In Professional Communication, Fonts Matter

Posted April 9, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

A number of years ago, a joke was made about the ridiculousness of the Comic Sans fonts and how no one should use it ever. A quite popular website was made called And while Comic Sans is a universally terrible font, it’s not the only font that will make you look terrible if you use it, especially in a business setting. But these days, with everyone’s computers coming pre-installed with hundreds of fonts, it’s more and more difficult to make choices when it comes to professionally appropriate fonts.

That’s why we’re here; to give you the skinny on exactly which fonts and font types are appropriate for business communication.

Fonts to Use in Email or Web Communication

  • Type of Font:
    In both online and email communication, you should use simple san serif fonts. If you’re not certain of the difference between serif and san serif, check out the image below.

  • Sample Fonts:
    Many email programs will default to using Arial, Helvetica, or Gill Sans. These are all appropriate fonts for email communication.
  • Font Size:
    Either 10 or 12 point font is appropriate in email and web content, but don’t go much bigger or smaller.
  • What NOT to Use:
    Don’t use any fonts that are scripty, loopy, or generally decorative. Also, avoid wild colors or any kind of email background images or colors.

Fonts to Use in Professional Letters and Printed Documents

  • Type of Font:
    For most professional documents (resumes, cover letters, etc.), it’s appropriate to use a serif font. You’ll notice most books use serif fonts, and your professional communication should as well.
  • Sample Fonts:
    While the vast majority of font rules will tell you to use Times New Roman, I think there’s something to be said for branching out slightly. Times New Roman is not a bad choice, but you can also use similar serif fonts that might be more professional or polished. Try fonts like Garamond, Cochin, Baskerville, or Forum. Any fonts like these that are generally nondescript serif fonts are appropriate.
  • Font Size:
    Fonts size 10 or smaller can be too small for professional documents. Twelve point font is usually very appropriate.
  • What NOT to Use:
    Again, avoid ornate or scripty fonts. You’ll also want to avoid fonts that look childish in any way (Comic Sans is one of them). Try also not to use a font that presents as looking “bold” even when it’s not bold.


About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."

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