Most people don’t put much thought into what typeface they use when sending an email or creating a document.
Some might avoid Comic in a professional correspondence and instead select Arial or Times New Roman, but beyond that, I’ll bet most people have never even considered what their choice of typeface says about them.
Well, employers have. In fact, companies who used to turn to handwriting experts to “analyze” job applicants through their hand-written applications, are now looking at the typeface applicants select for correspondence and resumes to learn more about the applicant than the words on the page will tell them. To back up the legitimacy of using typeface to learn about an applicant’s skills, habits, and personality, a recent study by researchers at Wichita State University has revealed that your typeface can reflect your personality type, mood, and attitude.
Here is what the researchers found and what you might be communicating if you use some of these common typefaces.
Times New Roman
Indicates you are stable, polite, conformist, mature, formal, and practical. Times New Roman is a great choice for business and technical documents, web text, online news and tests, and spreadsheets. It is an “all-business” typeface of choice.
Study respondents found courier to indicate the user was unimaginative, rigid, sad, dull, unattractive, plain, coarse, and masculine, in addition to conformist and mature. Save it for overdue payment notices or termination letters if you use it at all.
Arial was found to give study respondents the same “conformist” feel of Times New Roman. This typeface was also found to indicate the user was unimaginative. It is best for spreadsheets, web headlines, and PowerPoint presentations, especially if you want to present your ideas in a professional and “authoritative” manner at the next company meeting.
Verdana says you’re dull, according to respondents. It is probably best for online tests or quizzes, math documents, computer programming, spreadsheets and PowerPoint. Strangely though, it was ranked a second choice typeface to be used for text messaging.
Although judged as unprofessional, subjects described those who use Comic Sans as youthful, casual, and passive. Save it for presentations or documents aimed at kids. Unless you’re selling children’s products or school supplies, using it in a business setting or on a professional website will make you look like an amateur.
Flexible, creative, happy, exciting, attractive, elegant, cuddly, and feminine—these were the adjectives associated with people who use this elaborate sans serif typeface. However, respondents also found that users might be unstable, rebellious, youthful, casual, passive, and impractical. It’s probably best used for E-greetings and not much else. If you managed to actually read this paragraph, you’ll know why we advise you to use this typeface with extreme caution– it is very hard to read, especially at 14 point or smaller. However, it’s great for hiding spelling errors 🙂
Impact is another typeface you’d want to use sparingly if at all. Users of Impact were judged by study respondents to be assertive, rigid, rude, sad, unattractive, plain, coarse, and masculine Impact is probably only appropriate for “scary” attention-getting headlines or ransom notes. In general, it’s probably best to stay away from this typeface.
The final word on typeface? Use what you want for your personal correspondence. Let your personality shine through. However, for work-related correspondence and resumes (unless you’re in the visual arts), you should probably stick with the “old standards” like Times New Roman and Arial.