The Plain-Text Resume

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Most people create their resumes in a feature-rich word processor like Microsoft Word, which allows them to use special fonts, formatting, and page layouts. If you plan to print out your resume or attach it to an e-mail, the documents generated by those programs work excellently. But sometimes you need a more basic resume. An employer may want to see your resume in the body of an e-mail, for example, or a company’s web site may only allow you to input text. In these cases, you should create a plain-text resume.

Luckily, much of the work you’ve done on your resume will be preserved. In order to create a plain-text version, start by opening your resume in the word processor you used to create it. Then find the program’s “Save As” function, usually under “File,” and choose to save it as a plain text or Notepad file. The program may warn you that you’ll lose some formatting by saving in that file type. Click “OK” if that happens.

You’ll then need to clean up your plain-text resume a bit. Close your word processor and open the text file you just saved. Turn off the Word Wrap function so that you don’t inadvertently introduce new errors. Delete any references to page numbers and replace any bullets with an equivalent symbol like a dash, plus sign, or asterisk. Make sure that curved quotation marks have been replaced with straight quotation marks, and search manually for any strange formatting quirks that may have appeared during the conversion process. Common errors include unwanted line breaks and scrambled text.

Alternatively, you can try opening a plain-text editor like Notepad and copying and pasting your resume directly into it. You’ll still need to clean up the plain-text version of your resume if you employ this method, but if you’re encountering problems, it might help to have a second option available.

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