yes, you can use Times New Roman on your resume

A bunch of people have sent me this article making its way around the internet that claims that you shouldn’t use Times New Roman on your resume.

Like so much resume advice that focuses on the look of your resume rather than its substance, it’s wrong and you can ignore it.

If you read the article closely, you’ll notice that this wasn’t an actual study of how hiring managers perceive different fonts. They asked three typography specialists which typefaces people should use.

Typography specialists — people who care passionately about fonts.

Not hiring managers.

When are people going to stop taking hiring advice from people who aren’t in charge of hiring? (Answer: Never, because this approach offers endless possibilities for click-bait.)

As long as you pick a professional and reasonably conservative font, your resume font doesn’t matter.

At least outside of the design field, no one is being particularly influenced by whether your you use Times New Roman over Helvetica. They’re just not.

It’s true that there are some fonts that aren’t professional enough for a resume (hopefully at this point we don’t even need to name Comic Sans), but when you hear people telling you that your resume font needs to be “exciting” or “attention-grabbing,” mark that person down as someone who doesn’t understand what matters in a resume and continue happily on your way.

And be highly, highly skeptical of people telling you that hiring managers care deeply about things that no sane hiring manager you know has ever cared about.

{ 290 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam*

    I’ll admit, when I first saw that article I immediately thought of you. I don’t think I’ve ever had my resume in TNR, but I can’t imagine why anybody would care if it was. Too old fashioned? I don’t even remember what the article said.

    1. Anna the Accounting Student*

      Maybe it’s because I’m more of a cat geek than a typeface geek, but I had to remind myself that TNR isn’t “trap neuter return.” Perhaps I should look be working with FSC (Felis silvestris catus).

      1. Adam*

        Are we starting one of those comment chains? Ok, I moved this past weekend and that process always seriously stresses me out, so I’ll call it “Taming Neurotic Responses.”

        1. Creag an Tuire*

          The article would make more sense that way — while nobody cares overmuch about fonts, neutering your interviewer is a good way to end your candidacy.

    2. fposte*

      I think they felt it was too generic. Seems to me that too generic is good–you’re not noticing the typeface but what the text is saying. But that would probably be heresy to the font folks.

      1. Adam*

        That’s what I thought. I think a resume should be designed visually to look so good that the reader doesn’t actually notice how good it looks.

        1. Anonsie*

          Agreed, but I actually have always sent documents (especially resumes) in a very close analog of the standard Arial or Times specifically because those are the defaults. It’s a small enough change that no one would actively notice it, but it is at least not going to look identical to anything else the readers will have gone through that day, which is something. I also heavily micromanage the spacing.

          That said, my mom was an old school graphic designer and she pointed out fonts to me a lot growing up so I am someone who is hyper aware of fonts as well.

    3. steve g*

      Me too! But I did change my resume after reading this article anyways! I’m a sucker, I guess. But I was able to fit more about my crazy startup job onto one page using a different font, so it was a good change nonetheless

    4. Stryker*

      Apparently, using TNR shows that you’re “too lazy” to change the default type and not actually invested in the process. (Bullshit, but there it is.)

        1. fposte*

          Though that’s assuming everybody with old Word has updated. Based on software reports people make to AAM, I’m guessing that’s not the case.

        2. Mints*

          That was my thought too! Calibri looks a lot like Helvetica, too, so the argument completely doesn’t make sense.

          I think mine is Georgia or Garamond. Which I find more pretty than Times. (“Pretty” not “professional”)

  2. Kelly L.*

    Thank you for this. I can’t imagine any sane hiring manager being actually offended by TNR, on the level of wearing sweatpants to an interview. Comic Sans might = sweatpants. TNR = an unflashy but totally functional gray suit.

      1. brightstar*

        Now I am picturing Chunk from The Goonies in his hawaiian shirt and plaid pants. So now Comic Sans is personalized for me.

        1. Darth Admin*

          You have to do the truffle shuffle to get your resume through to the hiring manager.

      2. Kelly O*

        Socks (pulled all the way up) with sandals.

        Fanny pack.

        Giant camera around the neck.

        Walking around saying things like “Betty, look over there! Look how tall that building is! Ain’t it tall?”

    1. Newbie*

      I HATE Comic Sans!!!! Too overused for everything other than an actual letter, memo or other professional communication in my office. I will – quite literally – blank out and start to gloss over what ever the document says if it is in CS…We once had our HR Director (HR DIRECTOR!!!) send out a company survey to EVERYONE in our office. It was just a simple questionnare about our monthly birthday luncheons – but I still get twisted when I think about it. It was in Comic Sans…this was about 2 years ago… And, yes – I realize I should forgive and move on, but jeesh!! Perhaps it is finally out of my system after my rant just now…

      1. Newbie*

        And, Carrie – I LOVE your CS link above…greatness and actually made me laugh out loud several times!!

  3. Katherine Jameson*

    Ha, I laughed at the article, and while I agree with you, Alison, that substance and content are what matters, I have such a visceral hatred for Times New Roman that I may be subconsciously making judgments against it without realizing it.

    1. KimmieSue*

      I’ve never rejected a resume based on font (I’m in staffing) but hate TNR as well.

    2. Lingua Franca*

      As someone who does a fair amount of hiring, I cringe a little when I get a resume in TNR. To me it is a throwback to Wordperfect DOS days, and to some degree plants the writer squarely in that mode as well.

      I would hope that I have never rejected anyone outright based on their use of the antiquated font, but in my world it does no one any favours and makes it seem as though people are not really ‘with it’ when it comes to modern business presentation.

      While content ultimately surpasses the type of font, I think it still matters very much how something is presented. If I am hiring someone to write communications, proposals, and letters, I would question the judgement of someone claiming to be a communications guru if they are still using TNR.

      1. A Minion*

        You would seriously question their judgment? Can you give a realistic example of a time when you’d think to yourself, “Hmm, I don’t know if this guy is able to make that decision. He did use Times New Roman on his resume, after all.”

      2. Shannon Terry*

        I’ll chime in as another career industry professional (resume writer, actually). I like Lingua Franca’s input as it’s what I hear from the hiring managers in my network, too.

        My favorite point of AAM’s post is that these articles are interviewing typography specialists (and the other article was designers) – NOT HIRING MANAGERS.

        I also contract with a global placement agency, and this discussion was happening in their offices, too, after a candidate, having read the article cited or the NPR article about fonts, had asked her placement agent about it, in a panic….

        Content matters MOST. Contributions and skills, and concise & clear communication about them on your resume. Presentation does matter, but the minutia of the font aspects, outside a design/creative field, do not.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I can’t speak for others, but if you’re reading on a screen, TNR isn’t as easy to read as some other options. For that reason, I think there’s something to be said for considering switching to a font that is easy to read on a screen. That said, I can’t imagine any hiring manager would intentionally ding anyone for it.

        I think for most people (me included) TNR hate isn’t based on anything in particular other than taste. Some people love Brighton handbags. I hate them. But I wouldn’t not hire someone who had one or tell someone not to buy them if they liked them.

        1. PEBCAK*

          I was taught to use sans serifs for stuff to be read on a screen, and serifs for things to be printed. It’s not clear which would be the case for a resume.

    3. Prismatic Professional*

      I’m curious why you have such a strong visceral response. It is a default font and used frequently.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It’s actually one of the less readable of the basic fonts. Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica are better choices for legibility, especially if your readers might include people with vision impairments or poor vision. Serif fonts in general are slightly harder to read than sans serif fonts.

        I have no strong feelings about fonts, but as a web administrator, I understand that TNR is not the best font to use.

  4. BRR*

    When I saw this article I thought it was one of the dumbest things I have ever read. It’s like when people say if you’re sick, depending on what type of doctor you see you’ll get their specialty as a diagnosis (although I don’t think that’s necessarily true either). If you ask typographers if font maters on a resume they’re going to say yes. I can’t even imagine analyzing a candidates font choice down to the type.

