What to include in a CV? Which CV sections to keep off? This complete guide outlines exactly which things to put on your CV to make it shine.
A nightmare scenario:
You’ve prepared a perfect CV. You’ve got the right skills and top-class experience for the job. You even included a cover letter. Yet—
Nobody called back.
Because your CV is as illegible as a doctor’s prescription.
Good CV layout is key. But if you use unreadable fonts, nobody will care to lay their eyes upon it.
This guide will show you:
- A list of best fonts for CVs and cover letters.
- How to pair fonts together to make CVs pop.
- Tips and examples of how to pick the best font for cover letters and CVs.
- How to choose between different types of fonts, as well as bold, italics, and underlines.
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1. Best Fonts to Use for CVs & Cover Letters—Top 10
Without further ado, here is our list of best fonts for CVs and cover letters:
Font #1: Calibri
The Calibri font is one of the sans serif, modern fonts. It is the default font in Microsoft Office, and it has recently been added to Google Docs.
Its widespread usage means that HR managers and ATS software will be able to open your documents and render them correctly (that does not mean you shouldn't use an ATS-friendly CV template).
Calibri is the best font for cover letters and CVs alike.
Expert Hint: Serif vs sans serif, what do they mean? Serifs are those tiny brushstrokes at the ends of letters’ lines (such as the three points of a letter y). Sans-serif fonts are more modern typefaces which don’t include those brushstrokes.
Font #2: Cambria
The Cambria font is like Calibri’s serif counterpart, and it is also one of the most popular fonts in use.
Likewise, Cambria is available for both Google Docs and Microsoft Office products, so hiring managers will be able to view your CV as you intended. It is our choice among the best serif fonts on our list.
Font #3: Noto
Noto fonts is Google’s largest typeface project in which they aim to have one font family that can cover every available language and glyph out there.
Also, Noto fonts is open source and freely available, making it a great choice for CV writers, especially if needing to use a non-Latin alphabet.
Noto is available in both serif and sans serif variants. Looking for the best Google fonts? This is it.
Expert Hint: Serif or sans serif for CVs? An old study used to say serif fonts help legibility. However, newer studies say that sans serif fonts are easier to read on older screens, but serif fonts are okay for headings and section titles.
Font #4: Georgia
The Georgia font is one of the most professional fonts for CVs or cover letters.
Georgia is our second serif font on the list, and many large names use it today; it is the New York Times font as well as Amazon’s.
Font #5: Helvetica
The Helvetica font has been a popular choice of designers and advertisers for decades. Helvetica is used by the NYC underground system and the UK’s National Health Service.
Though this sans serif font has been around for over a half century, it still remains one of the foremost modern fonts.
Expert Hint: Never use a script font or cursive font on a cover letter or CV. It’s hard to read, and THAT makes you hard to hire.
Font #6: Garamond
The Garamond font is a blend of traditional serifs mixing with a more modern design. Though the Garamond typeface family is centuries old, designers continue to praise it as one of the most elegant fonts.
The Cormorant font is a popular, freely-available replacement for Garamond.
Font #7: Verdana
The Verdana font is a sexy, full-figured typeface which was created for Microsoft to be a sans serif counterpart to the Georgia font we mentioned earlier.
Verdana is a top CV choice, due to its excellent readability even at very small font sizes—perfect for employers!
A popular Verdana alternative is Microsoft’s Tahoma font.
Font #8: Lato
The Lato font was created for Poland’s first independent daily newspaper just two decades ago, but since has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
Lato is an open source font, and it covers Latin, Cyrillic, Greek, and IPA alphabets and scripts, making it perfect for many international CVs.
Expert Hint: Typeface vs font? When you think of a font such as the Century Gothic font, Times New Roman font, or Didot font, you are technically referring to a specific typeface (a font family). Calibri (as a whole) is a typeface, while Calibri italicised, 12pt is a font. You better know the difference if getting a job in design!
Font #9: Trebuchet MS
The Trebuchet font (or Trebuchet MS) is a sans serif font created for Microsoft by Vincent Connare, who also created the notorious Comic Sans font which renders all CVs unreadable.
(Avoid Comic Sans at all costs!)
