The Font Style Guide: Resume Edition For Students


When making a résumé or cover letter, you have to consider your relative job experience, the skills you bring, and that it is all organized in a logical manner. But have you ever thought about the font you’re using?

The font is often the most visual component of your résumé or cover letter, and yes, some employers do look at the type of font you used. So, what are some things to ponder over when selecting a font, and what are these fonts possibly conveying?

1. Serif fonts

Serif fonts are ones like “Baskerville” or “Georgia” that are meant to mimic quill or writing from an old-fashioned pen; these fonts have flourishes on certain letters. Fonts like these tend to give off a more traditional and reliable aura. Serif fonts are the best to use if you are going to do a bit of walking and hand out your résumé as the more distinctive letters make them easier to read in print.

2. Sans Serif fonts

Sans Serif fonts are fonts like “Helvetica” and “Calibri.” They do not have the tails or other flourishes as the Serif fonts (hence “sans”); so they tend to be seen as more clean and modern. These fonts are your safest choices for most business and office jobs as well as for any job you are submitting your résumé online, as Sans Serif fonts are the easiest to read on-screen.

A quick note on cover letters…
You will only want to use sans serif or serif fonts on your cover letters as these types of fonts are seen as the most professional. You will also likely want to use the font you used for the majority of your résumé as your cover letter font for a sense of co-ordination.

3. Script fonts

Script fonts imitate cursive writing; so fonts like “Zapfino” or “Bickham Script” would be classified as script fonts. This genre of font tends to give a more elegant and creative flare to the document. However, this is one style you do not want to use extensively or use multiple kinds of as they can become difficult to read. You will also have to consider that an increasing number of people are not learning cursive, so you may not be understood at all. You will also want more space between lines, as script fonts tend to have flourishes that dip above and below the main line of text. If you want to use script fonts I would suggest keeping it as your header font or perhaps something to write your name in.

4. Display fonts

Display fonts are essentially the “other” category. Fonts like “Giddyup” or “Jazz” fall under this heading. Like the script fonts you want to use these sparingly and stick to the more elegant ones. This style of font is so seldom used though, you could really use it to stand out, as many of these fonts are seen as fun and creative.

5. Font size

Font size will depend on the font you use. You want a size that will be legible (even when printed out), but not so big that it looks childish. Generally that will lie in the size ten to thirteen range. When in doubt, size eleven is your best bet.

6. Special jobs

If you are applying for a more visual job (i.e. graphic designer) you will have a bit more leeway in your fonts, and be able to use your résumé as a way to display what you can do and how well you can do it. You will still want to exercise caution on the script and display fonts, but you can be a bit more daring.

What font have you been using for your resume? Is it time to make a change?