    1. Windchime*

      Yeah, me too. I’m starting to see why job hunters analyze every little thing, looking for signs. Because they know that hiring managers are inspecting every tiny detail, right down to the serifs (or lack thereof!) on their fonts.

    2. Kelly O*


      This is the kind of thing that makes people overthink their fonts, or what color blouse they wear to an interview, or if wearing off-white pearls somehow makes them seem like country bumpkins (conversely, are their pearls too white, and therefore perceived as fake, which means the interviewer thinks you are cheap and oh god I’m never going to work again because my pearls are the wrong color!!) <– okay that last bit was how my mind works. I can go from "is this an okay color?" to "Let me call Sears Appliance Center and see if I can get a deal on cardboard boxes for my place down by the river" in about half a second flat.

      1. Chinook*

        “wearing off-white pearls somehow makes them seem like country bumpkins (conversely, are their pearls too white, and therefore perceived as fake, which means the interviewer thinks you are cheap and oh god I’m never going to work again because my pearls are the wrong color!!)”

        People judge you based on the colour of your pearls?!?!? OMG – what must they think when they see my purplish-grey ones then? Rebel with an unhealthy penchant for dying things?

        1. EvaR*

          This is one of those things people do when they are in a stressful situation with a lot of variables they can’t control. Our brains are set up that way. Like for awhile I had a lucky interview shirt. Because really needing a job can make you a little bit crazy.

  5. Amber Rose*

    Ha! I saw that article and came to exactly the same conclusion: the only people who care are super into typography. Unless that’s the field you want a job in, TNR or Arial or anything that isn’t silly/hard to read like Wingdings is fine.

    1. Observer*

      One of my rules is that anything with a name that’s attention grabbing is probably not a good idea. The name “scream” in my head, and lo and behold, it’s a real font. My other two “rules” are: Stay away from handwriting fonts. Stay away from drips, holes and curlicues.

      Those are all things that get in your face.

  6. Dasha*

    Thank you- I hated this article!! Times New Roman is an older font but it is by no means unprofessional.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Personally I don’t care for Times New Roman, but at worst I think it old fashioned and boring which in no way means unprofessional.

      I like Arial and Calibri so I have a preference for rounded letters. I am also not a font geek, but I notice fonts especially mismatched fonts in documents and powerpoints. Seriously how do people not see that immediately.

      1. Snowglobe*

        I hate Arial and Calibri. I object to any font in which a capital I and lower case l are indistinguishable.

        1. Anomanom*

          I’ve always known I disliked them, but used them out of habit. Reading your comment was the lightbulb, that’s why I don’t like them! Now I just need to find a still reader friendly font I like that understands that I and l are different letters!

        2. blackcat*

          As a teacher, my problem with Arial was that it takes up more space than fonts like TNR. Many students would default to that to make their papers look longer. They did this despite the fact that I always gave *word count* ranges and asked for digital versions. I asked one perpetual Ariel + 1.33in margins kid about it, and they said it worked in basically all their classes.

          For this reason, I have a distaste for Arial. I have no other problems with it.

          1. Meg Murry*

            At least they weren’t using Courier New – the fastest way to double the length of your paper was to switch to that font. It looked ridiculously tacky, but it made you hit the minimum page requirement. More subtle tricks were like what you mentioned – bump font to Arial, maybe to 1.1 inch margins and 12.5 point font and you could grow your 8.5 page paper to 9 pages plus 2 lines to call it 10.

            I went to college when we still turned in papers actually printed out – very few classes had us turn in electronically. Probably because half of my classmates would have turned in their work in LaTeX or some propriatary format for their flavor of Linux/Unix – but that’s a discussion for a different day.

      2. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

        Mixed fonts is a pet peeve of mine too. But, to be fair, Word (and even some other programs) can get all wonkey when you go changing the formatting around. I have had a few times when I select all the text and make it the same font, but then if I copy it into an email it’s multiple fonts. Or if I save and open it on another person’s computer, it shows the fonts differently. Not much a person can do about that if they are giving a presentation from a device that isn’t their own.

        This is why I always try to send my resume’s in PDF format. I have a little mini-heart attack whenever I am forced to send it in word becuase I’m nearly positive the formatting won’t look the same. Actually, this could be part of why people are using Times New Roman…it can be viewed on every device and probably won’t get screwed up.

        1. CAsey*

          You can embed the font in most MS office products so it’s protected from changing regardless of device.

          1. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

            Wha? I had no idea. I’m going to learn how to do that right now. Thanks for the tip.

        2. Meg Murry*

          Yes – I switched to TNR after having a resume formatted in something nicer looking but that wasn’t 100% standard, and after seeing it gobble-de-gooked on a few computers I threw it out and went for TNR – I would rather have boring but what I expect than chance maybe nice looking or maybe messed up alignment and one-two random lines winding up on the next page.

      3. Chinook*

        “but I notice fonts especially mismatched fonts in documents and powerpoints.”

        You are not alone. Mismatched fonts make my eye twitch. If someone asks me to edit a document for content and I spot mismatched fonts, I force them all to be the same without telling the writer.

  7. Oryx*

    Not only all of the above, but depending on the version of Office or similar that you are using versus the version the person getting your resume is using, the “exciting” and “attention grabbing” fonts may not format correctly and end up looking all kinds of wonky if you send it as a Word document.

    1. Adam*

      +1 To the practice of ALWAYS making your resume a PDF file before you send it out. A friend recently asked me to help her with her resume and she sent it to me in word. I opened it on my Macbook and it turns out she’d placed her name in a stylish blue banner across the top. When I opened the doc on my laptop it went crazy and made her entire resume blue and illegible to the point where I was looking at just a giant blue rectangle.

      “Well there’s problem #1” I thought.

      1. Sans*

        Sometimes it’s better not to have your resume as an attachment, though. I guess it depends on what the employer asks for. I always keep it a conservative font and a plain design, so it doesn’t format weirdly. I’m in marketing and deal with fonts everyday. But it would never occur to me to care what font someone uses on a resume, unless it’s a novelty font.

        1. Adam*

          Naturally, I read the job posting to see if they want applications submitted a specific way, but in my experience attaching it is the way to go the majority of the time. About the only time it gets tricky for me is when they want me to paste my resume into a web-form in which case having a plain text version is probably the best, but I’m starting to not bother with too many of those since the rate of response is pretty minor in my case.

        2. hayling*

          Unless specifically requested, your resume does not belong in the body of an email.

        3. fposte*

          Wow, I’ve never heard of somebody needing the resume in the body of the email. As a hirer, I can’t imagine why I’d want that. Maybe somebody is hiring on a dial-up and can’t download attachments?

    2. jag*

      You’re setting up a straw man.

      The article in question, and most people knowledgeable about design, are not saying “use an attention-grabbing” or “exciting” font. They’re saying use a professional looking font that is not TNR.

      1. A Cita*

        Well, unless you’re using a font that the other receiver doesn’t have. And that can happen quite easily, even when sticking to system fonts, because of differences in system fonts developed for Windows machines and fonts developed for Macs (and triply so if you have Adobe fonts installed and think they are system fonts). I’m assuming this is what Oryx is saying, even without buying a font, scrolling through your current list of fonts and choosing something different may end up in problems with display for others.

    1. Adam*

      Emojis, never. But I did make a tiny typed Triforce once at the very end of my cover letter.


      It was exactly that size. I was applying for a job at Nintendo (which was what six year old me wanted to be when I grew up), so I thought it be a cool but not kitschy touch.

      1. Adam*

        And the lines were actually centered in my final version, as opposed to cheeky comment boxes. :P

    2. Karowen*

      Seriously! That was my initial reaction – Who in their right mind says “No, Times New Roman isn’t good – but emojis, totally!”

    3. Anonsie*

      That was the thing that pushed me over the edge. Some people hate Times? Join the club, whatever, not an offensive perspective.

