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A recent article in Nature discusses the effect of typeface on credibility, and points to another study suggesting that

resumes displayed in a high appropriate typeface (Corbel), resulted in the applicant being perceived as more knowledgeable, mature, experienced, professional, believable, and trustworthy than when displayed in a neutral typeface (Tempus Sans) or low appropriate typeface (Vivaldi). ...

Of the typefaces in the study, I would only consider using Corbel - but I don't think this indicates that Corbel is the best, only that it is better than the others in the study, which were rather silly (also Playbill, Bauhaus).

I generally use the LaTeX default Roman font. I could switch to the default sans serif or any font from the LaTeX catalogue but it doesn't include Corbel.

What other fonts should I consider for a curriculum vitae, and is there any way to predict how people will respond to them?

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FWIW Serifs come from the brushmarks that were used to layout text before it was carved into stone, this is where Roman fonts originate, from the Trajan inscription. –  user4491 May 6 '12 at 19:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Of course someone is going to look more professional and knowledgeable using Corbel if the rest of the candidates used those other typefaces. They might as well have compared Corbel to Comic Sans. Makes you wonder if people actually use script and decorative type for resumes.


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Tempus Sans:

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My recommendations for your interest would be serif typefaces like Palatino, Adobe Garamond Pro or Arno Pro. If you want to look more modern with a sans typeface, then perhaps Futura or the ubiquitous Helvetica will suit you. But keep in mind, even with robust and professional typefaces that have proven their worth, people who don't know enough about typography can still make the CV look like a train plowed through the it. Good luck in your search!

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+1 for a great answer. "Makes you wonder if people actually use script and decorative type for resumes.": Actually, I have seen this in the past. I've just put them aside and went for the ones I can actually read. –  Philip Regan Mar 31 '11 at 13:10
Garamond is very elegant –  horatio Mar 31 '11 at 21:40

I agree with the ideas above. Serif faces are easier to read in large text blocks than sans-serif faces (I think that's why the serifs are there, right?)...

  • Serifs (at least for the body - use Sans-serifs for your headings, if you like)
  • Proper leading, kerning
  • Proper font sizes (larger/bolder heads, etc.)

I think if you look at your CV/Resume as a professional document, not a portfolio piece, you'll fair well.

NO font makes you a good designer/professional. It's displaying proper use (and restraint), that may give you that extra edge.

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Serif faces aren't necessarily easier to read than serif. It's a common belief. Some studies hint at it. Others hint at no correlation. Serifs originated from stone carving and were a remnant of the mechanical needs of the stone carver. –  DA01 May 8 '12 at 3:34

I also agree, unsurprisingly! I was intrigued in what the study you quoted had to say until I actually saw what the other fonts were. It'd be better to compare things like Helvetica, Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, and Garamond.

Anyway, in answer to your question, I would say to simply do the most unoriginal and (frankly) boring thing possible. If in doubt, use the common Helvetica for titles and then Times for the body. Avoid the horrible decorative or art-y fonts at all costs.

Use a point size of 11-14 for the body, depending on how much space you've got, and 22-26 for headers.

I personally use Hoefler Text (pictured below) for most formal things. I tend to follow the 'fraction rule' of using a double size for headers and one-and-a-half size for intermediates. That means, if you have size 12 as the body, then header(s) get size 24. Gaps between sections and subheadings are size 18. It tends to work well.

Hoefler Text Sample

You could use bold text for marker headers:
Name: John Smith
DOB: 1 Apr 2000

If you can, keep things aligned! (Please excuse my poor attempt to align the above example.)

The other thing to look out for is the margin lengths. Generally it's easiest to use the word processor's (MS Word, Pages, whatever) default, but make sure that if you do increase/decrease the margins, keep it equal! A lopsided CV isn't very appealing.

Also, don't use Comic Sans MS.

Other than that, there's not much else to say. Enjoy yourself!

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