The Importance of Fonts on a CV

In general, the font used in a CV must be easy on the eyes. It must also be large enough to be easily read whether the document is printed or viewed online.  Further, keep in mind that the font used must “translate” correctly across operating systems. That is: Although you created the document in MS Word 2010 on a Windows Vista operating system, the recipient may be trying to view it on Word for a MAC. If standard fonts are not used in the document, it will display as random characters that make no sense at all. And your masterpiece CV will be quickly discarded as trash.


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Another factor to consider is that not all fonts are suitable for printing or scanning. Even in this age of advanced technology, many employers still handle electronic documents the old-fashioned way.  If you print and mail your CV, chances are that the recipient will scan the document so it can be stored electronically in their candidate database.  One reason for doing this is to make the document searchable based on their criteria for a candidate.  If you are using a font that cannot be accurately recognized with a basic OCR (optical character recognition) scanning program, again, the result will be something that may be trashed before any attempt to read or decipher it.

While anyone and everyone who writes a CV (or enlists someone else to do it) wants a finished product that stands out from the pile of others, getting creative with fonts is usually not a good idea. For a CV/resume, it is best to stick with the tried and true – the ever-popular Times Roman, or the modern-looking Arial, font.  You can use other attributes such as bolding, italics and underlining to emphasize titles and sections. Using color is another no-no. While it might look good on a screen or when printed on a color printer, you don’t know what the recipient’s “viewer of choice” will be. Color sometimes has a way of obscuring the text it is used with.  Research has shown that black text on a white background has the highest readability rate.

Using fonts to distinguish text is an art and science unto itself. If your goal is simply to create a CV/resume or cover letter to introduce yourself to a potential employer, stick with traditional fonts. As you may have noticed, most printed materials like newspapers and magazines use either the Times Roman or the modern Arial font or a mix of both.  It may depend greatly on the audience.  But the ultimate goal of creating a CV/resume is that your document will be read/reviewed – not discarded as trash.  And keep in mind that the first person who sees it may be an office administrator or human resources recruiter – not the hiring manager. The administrator or recruiter may not have any appreciation for your creative efforts. They simply want to see if it is worthy of passing along to the hiring manager. The harder it is for them to read/screen, the less likely that your CV/resume will advance to the next step – review by the hiring manager.

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