      Use emoticons in your resume, maybe that’s cool? Guys…

      1. AW*

        There’s no way that last bit in the article isn’t sarcasm. It has to be sarcasm.

        Please be sarcasm.

    4. Holly Olly Oxen Free*

      I don’t even think they addressed emoji’s in the article, so why did they bring it up at all?

  8. Just Another Techie*

    I notice typefaces on resumes, but that’s because typography is a hobby of mine when I’m not at work *wry smile* As far as I ‘m aware, I assign no value to the typeface though, unless it’s egregiously bad (don’t use Broadway on your resume, no really, that happened once) or unless the resume uses Computer Modern, which is something of a shibboleth in my industry.

    1. Ama*

      Yeah, I’m super interested in typography but context matters. Times New Roman is a standard, legible font, so it works just fine for a resume.

      Now, the time I took over the printing of invitations for a very fancy donor event and discovered the previous year’s invitation had been printed in Papyrus…. that was a different story.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        Exactly. And since I don’t review resumes for design positions, TNR says “I have enough common sense & self-awareness to know I am not a graphic designer and to stick with a standard face for professional communication.” That’s a *good* thing!

      2. Thomas W*

        Same here. I take note when I see fonts I really like. Though I work in a creative field, good typography is not part of the jobs I hire for. But it’s just one of a hundred tiny little things that can help someone stand out to me. And it would never be a dealbreaker to use a perfectly appropriate, if boring, font.

      3. Anonsie*

        I’ve been invited to a lot of weddings in the last year and more than one invitation or save the date has been in Papyrus. I want to be like, guys, whatever vendor you paid out the nose for to design and print these… Please fire them.

      4. Kelly O*

        Can we just burn Papyrus along with Comic Sans? That would save me a LOT of time.

        1. Tara*

          Hah. In grade 6, we were asked to write a 300 word “essay” about a French-speaking country. I turned in 2,000 words with sections on history, language, culture, and religious (with an APA-style bibliography)… written entirely in Papyrus. With French script for the headings, of course. I found it the other day and just about died laughing.

    2. Stephanie*

      Ah! That’s what it’s called. It was the Math Class Font for me. Every math class I had in college, the assignments and exams were all in that font.

    3. themmases*

      I like typography too so I definitely notice. A big part of my old job used to be proofing people’s slides before they gave presentations, and I actually find it really hard to do until I can fix the formatting and design. And while I don’t hold TNR against people, I definitely dislike that font and think, “OK, so we’re not dealing with a very visual person” when I see it. That’s fine! I can keep being the visual person (not a high bar to clear in my area of work).

      But it was the default in MS Word (and the required font by lots of my instructors) for so long that it looks like the design choice of someone who’s been admonished not to make any design choices. I’d have the same reaction to receiving something double-spaced, I think.

    4. QA grump 42*

      Wait, is Computer Modern good or bad? I use it because it’s the default, but I know a number of people hate it.

    1. Tax Nerd*

      I like Times New Roman, too. It’s easy to read, and looks professional without looking like it’s trying too hard. Occasionally I’ll get asked for a Word version of my resume instead of a PDF, and I don’t have to worry that the recipient doesn’t have it. And in my field, erring on the conservative side of things is usually preferred.

      (I dislike sans serif fonts, and/or any font where a capital I and a lower case L look the same. Especially if I have to read a tax code or legal citation.)

    2. TootsNYC*

      Me too! I actually like it. It’s clear, the spacing is nice.
      I think it’s visually more pleasing than a lot of the other serif faces I could use.
      I try them all out, and then I come back to Times New Roman. So, I *do* put thought into the type selection!

      I will admit to indulging my “everybody’s a designer!” urges and using a sans serif font for headers or lead-ins. In my industry and profession, that’s hopefully a good thing, because we use those things on our pages, and I’m the person who’d need to know how to apply that.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      This feels a bit like that “I’m a Mac” and “I’m a PC” ad series that Apple did a while back. Instead of being drawn to the shiny! new! thing!, everyone just ended up sympathizing with the nice-but-boring PC. I’m a Mac user when I have a choice, and I was rooting for the PC 100%…

  9. LBK*

    “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” says Hoff.

    On what planet do hiring managers care whether you put thought into the typeface selected? Other than Design World. This is just nonsensical.

    1. Meg Murry*

      I was coming to say the same thing. In other words “you didn’t waste a lot of time on unimportant details like picking the perfect font, you used one you knew would look right on 99% of computers and you moved on”

      I used to have my resume in a “fancier” font, with everything block aligned and all kinds of other visual things that looked great at first glance. But it was actually really not easy to skim (it wound up being a very dense block of text with small margins), and it took forever to edit and not have Word mess up all the formatting – and forget about importing into online job search software. I’d been updating the same document since college, so I finally scrapped it all and started from a fresh, blank word document – and I just used Times New Roman.

      Which is the more important thing to convey? This person has a really pretty looking resume? Or this person has really impressive content in their resume? It’s not always the case, but I’ve found that the resumes that are prettiest to look at are often far less impressive content wise.

      If you are interviewing for a design job, or something where you have to do layouts and make pretty documents – yes, spend some time on the font choice. But otherwise, TNR is just fine.

      And WTF, I really hope that emojis section was supposed to be sarcastic. Because if not, there are way bigger problems than the use of TNR …

    2. Amber Rose*

      I’m actually ok with telegraphing that I put no thought into my font. One, because I never have. And two, because while I am detail oriented, I leave that for important details.

    3. jag*

      I work a lot in design, can spot a lot of common typefaces, have my resume in a very clear typeface that very few people use, etc etc.

      And except for a design position, I’d never look down on someone for using Times New Roman for their resume. And frankly, it’s possible to have a resume look good with TNR and look terrible with a better-looking typeface.

      That said, I’ll add one thing – picking a good typeface for personal use on the resume and cover letter isn’t wasted time. You choose it once and you stick with it. Spend an hour or so on it and the benefit will stick. Use it for everything. That’s it. It’s not like every time you write a letter or update your resume you have to think about it.

      1. Karowen*

        This is how I am – I am on the writing side of marketing, and I try to be sensitive to what the fonts convey. But again, I chose two (one header, one body) and left it at that. I feel like it makes things like my portfolio seem more polished to have it in the same font as the rest of my materials, because I obviously spent the few seconds it took to change it to the same font.

      2. LBK*

        Can you elaborate on this? I don’t understand what quantifies a good typeface for a resume or cover letter and/or what benefit there is to it that would stick. I also can’t imagine how you’d spend an hour trying to choose it; I doubt most people even have an hour’s worth of fonts to try on their computer without downloading more.

        1. jag*

          “I also can’t imagine how you’d spend an hour trying to choose it; ”

          The simplest way:

          1. You look through font options on your computer that seem professional and clear and pick a handful – at least three and no more than six or eight. Almost every modern computer will have that. But that’s not where the hour comes from.
          2. You set up sample documents – say a letter and a section of your resume, and perhaps even a report cover or presentation slide – and create versions of them in the fonts you selected. You should perhaps play a bit with the font-sizing, or even test some in slightly different sizes – say 10.5 and 11pts for fonts that look “big” and 12 and 13pt for fonts that tend to look small.
          3. You create PDFs of each and compare them onscreen and in print. You’re looking for clarity, professionalism and economy space usage.
          4. Pick your choice. Make it the default in all systems on your computer that produce output for print/PDF.

          1. LBK*

            I guess I don’t understand why you’d bother doing all of this. The crux of this entire discussion is to say that as long as your resume can be read and understood, the formatting is more or less irrelevant.

            1. jag*

              “the formatting is more or less irrelevant.”

              Irrelevant is a strong word, even when preceded by “more or less.”

              But more generally, appearance matters. It doesn’t matter enough that it should get in the way of content or that people should be judged just on that, but if you can improve the appearance (and consistency) of everything you do with a small investment of time, I think you should do it. Businesses do it. I know writers who do it and musicians who do it. I even did it in grad school – made one template for all papers. Designers do it. Many people do it when making presentations. If you have time, do it. If you don’t, well don’t.

