program.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:43 AM on April 9, 2007

No no no no Times New Roman. Please. It is so ugly and squat. It was designed for teeny newspaper columns.

No Arial. no Verdana. If you want a sans serif, Gill Sans is one of the best options.

For serifs other than Garamond (always a nice choice), I love Adobe Jenson or Centaur.
posted by apostrophe at 7:23 AM on April 9, 2007

Oh, and Hoefler Text is nice too. it's got an especially great italic, and lovely old-fashioned figures (i.e. the numbers, which dip below the baseline).
posted by apostrophe at 7:25 AM on April 9, 2007

The most part, I like Computer Modern, but I've always found that it looks out of place in documents you don't expect to be typeset with TeX, especially in a non-academic resume.

Aldus is a nice serif font that's readable at small point sizes. It looks more or less like Palatino, but it's a little lighter in weight. I'm not sure if it comes with Creative Suite, though.
posted by thisjax at 7:55 AM on April 9, 2007

Why not verdana? It looks formal enough to me + very readable. Much better than cluttery serif fonts.

CVs contain short bullet points or 1-2 sentence fragments. They are designed to be read quickly (like 1 minute!) by someone who has 100 CVs to read. You want that information transmitted: a readable font for skimming is KEY. This I learned the hard way after having my CV trashed by half a dozen professors when i used sentences and times new roman.
posted by lalochezia at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2007

I'm really surprised that no one has hit upon my all time favorite serif:


Elegant, simple, and really beautiful. I like it at 11pt.

The only problem is that it isn't a standard font for any system that I'm aware of...for standards, you could do much worse than the seemingly overwhelming choice of Garamond.
posted by griffey at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2007

Wow. I fully expected this thread to be 20 posts of "It doesn't really matter". So I'm a bit surprised to see dozens of posts about various fonts. But then I've never been a "font person".

At work, all the resumes are plain text, usually via email. So the idea that the font matters seems a bit foreign to me,
posted by alikins at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2007

Personally, I use Perpetua, which comes with Microsoft Office Publisher. Since I rarely submit paper resumes, I generally send my resume in PDF format to avoid font-incompatibility issues that arise when the person on the other end does not have Perpetua installed. Perpetua, in my opinion, looks gorgeous at smaller sizes when printed.

When submitting electronic resumes to companies that request it in Word format, I have a Garamond version prepared. I'm considering switching to Georgia, though.
posted by roomwithaview at 10:33 AM on April 9, 2007

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