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ASCII Resumes

How to Create a Plain-Text Version of Your Resume


What is ASCII

ASCII (pronounced askee) is an acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. It is a simple text format that does not use formatting specific to any particular application. Because of this, documents saved as an ASCII (or text file) can be used across all platforms.

And Why Are You Telling Me This?

Now that you've invested in great word processing software that will make any document you produce as stylish as any magazine, I'm telling you to forget all that fancy stuff. Why would you want to do that? Have you taken a look at any online job listings lately? Many online resume banks require you to submit your resume in ASCII or in plain-text format. Many companies that allow you to submit your resume via email also require this plain text format. These companies request that your resume be sent not as an attachment, but rather as part of your email message. If you are sending a resume by snail mail, you can do a fancier version of your resume. Be mindful, though, of whether a scannable resume is required.

Let's Get Started

Now you know what ASCII is and why you may need to use it, let's learn how. Writing your resume in ASCII format is easy. Making it look good may take a little work.

What Software Do I Need?

That's the beauty of it -- you do not need any special software. Any word processing software will do. However, you must save the document you create as a plain text file. When you try to save a document in most word processing programs, it will default to the format used by that particular program. Under the list of formats that pop up when you try to save a file, you will have to select the text format. You may also work in a text editor, such as Microsoft NotePad, that comes packaged with Windows 3.1 and up, or Note Tab, which is available in freeware and commercial versions.

Some Pointers

  • Line length should not exceed 80 characters
  • Do not use word wrap -- use hard returns instead
  • You cannot use bullets in ASCII format -- instead use astericks or hyphens (dashes)
  • Use a fixed width font, i.e. 10 point Courier
  • Use spaces to line up your text

  • Use left justification, and use spaces to center text
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