              I’ll add that we’re interviewing several people where I work and a couple had resumes that look like crap. But they’re good people overall, so clearly won’t rule them out. But why look like crap when they can look good with a small investment of time?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But it’s not a choice between looking like crap or not. Of course your resume shouldn’t have crappy formatting. It’s about recognizing what does and doesn’t matter and where an investment stops paying off. A resume needs to look clean, neat, and professional, and be easy to scan. That’s really it.

                Hiring managers who care about hiring the person who will be best at the work of the job (and they’re the ones who you should want to work for) aren’t going to be influenced by which font you used, as long as your resume meets the standard I described above.

                If you want to put an extra hour into playing with fonts, go for it — I’m not going to tell you not to. But I am going to tell you that it doesn’t really matter, so that time is about doing something that’s satisfying to you, not about making your resume stronger.

                1. jag*

                  Your argument is along the same lines as saying “Wear a suit to interviews, but the fit doesn’t matter as long as it’s not really terrible.” But should we tell people, don’t do anything about your suit’s fit as long as it’s not really terrible?

                  And believe me, I’m not suggesting spending an extra hour on every application like this. But doing it once, with care, the same way you pay attention to your clothes when you actually first get them, seems entirely appropriate. It’s not disqualifying if you don’t, but frankly, I can’t understand why people would not do that. Or at least if they can. If someone doesn’t trust their own judgement, that’s fine too, so I guess leave the defaults, the same way we’d get a salesperson or a tailor to help us make sure our clothes fit right.

                  PS – we’re discussing two hires at my job right now. In a team debrief after we interviewed a couple people Someone pointed out really inconsistent formatting in one applicant’s materials (not me, but I noticed it). The application is otherwise good and that person is moving on in the process. If the applicant was actually aware of the problem, would it be a waste to fix it? After all, the content is the same. I’d certainly fix it if I did that.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  But using Times New Roman is not at all like wearing an ill-fitting suit. It’s a perfectly acceptable business font. There’s a set of perfectly acceptable business fonts; using any of them meets the bar you need to meet for resume presentation. If you want to tinker beyond that, go for it — but it’s not going to impact how strong your resume is.

  10. JM in England*

    I agree with Katherine in that substance trumps style every time. As an aside, I use Arial for my resume and have had no complaints to date. Also, at a previous workplace the document writing guide stated that this font was mandatory……………..

    1. jag*

      What about substance plus style?

      They’re not opposites – they’re complements.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But you need to recognize where style matters and where it doesn’t. For most jobs, the font you use on your resume matters about as much as what brand of shoes you pick — which is not at all, as long as you look basically polished and professional.

    2. Chinook*

      “Also, at a previous workplace the document writing guide stated that this font was mandatory……………..”

      Having worked at a place with a style guide with mandatory fonts, I have to say it was great as the AA because it meant documents didn’t require fiddling with to be made useable by others.

      Then again, they had also invested the time to create a Word add-on that automatically chose styles, templates, etc. that fit the style guide. as someone who had to format contracts, invocies and audit reports, it saved me so much time and frustration because I could strip an “ugly” document and apply the correct styles to the correction sections and everything worked (including auto table of contents and auto page numbering).

  11. Eric*

    I got into a discussion about this with someone on Facebook, who agreed with the article. As someone else pointed out “I’m glad there are some hiring managers who care, it makes less competition for the good candidates”.
    I will say you should limit the number of fonts you use in the resume. No more than 1 for headings and 1 for text.

  12. Sunflower*

    I was wondering if you were going to tackle this article! I think I originally read it on Forbes and thankfully the majority of the comments were people, many of them hiring managers, completely appalled. Many along the lines of ‘if I found out HR was tossing resumes due to font, I’d have them tossed out of their job’

    And the guy who said ‘its the equivalent to wearing sweat pants to an interview’ WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF??

  13. Renegade Rose*

    Oh darn… and here I just changed my resume to Wingdings based on this article. Do you think that will help me get hired? ;)

    1. Helena*

      Just make sure you follow up with the hiring manager every day about your application.

    2. Gecko*

      Send them a shoe with a note in wingdings saying that you just want to get a foot in the door.

  14. jhhj*

    Obviously you don’t use boring old TNR or Arial in your CV, you use the exciting new font called PAPYRUS SANS.

    I have received so much business correspondence in Comic Sans. From big multinationals.

    1. Macedon*

      I am so glad we share an aesthetic of horror.

      Long may Comic Sans Papyrus live and prosper (in collective nightmares).

        1. Macedon*

          I think we may have been too blinded by its… merits… to memorise its actual name, our bad.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          Oh, this is great!

          I use Comic Sans when I’m having a hard time editing a document. I change the whole thing into CS, and am only allowed to change it back to Georgia or another sensible font one paragraph at a time, after I’ve edited that paragraph. It’s good motivation. I might have to reserve Comic Papyrus for the occasional truly gnarly word salad that crosses my desk…

    2. Kelly L.*

      A few years ago, I had a pet pass away, and you would not believe how many sites about pet death are in Comic Sans. Yup, that’s just what I want to see when I’m sad–Comic f’in Sans.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that kind of thing was rampant in the old Geocities pages. Sparkles and rainbows and pink and Comic Sans for your pet mourning.

    3. Anony-moose*

      I work in Development and oversee creating a lot of collateral, from brochures to events. I was working for a former boss once, who I absolutely adored, and when we sat down to brainstorm our gala, the first words out of her mouth were “I think we should have a really fun font. Like, you know, Comic Sans.”

      I just about died trying not to laugh out loud.

      1. Ama*

        A few years ago, I worked at a large university and discovered the Office of Legal Counsel was using Comic Sans on their *entire* webpage. Because nothing says “legal counsel” like Comic Sans, I guess?

        1. Anony-moose*

          Hah, maybe my boss could have created their gala invitations! If you are going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a seat at a table, why not make sure it is FUN? And nothing says fun like Comic Sans!

          1. LQ*

            There was actually a study about dyslexia and fonts, the shape of the letters makes it easier to read and comic sans wasn’t included in that but there is a decent amount of anecdote to say that it is better than some others. (That said there are specific fonts for dyslexia now.)
            (A google for comic sans and dyslexia turns up some interesting results.)

      2. jag*

        But when someone says something like that, you have to push back in a productive way. Not by laughing or just saying “No” but by going deeper. What are they looking for? Something more friendly and less serious? There are good-looking typefaces that can do that (Vag Rounded comes to mind).

      1. DMented Kitty*

        Chiller will go great if you’re applying for a hit job. Curlz MT for clown academy, perhaps?

  15. AnonyMiss*

    Personally, I use Century Schoolbook, but it’s for a well-reasoned intent. I’m in law. The US Supreme Court requires by its rules of decorum to submit all papers (and prints all of its opinion) in 12-point Century Schoolbook. Even if you don’t consciously recognize it, Century Schoolbook typeface reminds you of law books, and strikes a note with lawyers. It’s lawyers who hire me, so I’ll use that touch of subconscious advantage.

    1. Mpls*

      What if these lawyers doing the hiring really hated their Con Law class and have a bad, Pavlovian response to seeing anything that subconsciously reminds them of Scalia dissents?

      Also, I really think you are over-thinking this.

      1. Adam*

        I didn’t know what CSB looked like so I just checked and it looks resume acceptable. I doubt it would be a deciding factor in any case, but if it’s such a prevailing type in the field it might help the lawyering types get more comfortable with her resume right away for that initial read-through. Couldn’t hurt. *shrugs*

        1. Mpls*

          Oh, I agree that it is a relatively inoffensive font, and more power to whoever wants to use it. I just don’t think the StC connection is going to come across for most lawyers.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      A lot of funding agencies require either TNR or Arial for grant proposals. I’m not a true fonts nerd, but it would be nice to have options sometimes! I use Georgia any time I have a free choice.

