These simple CV details could make or break your application

We all know that presentation is key for a good CV – a recruiter or hiring manager will start making judgments about you as soon as they glance at your document, before they've even read a word. Making the right impression is key.

Your job is to make it as easy as possible for them to evaluate your CV, and font plays a part in that. If an HR Manager gives up because the text is too small, the words are too condensed on the page, or you've chosen a hard-to-read typeface, you've fallen at the first hurdle.

If you want to figure out the best font and font size to use on your CV, we're here to guide you.

What is the best font for a CV?

To start, always choose a CV font that is widely available. You need something that can be read by most software, so being too original isn't going to help you here.

There are some professional fonts that work particularly well on a CV. If you're not sure where to start, you've come to the right place. Let's take a look at 10 of the best fonts to use for your CV:

1. Calibri 

Calibri is the default font on the latest version of Microsoft Word. That should tell you everything you need to know. It's legible, clear, and will look professional on the page. 

2. Calibri Light 

Looking for a thinner, lighter version of the classic? You can use Calibri Light instead. This font is exactly what it says on the tin - a thinner option.

3. Times New Roman 

Times New Roman has long been one of the most respected typefaces. If you're going for a traditional job, you might find that this old-school font is the way to go.

4. Arial 

If you're looking for a minimal sans-serif font, you can't go far wrong with Arial. This is one of the most popular fonts for CVs and it's clear to see why.

5. Verdana

Verdana is a more contemporary option that is ideal for on-screen reading. So, if you're sending your next CV as an attachment via email, you might want to use this typeface. 

6. Cambria 

Cambria is an attractive serif font and is used in many business materials. However, be aware that this one can be hard to read if the font size is too small. 

7. Garamond 

Staying in the same ballpark, Garamond has fast become a popular font for modern CVs. Once again, you'll need to make sure that you get the spacing right on this one.

8. Book Antiqua 

Inspired by writing from the Italian Renaissance, Book Antiqua is a fancy typeface. If you're looking to impress the hiring manager with a stylised CV, you could use this one.

9. Trebuchet MS

Simple and easy to read, Trebuchet MS is a sans serif font that you can use on your CV. If you're looking to create a straightforward, minimal document, try out this font now.

10. Arial Narrow 

Arial Narrow is a light version of the standard Arial font. If you want to instantly create more white space on the page, you might want to consider giving this one a whirl.  

All of the above are easy to read and accurately interpreted by applicant tracking systems. Choose the wrong font and the ATS could end up filling your CV with those little boxes (▯) that we've all seen when software tries to read incompatible text.

When you've finally chosen a professional font, stick to it. Outside of differentiating headers from body text, more than one font on a CV can look decidedly unprofessional.

What fonts should you always avoid on your CV?

Comic Sans has a terrible (if slightly undeserved) reputation and should certainly not be used on any self-respecting CV. The only possible exception to this would be if you're aiming to work with small children, but even then it's inadvisable ‒ your CV should be aimed at the adults reviewing it.

Any CV font that looks fun, bubbly or themed, such as Jokerman, Cavolini or Old English, should be avoided as well, as should cursive fonts such as Freestyle Script and Brush Script. They don't look professional and are difficult to read.

Common mistakes when choosing a font for CVs

Before you choose the best font for your CV, there are some things that you should keep in mind. Let's take a look at some of the most common mistakes you should avoid: 

  • Mixing too many font styles. At most, you should choose 1-2 typefaces for your CV. If you chop and change the font in every section, it will look chaotic and hard to read. 
  • Failing to consider the role. The design of your CV should match the vacancy and industry you're going for.
  • Not aligning with your brand. When you're choosing which font to use, consider how it aligns with your professional brand. Are you more Times New Roman or Garamond?
  • Choosing a hard-to-read font. You might love a certain font style, but is it easy to read? Don't merely go with something that looks attractive. Think about whether it's legible.
Picking the best font for your CV is not merely about choosing a style that you like. You need to be strategic when you're choosing the right font for your application. 

FAQs about choosing the best font for a CV

What is the difference between serif and sans serif fonts?

The first decision you need to make is whether to use a serif or sans serif font. To clarify, a serif font has small decorative flourishes on its letters,whereas a sans-serif font doesn't. 

You can use either, but there are things to keep in mind about each style. Sans serif fonts are considered to be easier to read on a screen, which is where most people will first encounter your CV. They also ensure that the CV looks clean, contemporary and uncluttered.

However, if there's a high chance of your CV being printed (or if you're planning to print it yourself to hand over in person), a serif font may be the better choice. They are a traditional font that can look dated, but they're easier to read on paper and are generally preferred by the more traditional industries.

What is the best font size for a CV? 

Now that you've decided on your CV font, you need to choose which point size to use. Too large and you risk looking childish with little to say, but too small and you risk making the CV too difficult to read and bother with. We recommend using a 10–12-point font. 

This will look professional and is large enough to read easily but small enough to ensure you can include everything you need to say.

Is a 10-point font too small for a CV?

A 10-point font is ideal for most CVs. If you feel like you need to use a smaller font size in order to cram everything in, you probably need to be more ruthless with your editing. 

Consider narrowing the margins, summarising your earlier career more succinctly or removing details that are irrelevant to your current career objective. That will help you keep your CV within the target one to two pages whilst remaining readable with an appropriate font size.

Is a 12 point-font too large for a CV?

A 12-point font is also perfectly acceptable – you may even want to use a larger font for your section headings. However, don't let the main body of text go any larger than 12 point.

 If you need to use something larger to fill the space, you've probably not included enough information to sell yourself adequately. Rather than increasing the CV font size, try giving more detail on your responsibilities and achievements or including voluntary work and skills gained from hobbies on your CV.

Can I use bold, italics or underlines?

Yes! It's absolutely fine to use bold and italics, but do so sparingly. Whilst they're not appropriate for large chunks of text, you can use them for headers, to highlight key information and to quote, for example, titles of publications. Underlined text is not unheard of, but it tends to be associated with hyperlinks these days and is therefore best avoided if possible.

Key points

The key points to consider when choosing the best font for your CV are:

  • Do I look professional and authoritative?

  • Is it easy for a recruiter to read and pick out critical information?

  • Will my CV be accurately read by an applicant tracking system?

Ask yourself these questions as you go about writing your CV. Then, duplicate the typeface, point size and style on your cover letter to present a cohesive personal brand. You need to make sure that your documents are uniform at all times. You're good to go! 

Our TopCV expert writers know how a CV should look. Click here to submit your CV for a free CV review.

This article was originally written by Jen David and has been updated by Charlotte Grainger. 

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