How to Create a Plain Text Resume (With Template and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

Formatting your resume properly is an important part of the job application process. At some point in your job search, you may be asked to submit a resume in plain text, If you are unsure of what a plain text resume is, it's a good idea to know what an employer is looking for when they ask for one. In this article, we explain what a plain text resume is and how to format one correctly with a template, example and tips.

What is a plain text resume?

A plain text resume, also known as an ASCII resume, is a resume written in a plain text file format (.txt). This means it has no special formatting like colors, special lines or multiple columns.

When do you need to use a plain text resume?

There are two main reasons you need a plain text resume: when an employer requests one and when posting a resume to a job board.

Many larger companies run resumes through scanners to sort them and store them based on keywords, especially when they receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes for one position. The scanners work best without formatting. Companies also may require you to send your resume as plain text within the body of an email, because they have a rule for opening attachments, in case a virus is present.

If you are posting your resume to a job board, it may also be a good idea to submit it as a plain text file. When you upload a resume to a job board, a "bot" will extract the information from your file and upload it into the job board fields. When a resume has formatting, the bot will sometimes misplace information when it fills in sections, requiring you to go through and edit. If you upload a plain text file, the bots should organize the information into the correct fields. This will save you a lot of time and extra effort.

Before spending the time to create a plain text document, be sure to read the job description carefully for the format the employer wants. Some may want a formatted Microsoft Word document, some may require an attached plain text document and others may request for you to paste plain text directly into an email.

Related: What Happens to My Resume After I Click Apply? Plus Tips for Success

How to create a plain text resume

Follow these steps to create a plain text resume:

1. Turn your formatted resume into a plain text resume:

  • First, create your resume in your word-processing program of choice

  • Next, click on "File" in the upper left-hand corner of the word processor

  • Next, select the location you want to save your plain text document (desktop, important file folder, etc.)

  • Next, click on "Save As" and title your resume

  • Then, click on the drop-down menu of file types and select "Plain Text (.txt)"

  • Finally, click "Save"

2. Format your plain text resume for job board postings

Once you've turned your resume from a word document to a plain text document, you'll need to fix some formatting. Here are the steps to take:

  • First, close out of your word-processing program and open the plain text document you created

  • Next, remove any references to "next page" if your resume had more than one

  • Next, change any headings to all caps to distinguish them from the rest of the text

  • Next, bullet-points will format incorrectly, so choose another plain text symbol to use such as (*) (-) or (>)

  • Next, check quotation marks. Sometimes changing from a word document to a plain text document will change quotations to "smart" quotes which point in different directions and can cause chains of other symbols to appear in emails and on the web. Check to make sure all quotations are "straight" quotes.

  • Then, check for improper line breaks, jumbled text and other formatting issues

  • Finally, widen your text editing screen to see what your resume looks like without text wrap, to make sure it looks similar to your original resume without the special formatting.

3. Format your plain text resume for emails

If you're sending your plain text resume through email, you'll need to format your document a bit more so it's readable for your recipient. Some email services create long lines of text and wrap text in the wrong spots. Here's how to format your plain text document for high readability:

  • First, open your plain text document in Microsoft Word

  • Next, select all of the text and change the font to Courier, 12 pt.

  • Next, select "Page Layout" from the top toolbar and click on "Margins"

  • Next, select the drop-down menu at the bottom and choose "Custom Margins" (a "Page Setup" window will appear)

  • Then, in this window change the "Left Margin" at 1 inch and the "Right Margin" at 1.75 inches.

  • Finally, save your document as plain text.

Changing the margins to these numbers will keep your text lines no longer than 65 characters, which will eliminate long lines of text and other formatting issues in an email.

Related: Resume Format Guide (With Tips and Examples)

Plain text resume template

Here is a template to show you how a plain text resume may look:

[First Name and Last Name]

[Full Address]

[Phone Number]

[Email]

OBJECTIVE

Mention the type of role you are seeking with brief details about your years of experience, education and impressive work accomplishments related to the job you're applying to.

SUMMARY OF SKILLS

  • Include unique, marketable skills related to the job you want

  • Include any additional work accomplishments that show initiative and accountability

  • Choose specific experiences to showcase employable skill sets

  • Use as many keywords from the job description as possible

WORK EXPERIENCE

Job Title, Company, City, State, Dates of Employment

  • Describe your job responsibilities as accomplishments

  • Begin sentences with verbs

  • Use keywords from the job description

  • List jobs from most recent to least recent

EDUCATION

[College Name, City, State, Years of Attendance]

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

Only include volunteer experience if it directly relates to the job you are applying to

REFERENCES

Available upon request

Related: How to Write a Professional Resume: Getting Started

Plain text resume example

Here is an example plain text resume:

Nick Parker
123 Somewhere Road, Niceville, FL
(555) 888-0000
nickparker123@gmail.com

OBJECTIVE

An MBA with 5 years of experience developing and managing marketing campaigns and specialized working knowledge of Google Analytics and AdWords, seeks the role of Social Media Marketing Manager with XYZ Inc. to implement successful digital marketing campaigns and provide exceptional thought leadership.

SUMMARY OF SKILLS

  • Three years of specialized experience leading PPC and SEO marketing strategies

  • Managed social media accounts for four businesses with yearly sales over $500,000

  • Certified Digital Marketer 2016, Udacity

  • Received Employee of the Year Award at ABC Company 2018 and 2019

WORK EXPERIENCE

Social Media Marketing Associate, ABC Company, Nashville, TN, 2017-2020

  • Built a 15k Facebook following and 20k Instagram following for new startup, increasing leads by 160%

  • Developed compelling CTAs for website and social media copy, producing a 60% increase in sales

  • Formulated Instagram strategy and collaborated with influencers in our market to promote top-selling products, resulting in $200,000 net sales in three months

Website Manager, 123 Company, Austin, TX, 2014-2017

  • Team leader for the design and development of new mobile application

  • Conducted A/B testing on paid Facebook and Instagram campaigns, resulting in a boost in conversion from 70% to 90%.

  • Implemented innovative SEO strategy to increase organic website traffic 200% in five months

EDUCATION

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2006-2010

REFERENCES

Available upon request

Additional plain text formatting tips

Here are a few more tips to make sure your plain text resume is formatted properly:

  • Only use characters on your keyboard

  • Use a series of dashes to separate sections

  • Leave font size as is

  • Skip text-wrapping

  • Stick with Courier font

  • Use your spacebar for spaces

Only use characters on your keyboard

To avoid formatting problems, stick only to characters on your keyboard including numbers, letters and the other characters visible on the keys, so they convert correctly when changing your resume from a word document to plain text. Also, bold, underlined and italicized fonts will not convert correctly.

Use a series of dashes to separate sections

If you want a more visible separation of sections in your resume, use a series of double dashes (=======) to make the separation clear.

Leave font size as is

The size of the font that will show up on the recipient's end depends on their computer settings, so save time and effort by leaving all of your text the same size.

Skip text-wrapping

Instead of wrapping text, stick to margins that result in lines of 65 characters or less.

Stick with Courier font

Some typefaces have different widths for different characters, such as Times New Roman. Stick with a fixed-width font such as Courier so your text lines are truly 65 characters.

Use your spacebar for spaces

If you need to indent a line or want to center a heading, use the spacebar instead of the tab key. The tab function will be wiped away when the document is converted.

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