      1. jag*

        Georgia is not a good typeface for print or even PDFs- it’s was designed for use on screen use such as in web pages and it’s proportions are clunky in print. It’s also very big at any given point size.

      2. fposte*

        I get why they do it, though, and I require a font for journal material. I wish I could require a font for student papers.

    3. Koko*

      I had a fondness for Century Gothic most of my teenage years because I love its question mark – it’s like a little backwards with a dot beneath it, instead of a hook. I prefer rounded lettering so the Century Gothic question mark wins my heart.

      I don’t use it for professional documents as an adult, however.

      1. fposte*

        And my favorite single character is the Garamond Italic ampersand. It is just a beautiful little sculpture.

  16. SanguineAspect*

    I saw this article too and while I don’t agree that Times New Roman is “lazy,” I DO believe that sans-serif fonts are more web-friendly and readable, and therefore more appropriate for a resume. Most hiring managers are reading a resume for the first time on a screen, rather than in print. But in no way am I going to turn down an otherwise perfectly good candidate because of his serifs.

    1. Oryx*

      For a long time I had no idea why I had such a strong dislike for certain fonts, TNR included.

      Than I discovered the difference between serif and sans serif fonts and things made so much more sense.

        1. fposte*

          Another serif supporter here. Serif fonts have more of a voice; sans serifs are either baby talk for emergent readers or computer-generated voice emulation.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            Way back in 1986, researchers did a study on how fonts affect comprehension. Only 12 percent of participants effectively comprehended the text written in a sans-serif font, while 67 percent comprehended the text written in a serif font (I can’t find a link to the actual study, but it’s mentioned in “Cashvertising”).

            Now, this was for print, of course. I see SanguineAspect’s point about Web readability, but I don’t think sans-serif fonts are necessarily easier to read on a screen.

            1. Anonsie*

              I don’t think sans-serif fonts are necessarily easier to read on a screen.

              That’s the traditional wisdom, but it’s not an absolute. Out of curiosity I opened some tabs of sites with a variety of fonts for their article body text and it really depends on the size and spacing. The USNews posts Alison often links to, for example, is sans but it does tend to blur together for me. I think it’s because the font (what is that, Arial?) is too large.

            2. A Cita*

              Correct. For bigger blocks of text, think paragraphs or books, serifed fonts are more easily read and comprehended.

              I actually thought it was interesting that they recommended Garamond. It’s a lovely font, one of my personal favorites, but it is for classic literature and historical monographs.

            3. NutellaNutterson*

              I’m a highly visual person, I love typefaces (the Helvetica documentary is excellent!) yet I have some odd dyslexic-esque reaction to unusually formed letters. It’s most noticeable on marquees or store signs – I literally cannot discern what word the letters are forming.

              It drives me batty, because reading a shop name is rather important when trying to find one’s destination.

    2. Anonsie*

      I was wondering why this didn’t come up before. I don’t use Times in my resume because it’s always digital now and sans-serif fonts tend to be easier to read on a screen. Tend to, this isn’t a solid rule obviously, but I think a clean sans font serves to make a resume a lot clearer to scan and less cluttered/more clean overall. But that’s mostly personal preference.

  17. Sunshine*

    What a ridiculous article. If I got a resume with emojis on it, I’d throw it right in the trash. I’m looking to hire grown ups.

    1. jhhj*

      Smiling poop emoji to you too. Don’t you want fun adults who have no sense of professionalism?

      1. A Cita*

        Yes. I’m surprised folks didn’t get that–font snobs* recommending emojis. :)

        *total disclosure: I <3 typography

  18. HigherEd Admin*

    Personally, I’m much more offended by Calibri than I am by TNR.

    And then I realize how silly it is to be offended by font choice so I move on.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        I don’t know how to describe it. It looks a little… unpolished, maybe?

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I agree about the unpolished aspect. But it works. It’s basic and legible and readable on a screen.

          1. A. D. Kay*

            Calibri is one of the Microsoft ClearType fonts that are designed to be readable on LCD monitors. There are a group of them, all beginning with the letter C: Calibri, Cambria, Consolas, Corbel and Constantia.

        2. Snork Maiden*

          Calibri has the rounded ends and its shape/proportions are casual and informal, so I find it a bit jarring in professional contexts. (Several businesses here use it in their logo, eep.)

          It’s also the default font for some versions of Word, so sometimes I wonder (if other clues are present) how comfortable they are with Word.

          1. Snork Maiden*

            But I should add, I would not toss someone’s resume based on whether they used Calibri. I just raise an eyebrow and move on. I used to use it for all my professional communication; now I prefer Open Sans, Myriad, and Caslon.

          2. Amtelope*

            I hate Calibri, and have to wonder who decided that all future users of Word were just dying to write their documents in Calibri 11 point. I can and do change the default, but … Calibri 11 point, really? That feels like a design choice imposed by someone who likes design and fonts and thought it looked good, rather than a default chosen to reflect what the majority of users actually use for business communication in non-design fields.

              1. Anx*

                I have been using an old version of Word for years, and this semester I started using the computers at school to get more comfortable with Windows Word and a newer word. I thought for sure some student screwed up the templates until I noticed all the computers on campus were trying to get me write in single spaced documents with 8 points between the lines. I cannot believe this is the default.

              2. University admin*

                The default is actually a single-space setting, but with a separation between “paragraphs of the same style.” When someone hits Enter to go to the next line, word thinks you are starting a new section. For normal single-spaced returns, you’re supposed to hit Shift+enter.

                That being said, I always just change the setting. :) Just thought I was smart for figuring it out!

        3. Dynamic Beige*

          I hate Calibri. I hate the tracking on it, IMO there’s not enough space in a space character to separate the words, or too much between the letters. Drives me crazy. It’s like someone was trying to make a more professional looking version of Comic Sans.

          It is not silly to be offended by font choice! TNR is perfectly acceptable if not particularly inspired, at least it’s legible which is the most important thing when it comes to a résumé. I’d rather read pages of that than ones done in Hobo like that My Little Pony themed résumé that was discussed a few weeks back. *shudders*

            1. NutellaNutterson*

              Ditto! Can someone link to that? Ideally a scan of an anonymized version? I want very much to see this.

      2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        Something about Calibri (to me) says “1980s computer with no other font choices). I don’t know if that’s an accurate reaction (having never used a computer that old). I also resent that it is the default choice and I can’t seem to get word to accept that particular change to the default settings.

        1. jag*

          “I don’t know if that’s an accurate reaction (having never used a computer that old)”

          It’s not. Calibri is far more sophisticated than what was available then, and quite different.

    1. Jenna Maroney*

      I have a kneejerk hate for Calibri because it’s the default in certain versions of Microsoft Word so I associate it with frustration and mind-boggling user-unfriendliness. But I wouldn’t hold it against anyone.

    2. katamia*

      Calibri is the only font I really can’t stand. Fine with TNR, even fine with Comic Sans, but Calibri? Ugh.

    3. themmases*

      Interesting! I’ve been looking back and forth at my CV as I read this thread and noticed today that it is in Calibri, but I have no idea why. I’m 80% sure the design template I started from years ago was not in Calibri. Certain headings in my CV are in caps, too, which looks really incongruous in Calibri since it’s such a rounded font. Maybe next time I’m bored I’ll change it, since it’s clearly not just me!

      I actually like Calibri for day to day writing though. I was very happy when the MS defaults changed to Calibri and Cambria because Arial and TNR just look a little… sad, I guess, to me. Like wilted lettuce on the page. The two fonts strike me as similar but still kind of fresh looking after so many years of the old defaults.

    4. kozinskey*

      I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who dislikes Calibri. To me, that seems lazier than TNR these days, since it’s the Word default. That being said, I love TNR and use it for pretty much everything, so I am definitely biased =)

    5. Dr. Doll*

      Chuckle. And here I am, another higher ed administrator, who uses Calibri exclusively!

