With the hundreds of computer fonts available, only a few are considered appropriate for business letters. Because the purpose of a business letter isn't to showcase your artistic skills, a standard non-decorative font is best-suited for your audience. Avoid fonts with embellishments, unique curvatures and unusual designs to ensure that a business letter is easy to read and conveys professionalism.
Sans serif is a general description that applies to many font styles, meaning without serif, which is the small decorative embellishment added to a basic letter or number. Leeward Community College states that emails and web pages are easier to read without serifs, so choose sans serif fonts for business letters sent electronically. A few specific sans serif fonts include Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Geneva, Avant Garde and Helvetica. Serif fonts are acceptable for printed business letters because the decorative additions are easily distinguished on paper. Their slightly ornate appearance makes them an appealing choice. Examples of serif fonts include Times New Roman, Rockwell, Georgia and Didot.
Times New Roman
The Times New Roman font is a top pick for printed business letters because of its ultra-conservative reputation. According to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, Times New Roman is the generally accepted font for business letters because of its readability. If you're writing to a highly conservative company that has strict guidelines, professional dress codes or conventional business practices, Times New Roman is a safe bet.
The Arial font is a standard type used by many professionals in the workplace. It's often the default for computer software programs and is one of the first font options in the Microsoft Office drop-down menu. Because Arial has straight lines and smooth curves, it has a traditional appearance that isn't too mechanical or industrial, making it a suitable font for business letters. Because of its legibility and simplicity, it's a favorite for business letters, resumes, cover letters and other forms of professional correspondence.
In the business world, the font size is just as important as the font style. If you opt for a font that's too small, the recipient of your business letter might not be able to read the words clearly without magnification. On the other hand, a large font tends to look overstated, juvenile and unprofessional. The University of California Career Development Center recommends a font size between 10 and 12 points to ensure legibility and readability.
About the Author
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
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Times New Roman might cost you your next job.
While resume font choice may seem trivial, experts say it's actually pretty important. A bad font can take the focus off the accomplishments you've listed.
"A reader may not arrive at the content if your font if too distracting," Samantha Howie, senior human resources recruiter at the New York-based Maximum Management Corp., told the Huffington Post. "The key is that we can read it with ease."
Drawing upon Howie's recruiting expertise and tips from a typeface expert, we've composed a definitive list of the best fonts to use on your resume. Spoiler alert: The days of using Times News Roman have come to an end.
For an elegant feel, Garamond is the one. "Garamond is very readable," Howie told HuffPost. "But for me, it feels a little bit old fashioned, or perhaps not as corporate."
Howie approves of this widely popular font, calling it a "safe bet." Typeface expert Brian Hoff, creative designer at Brian Hoff Design, agrees. "It's very neutral," he told HuffPost. "It's clean but doesn't have much of a way about it."
"It has the same positive attributes as Garamond, but for me doesn't feel as dated because it is less curvy," Howie said of this font. However, Hoff said that Georgia tends to appeal more on the Web than it does in print. So if you're going to distribute hard copies of your resume, think twice about Georgia.
"It's a no-fuss typeface that has a timeless feel to it," Hoff said. Howie mentioned that Helvetica is popular at the recruiting firm where she works.
Modern. Tasteful. Professional. Interesting. "Calibri really does it for me -- it's my personal favorite," Howie said. "It's clear, readable, straightforward but not lacking in personality." In Microsoft Office 2007, Calibri replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface in Word and replaced Arial as the default typeface in PowerPoint and Excel.
Of course, some typefaces are absolute negatives. Comic Sans, for one, should never be considered, according to the experts we interviewed.
"Comic Sans was literally created for comic books," Hoff said.
"In the professional world, it is totally inappropriate," Howie added.
Times New Roman, a font praised by high school English teachers across the country, is not so warmly received in the professional world, either.
"It's telegraphing that you didn't put any thought into the typeface that you selected," Hoff told Bloomberg News earlier this year. "It's like putting on sweatpants."
The consensus: Be interesting but not too playful. Be professional but not basic. Be modern but not extravagant. Moderation is key when it comes to resume fonts.