As Microsoft puts it, he “created a font that works at heading and display sizes as well as small sizes and low resolutions.” That makes Trebuchet perfect for the large text of modern CV headers as well as the tiny font sizes of cover letter text.
Font #10: Book Antiqua
Finally, a wildcard: the Book Antiqua font. This font may seem dated, but it’s held on for years and years. Today, it is still popular on more traditional CV formats.
Book Antiqua is a “a roman typeface based on pen-drawn letters of the Italian Renaissance.” Definitely one of the most classy fonts out there.
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2. What’s the Best CV Font Size?
What size font for CV and cover letter text?
The best font size for CV and cover letter body text is between 11–12pts. You could go with 10pts, but that’s beginning to push it on the small end. However, it may be useful for less consequential text, such as dates worked at a past job.
For CV subsections and their headings, you can increase that size 2–4pts (13–16pts) to help them stand out and help scannability.
Finally, your name at the top can be another 2–4pts larger than that (15–20pts) to help it stand out well and act as a sort of CV page title.
Expert Hint: Your cover letter should match your CV in terms of styling and design. Choose the same cover letter template as your CV template, and keep font sizes consistent on both.
3. Ideal Font Style for Cover Letters & CVs
Bold font—Bold text is particularly useful for drawing the reader’s attention to specific words or phrases. In the case of CV writing, you can guide their gaze over to CV keywords.
In the CV work experience section, bolding is great to start off each entry, specifically to highlight the position you have/had. Check the example:
- Effective Writing for Strategic Public Relations
- Social, Legal, and Ethical Foundations of Public Relations
- Business and Economic Foundations of Public Relations
Italic font—Italics are great for supporting text, such as dates and explanatory statements.
In the CV work history area, italics comes in handy for the second line, where you give the company name you worked for, along with the city and state. See the example:
Junior Flight Attendant
jetBlue Airways, New York, NY
Underline—Don’t underline text on your CV. Underlining will already be used on digital CVs to identify and email addresses and URLs, such as your LinkedIn profile. Any more underlined text and the CV starts feeling messy.
Font Colour—For most CV designs, you’re best sticking with a black colour font. Black stands out best against light (hopefully white) backgrounds, making it clear and legible.
However, if you have a dual-tone CV, with say a heading area in dark blue, white text goes well here.
Kerning—In typography, kerning is the adjustment between letters. In some more advanced word processing programs, you may be able to adjust this font spacing. Letters too close together have been proven to be hard to read.
Line spacing—When writing, line spacing is the space that separates one row (line) of text with the row above or below it.
For CVs and cover letters, keep it single-spaced. In terms of line space size, that should equate to 1.0–1.15.
Expert Hint: Use font styling such as italics and bold sparingly. Too much will be counterproductive to the points you were trying to highlight. Also, don’t use too many colours on your CV, whether in text or otherwise.
4. Pairing CV Fonts to Increase Readability
Graphic designers and other artistic people often pair fonts together.
Why pair fonts?
If you find two fonts that complement each other well, it can really make your cover letter and CV stand out and pop.
As a job seeker, you want that!
On CVs, the most common font pairings come where body text is either serif or sans serif, with headings and subsection titles being the opposite.
Here’s what that may look like:
Together, the sans serif title with the serif body text (or vice versa) provide a stark contrast that make it a more pleasurable (which could translate to longer!) reading experience.
Expert Hint: “Should I include a cover letter in my application documents?” Our recent survey revealed that 4 out of 5 recruiters will consider a cover letter from you an important part of your job application.
Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter builder and make your application documents pop out.
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- In experts’ opinion, Calibri is the best font for a CV and cover letter.
- Comic sans and other script or funky typefaces make the worst fonts.
- Body text should be 11–12pts, while subsection headings can be 13–16pts.
- Use bold and italics sparingly to accentuate particular passages.
- Pairing fonts together may help your cover letter and CV to shine.
- Be consistent with your font choices between your CV and cover letter.
- A good CV layout is key. The proper font and margins will make your CV more visually appealing and easier to read.
Got any questions on what font to use for CV or cover letter writing? Any helpful tips for font pairing? Let’s talk about it in the comments below, and, as always, thanks for reading!