      1. Susan*

        I heart Calibri! I think it looks fresh and modern. It’s also very easy to read. I don’t get all the Calibri backlash :(

  19. Kathryn T.*

    Things that make a difference on a resume:

    * Presenting it on YouTube as an interpretive dance
    * Including a line under “other accomplishments” stating “Birthed four children vaginally with no anaesthetic”
    * Translating it using an Enigma-style cypher, and “getting the hiring manager’s attention” by having black-clad operatives break into her office at night and leave the decoder ring on her desk

    Things that do not make a difference on a resume:

    * Using a boring but bog-standard font

    1. Artemesia*

      I birthed two children vaginally without anesthetic. Of course I always lead with that on the resume.

      1. Kathryn T.*

        Sadly that is the only item on the list I’ve actually seen in the wild. For a corporate legal position,

        1. Anonylicious*

          Well, of course you wouldn’t have seen the black-clad operatives. That’s the whole point of having them wear black! (And you have *no* idea how much of your average secret spy organization’s budget goes to lint rollers.)

      2. Tomato Frog*

        Just two? Like GPAs, that’s really something you should only include if it’s 3 or above.

  20. HigherEdManager*

    Good grief. Thank you. This annoyed the crap out of me the moment I heard it on NPR!

  21. Allison*

    It took me a moment to realize that TNR is the default font for Word, maybe that’s why it’s considered lazy? People don’t leave it that way because they d0n’t feel like picking a different one, they leave it that way because it doesn’t occur to anyone that there’s any reason to change it.

    1. jhhj*

      The new default font is Calibri (not particularly attractive but not offensive). They also keep changing the default line spacing and paragraph spacing and are making it more and more of a pain to change back.

      1. HigherEd Admin*

        Ugh, yes! I hate the default paragraph spacing. If I wanted a buffer between lines, I’d set it up that way. I just want things single-spaced! The first thing I do anytime I get a new computer/version of Word is to reset all the defaults to my particular aesthetic.

        1. Meg Murry*

          If you are using Microsoft Word 2010, you can change the “style” to Word 2003, and it goes back to single spacing, 12 point font, instead of 1.15 spacing 11 pt font.

          I wonder if this is like the “musical taste stops changing at 33” argument – your preference to document styles is strongly correlated to what the default was in the word processing software you used at your first professional job.

          I’m working at a new company and some of their “style guides” for report writing were designed for a typewriter, I’m pretty sure, and it drives me batty to have to spend a ton of time re-formatting my reports into their “style” – or, even worse, sitting and watching the guy who isn’t all that comfortable with computers slowly reformatting it while grumbling at me.

          1. jhhj*

            My first professional job used emacs, which I am happy never to have to use again.

            I don’t care about 11 or 12 pt font that much, but who actually wants 1.15 spacing?

        2. kozinskey*

          Same! I have no idea where the idea for 1.15 spacing with paragraph breaks came from, but I find it incredibly annoying.

      2. katamia*

        Ugh, yes. I don’t know why they did that, but every time I’m using a computer that isn’t mine I have to change that right away (along with ditching smart quotes and a few other things) or else I just can’t work. I associate Calibri with all the things I hate about Word 2007 and above. Can’t stand it.

        1. kozinskey*

          And the automatic tab stops! Don’t forget those on the list of annoying Word features.

    2. Editrix*

      Exactly, I think using TNR used to raise suspicions that the applicant didn’t know how to change the font of a document. Which is something I always wonder when I receive documents in Calibri.

  22. Madtown Maven*

    I just want job applicants to use the same font both their cover letter and resume, and understand that resumes should never be four pages long . . .

    1. Allison*

      But Madtown, if someone can’t list every single professional accomplishment and every skill they’ve ever gained, how on Earth will they disguise the fact that they’re not actually qualified for the jobs they’re applying to??

  23. C Average*

    Font snobs are some of the most tedious individuals on earth. If using TNR functions as an effective screening device for font snobs, I’m dropping everything and reformatting my resume RIGHT NOW.

    (Sorry, AAM font snobs. Maybe you’re fun. I’m basing my opinion on the font snobs I’ve actually met, not the ones I haven’t met.)

  24. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    So many of the basic, unflashy fonts look the same to me. Obviously I can tell when someone is using Old English or wingdings, but when a friend changed my resume font to Garamond because it looked “more professional” I thought “but it just looks the same to me??”

    And since I can’t get my copy of word to accept TNR as my default font, the laziness factor mentioned in the article isn’t even relevant (die, Calibri, die!)

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      The default Office Theme when you open Word or PowerPoint features Calibri. Change your theme, remove the font!

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        I admittedly haven’t tried it on my new personal computer, but with my last edition of word I had great success tweaking every default setting to my whims EXCEPT font style and size! It reset that one thing every time I opened a new document!

      1. Betty (the other Betty)*

        Ha ha, very funny. I put in “rockstar” and “ninja” and it bs’d both. Lots of ads out there for “design rockstar” and “coding ninja.”

  25. KarenT*

    This is funny to me. I work in publishing–basically industry composed of people who are passionate about fonts–and seriously, no one cares. We always notice, and someone always makes a comment because we love fonts, but you can’t please everyone and no half-way reasonable person would use this as hiring criteria.
    I probably have a subconscious bias to those who use Garamond because I love it so (I kid), but I’ve hired people who use TNR or Arial. I’d be nuts if I didn’t.

  26. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    Also, given that some fonts are more dyslexic-friendly than others, I feel like it’s really snobby to judge someone as long as they are using a legible, non-comic sansy font (and I don’t even hate comic sans, but some fonts do scream “children’s birthday party!” and not professional document… though I did file an annual report written in all comic sans once…)

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        There is a middle ground though, correct? I’m not visually impaired but I’ve spent a lot of time discussing how to implement accessibility initiatives in regards to libraries/archives and the font issue does come up. And honestly, I would definitely make some font snobs look at comic sans than have a patron not be able to read our site because we chose TNR. So far the compromise seems to be using a sans serif font like Arial or Verdana, but again this is dyslexia focused and I’m not sure if it ends up being applicable to other visual impairments.

        1. Anx*

          Do people in charge of accessibility push to keep as much paper around as possible? Because I am finding libraries less and less helpful as more and more things are e-book or e-journal only. I’m sure it helps with accessibility for people who can’t get to a library, but I have such a hard time reading text on a screen. I would assume this is a common complaint, but I’m curious.

    1. Snowglobe*

      FYI – there is now a font called dyslexie which is specifically designed to be easier to read by dyslexics. I’m the parent of two dyslexic kids, and they both do better with it. And since approximately 10% of the population is thought to be dyslexic, it might actually be beneficial to use it in your resume.

      1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

        That is great, thanks for letting me know about this (and I will be sharing this with several other librarian types I know!)

  27. Rejis*

    As a visually impaired person: No, you should not use TNR anywhere. Not on websites, not on resumes, not in newspapers, nowhere! TNR is the worst insult to readibility ever concocted. I personally have gone so far and set up a font replacement turning it into Comic Sans.

    1. Anna*

      Comic Sans? Really? Of all the fonts you could have chosen, you chose that one? Now I’m suspicious you’re trolling.

      1. Xarcady*

        There’s some evidence that Comic Sans is easy to read for people with dyslexia, moreso than standard fonts. So there’s the possibility that for some vision issues, it would be an easier to read font.

      2. Rejis*

        Not trolling you, trolling the people who still insist on using TNR. Comic Sans is very good readable because of the line-width and the distinctive shapes of the characters.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m visually impaired too. What fonts do you find easiest to read? Arial seems to be the best for me. I get annoyed when websites that purport to be disability friendly use terrible fonts and color schemes.

      1. Tia*

        My (government) office did an in depth study on accessibility and went with Arial as being best for overall comprehension (we needed a standard format for all of our published documents).

  28. Xarcady*

    Well, this explains why I can’t get a job–my resume is in TNR!

    On a serious note, I’m an editor. I have some design experience, so I’m familiar with fonts. I cannot tell you how many people in the publishing industry that I have had to educate on fonts–serif vs. sans serif, bold, italics, good fonts for the Web, for print, you name it. Designers have no issues, but so many other people just see typed words.

    Which leads me to believe that for 98% of the population, fonts mean nothing.

    And why all the hate for TNR? It is not an exciting font, I’ll admit, but it is readable.

    1. Rejis*

      No, it definitely is not! The lines are too flimsy and the letters to close to each other. If your eyes are not as good, TNR is poison. My vision is pretty bad, but normally I can read font size 12 no problem. For TNR, it needs to be at least 18 before I can discern anything.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        I didn’t realize this. What’s a good alternative that you can read more easily?

      2. jag*

        Are you talking about on screen or in print?

        TNR is designed to be easily read in print in fairly cramped settings (such as in a newspaper, in this case the Times of London) If you compare that typeface with other common typefaces fitting X number of words in Y space, TNR performs well in comparison.

      3. jag*

        Oh, and you’re onto something about the sizing, but you’re exaggerating about the point size. TNR at 13 or 14 pts is similar to many more recent typefaces at 11 or 12 pts in terms of actual appearance and number of words that can be fit into the same space.

        If someone is capable of changing the type size, TNR can be clear.

  29. Anna*

    A friend posted the article on Facebook. My comment was “I’ll wait and see what Alison Greens says about this.” :)

  30. YandO*

    I so wish getting the right font, the right look, and the right style of bullet points would be enough to get a phone call back.

    Would not that be nice?

    Probably not, but one can dream.

  31. Anonymous Educator*

    The worst part about this is that I’m sure almost no one cared about candidates using Times New Roman until that article came out. Now there will be some new, unwarranted, self-proclaimed snobbery on the part of hiring managers who have read the article and think they’re somehow discerning about fonts, even though they know nothing about typography.

    1. A Cita*

      Well, they probably won’t recognize the font–probably can’t tell one serifed font from another. So they might spout newly acquired opinions, they won’t know which resumes to toss.

  32. Felicia*

    One time I got a resume in comic sans. Had it not been in comic sans, she may have gotten a phone screen.

  33. Brenda*

    We received a CV that was six pages long in Lucida Handwriting or some other ridiculous cursive font. It was hilarious. However, the person had decent experience and a good cover letter and so even that didn’t stop us sending it through to the hiring manager (temp recruitment). Although, we did change the font first, which had the added effect of reducing the it from six to three pages.

    So – yes, font matters and you should think about it, but no, it doesn’t matter THAT much and you shouldn’t stress about it as long as you’re using a normal font.

  34. Mark Chapman*

    One thing, unless the hiring manager has a mac (where Helvetica is a standard font) , you’ll find that the resume will default back to Times New Roman anyway as it’s likely the hevetica font you have isn’t licensed for distribution (so won’t be embedded in the doc/pdf). You won’t see this as you have it installed.

    1. A Cita*

      Also, I feel it’s worth reiterating for those who say they just save it as a PDF to prevent these problems–the PDF won’t embed the font not licensed for distribution. So even the PDF will display differently.

      1. Decimus*

        If you want your font to travel with the pdf, you need to save it as a PDF-A format, the archival format. But those save as larger files specifically because you are incorporating the font information et al into the file.

        1. A Cita*

          Yes, but some software won’t embed fonts you don’t have the legal right to distribute. (Though, I don’t know about Word since I don’t use it for my resume.)

  35. Elizabeth*

    I’m someone who DOES care about fonts in the font-nerd sense and has taken notice of it when receiving resumes before, but it’s always been the reverse of what they’re talking about in the article. When you get too fancy, I actually start to have questions about what you choose to prioritize on your resume (spoiler alert: those folks rarely had strong resumes); Times New Roman would never flag you as not caring, but Obscure Artistic Font would definitely make me wonder why you focused so much on that in comparison to other areas of your resume.

    A lot of people think they can mask a poor resume by dressing it up in fonts or graphic. You can’t, and most people don’t have the design skills to do this anyway. When it doubt, stick with fonts or formatting that is used in the default Word templates. They’re default for a reason: they’re clean and simple and you can’t usually go wrong using one as your starting base. Plain and simple will win out over flash any day of the week, in my book.

    1. themmases*

      That is pretty unfair. It doesn’t take a long time to choose a font– the most time anyone in this thread has suggested spending on it is 1 hour for a resume people will then update incrementally and continue to use for years. People apply for jobs on their own time and you really have no way of knowing what competing priorities they have or how long it takes them to do something.

      Personally I have tons of time to mess with the style of my CV (although it is pretty basic) because I am organized enough to add things to it as soon as they happen. When I’m just taking 5 minutes to add a new publication, there’s no reason I shouldn’t take a few more to decide if I’m still happy with the font. I know from previous discussions that many commenters on this site do the same thing.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Well like I said, the resumes I received where people had clearly picked out Super Awesome Fonts were ones that weren’t very strong to begin with, so I personally would have rather seen the time spent on “decorating” the resume put towards actually creating a resume with higher quality content. If you or others have strong resumes /and/ neat fonts, more power to you.

  36. simonthegrey*

    I use Verdana for a lot of my handouts and assignments for students, because I think the spacing is very readable. I use it on my resume as well, though my header with my name is in a different font (I think?). However, I like Times New Roman just fine. I’ve always used it for my default font in the past.

    1. katamia*

      I use TNR for my resume, but I love Book Antiqua. I use it a lot for other things.

      1. jag*

        Book Antique is a rip off of the typeface called Palatino. That is, it was largely a copy of Palatino with a few changes, particularly the name, to enable Microsoft to get around licensing fees. Unethical in my opinion.

        If you can, don’t use Book Antiqua – use Palatino.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I loved Palatino in college–I thought it was attractive, but even more importantly, it took up a little more space than TNR even if you set the pixel size the same, so it could boost your paper length a bit if you needed it. ;)

  37. Designerd*

    Good advice… Unless you’re in the graphic design field. Designers are typography nerds. We love it. It’s our paint.

    Even though a portfolio site shows off your skills, your resume is ALSO a sample of your work! If you’re gonna use TNR, that stuff better be kerned to perfection with just the right amount of white-space, done in InDesign (obviously!) and not in Word. I’ve seen beautifully simple resumes done with Helvetica, so I think one could intentionally and purposefully use TNR to make something worth looking at. If you’re applying at a shop with a hipster vibe (we’re creatives, after all), you could even use TNR ironiaclly. Designers are type experts… We notice that stuff. It’s our job. That is the one field where your resume does need to say a little bit about what you do, and show a little bit of what you can do. As an art director, I WANT to see what you can do. Your work experience may not show me all that you’re capable of.

    1. Sans*

      I get what you’re saying. I’m a copywriter and I’m paranoid about how my resume and cover letters are phrased … because they show my writing skills, just as my portfolio does. Funny thing, a few years ago I was laid off and given outplacement services as part of my severance. My resume was in pretty darn good shape and I knew it. But what the heck, I handed it over to the outplacement service to look at. They wanted me to add an objective and change the font to TNR (insisted, actually). It was in Garamond, so it’s not like I was using an odd font. I think they felt they had to change SOMETHING on the resume. Since they were so insistent, I quickly made another version for them. And then proceeded to use the one I already had.

      1. Designerd*

        Garamond is such a professional and refined alternative to TNR, and it works just as well… What a bunch of silly-billy goats!

  38. Windchime*

    No wonder people are paranoid about every little thing when they are job searching. It’s OK to use TNR, but it’s boring. But don’t use anything “fun” or quirky like Comic Sans, because people will think you’re not serious.

    These types of discussions sometimes remind me of the “Is this water bottle professional?” stuff that goes on over on another site. Maybe other people are more observant than I am, but if a candidate came to me with awesome qualifications but a different font, I would not reject them. I probably wouldn’t even notice unless it was some kind of gothic script.

    1. Nina*

      IA. I understand that some fonts aren’t visually pleasing, but in the scope of the resume, it seems like such a petty thing to judge. Especially since there are so many types and you have applicants not knowing which ones aren’t acceptable, except for Comic Sans. I’m not crazy about TNR either, but who cares? Qualifications and skills are more important.

  39. Red Rose*

    My resume is currently in Arial Narrow except the top part (name and contact info) which is in Verdana. Both are rather unexciting sans serif fonts. They serve the purpose but maybe it’s time to shake things up. I recently got the font Belligerent Madness. Think that would be a good choice? ;-)

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I wish a font with that name was something that was usable. All the fonts with interesting names are perhaps too erm… interesting for standard use — usually just Display (if you can even get away with that).

    2. Elizabeth*

      Just make sure that if you’re using Arial Narrow, it’s at a font size that’s reasonably readable. I’ve received a couple resumes set in Arial Narrow for the body copy and it was always so small that it made it unreadable and I passed over those people.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I never mix a serif typefaces with another serif typeface, or combine two sans serif typefaces. I work in publishing, and most of the designers I’ve worked with use a serif for the body, and sans for the “accent type.” Or, maybe, vice versa.

      I’ll have to experiment with two of the same style.

      And all these comments about Times New Roman or other serif typefaces being hard to read on screen–I’m going to have to look. I use it a lot, because I can’t have my people (or me) reading over a lower-case l / capital letter I problem. Also, sometimes lower-case vowels look too much alike.

  40. Anx*

    “When are people going to stop taking hiring advice from people who aren’t in charge of hiring? (Answer: Never, because this approach offers endless possibilities for click-bait.)”

    There’s enough conflicting information from people in charge of hiring, why add typographers to the mix (unless of course, you will be working for typographers)?

    1. Stephanie*

      Although without these click-bait articles, would Alison suffer for blog material?

  41. Alternative*

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with Times New Roman as a font. It’s professional and neat. No decent hiring manager would ever reject a candidate for using it.

    That said…it’s dated. It has not been the default on Microsoft Office software since 2007. TNR isn’t stylish at the moment. Some may associate it with people who aren’t that tech savvy, and who haven’t updated their computer programs in quite some time. I am not saying that is accurate or fair! But, I definitely thing it’s possible since TNR has an older technology vibe.

  42. AW*

    What’s funny to me is that although normally non-design people don’t care about font, a lot of people have really strong opinions about serif vs sans-serif fonts. If you ask about Arial vs Verdana or Times New Roman vs Century Schoolbook, no one cares but if you suggest that serif is easier to read than sans-serif, or vice-versa, and people are ready to fight you. People will insist that one is objectively easier to read than the other, despite many people taking the opposite position.

  43. Aunt Vixen*

    My resume is Bookman Old Style (because I lost my access to Copperplate Gothic) in the headers and TNR in the text, and I’m not especially sorry.

    I am sorry it doesn’t have more white space. There aren’t a ton of positions on it, but my major jobs have a fair few bullet points each, and every time I look at it I have a hard time deciding what to cut–which is normally because I have something to add, for a net zero saving of space. And I’m already on narrow margins and don’t have a line to spare before causing another page break. I need to fortify myself with a glass of wine one of these times and just get ruthless about the job I had ten years ago.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Or go to two pages!

      I recently did succeed in condensing my resume from two pages to one (I wish I’d seen Alison’s advice earlier, and stuck w/ two pages; it’s not like I’m a rookie!).

      What I did was leave out anything that was a predictable job task. The people I am interviewing with know what a person with my job title does as a basic; I don’t need to tell them.
      I only put down the particularly important “sales point” from that job.
      I give the size of staff, because that can differ a lot, and the fact that I’ve supervised a small staff and large staffs shows my versatility. But I don’t specify that I recruited them; I worked there 4 years, presumably I hired several people. And I can talk about that in person.
      I don’t say that I drew up the style sheet or read the proofs; everyone who has my position does that.
      I *do* say that I cut the budget; that I managed through a set of layoffs; that I supervised a transition between technologies or to a much greater frequency of publication. Those are specific skills that not everyone in position has done, and they’re specifically great strengths for me.

      So, I leave out the obvious, and focus on the big sales points.
      But really, I should have left it at 2 pages.

  44. Chickaletta*

    As a graphic designer, the problem with TNR is that it’s so common and uninteresting. It was designed for a newspaper, so it’s a typeface that can handle lots of info crammed into limited space on a really crappy substrate. That said, that may be why it’s actually a good choice for resumes. If your type is drawing attention to itself when it should be communicating the substance of what’s being said, then it’s not doing the job. Plus, if you send out your resume in an actual .doc format (instead of PDF), then TNR is a safe font where you can guarantee the recipient has it too. If you chose something fancy and they don’t have it, then you risk getting the formatting of your resume all screwed up when their computer replaces your choice of creative font with something standard.

    Any other common typeface is fine too. Helvetica, Garamond, Bookman, whatever. But, please, please do not ever think of using Comic Sans, Papyrus, Trajan, Lobster, Chalkboard, Zapfino, or anything like that on a resume or in a place of work. Why? Because the way the typeface looks communicates a message, and decorative/quirky typefaces don’t communicate professionalism or seriousness. Its like to wearing the wrong kind of clothing to work.

  45. Marshall*

    I think the original article is more geared towards those submitting their resumes in the graphic design field where the person hiring you is more than likely sensitive to things like the typeface used, the tracking, spacing, kerning, and the overall aesthetic of what they are looking at. These things are major clues to the abilities of the person they are hiring to design for their company. You are correct in that the majority of hiring managers could care less about these things, but in the applied arts, these details are foundational.

  46. Melissa*

    This article has either got to be satirical or one of the interviewees was being satirical, because their justification for not using Times New Roman was “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected” and their thoughts on emojis were “I think it’s a great idea. Put a lot of emojis on the bottom. Some chicken wings. They will love it.”

    I tried to do a search to see if that line was originally taken from an Onion article or something like that. No dice, but I have seen that it’s been reposted all over the ‘net. Yikes.

    On a related note, I hate Garamond. I find it difficult to read.

  47. HRG*

    This article made me laugh because last year my department went through a “rebranding” exercise and now all our official communications to the Agency are in Garamond. People had a fit because they felt it was too difficult to read and here in this article they’re saying it’s legible and easy to follow.. just goes to show that people have different preferences. Our most common request? To change the font back to TNR. I guess people like outdated here?

  48. HRG*

    This article made me laugh because last year my department went through a “rebranding” exercise and now all our official communications to the Agency are in Garamond. People had a fit because they felt it was too difficult to read and here in this article they’re saying it’s legible and easy to follow.. just goes to show that people have different preferences. Our most common request? To change the font back to TNR. I guess people like outdate

  49. A Reader*

    I find sans-serif fonts harder to read. TNR is totally fine. I have a hard time parsing Arial at speed. Maybe I am the opposite of dyslexic?

    1. Talvi*

      You’re not the only one. I have an intense loathing on sans serif fonts, partly because I find them slow and hard to read. (The exception is Verdana, probably because I find the internet is largely in Verdana. Verdana is fine, especially if I’m reading on a screen.) When I’m TAing a class that involves marking papers, I ask the professor to have the students submit their work in a serif font (I don’t care what font, as long as it’s got serifs!) – when I’m going to be marking 20 10-page papers in a weekend, that little bit does help.

  50. joe*

    I’m a lawyer, and use Times New Roman because it’s what lawyers use in almost all of their documents. If you would file it in court, it’s good for a resume; and almost no one files anything in court in Georgia or Garamond, no matter how pretty those fonts may be. It’s boring and no one will notice the font, and that’s why it’s right, I think. I’d be shocked if any lawyer, ever, failed to get a job in any part because their resume was in Times New Roman.

    I’d imagine it’s different if you’re trying to get a marketing job or something. So this idea in the Bloomberg article that there’s a right or wrong font for all resumes strikes me as misguided.

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