How to Develop the Perfect ASCII / Text Version of your Resume
Copyright © 2007

What is ASCII?
ASCII (pronounced by professionals as askee) stands for the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The basic ASCII alphabet only recognizes 96 characters. This alphabet and the online applications that adhere to it do not recognize borders, underlines, italics, bold face, page justifications, tab spacing, or graphic bullets. Not including the blank space, the basic ASCII character library only recognizes the following characters:


What is an ASCII Resume?

Also known as an electronic resume or a plain text resume, an ASCII resume is the stripped-down version of your resume that you'll want to develop for all online communications. Many job boards follow basic ASCII standards, and some slightly extend their formatting parameters. However, since most online job boards do not advertise the characters and formatting recognized by their systems, the best strategy is to keep your resume formatting as plain as possible. When sending employers information within an online submission form, drop down box, or within the body of an email, an ASCII version of your resume will be best. Even if a job board can upload your resume, you'll want to use an ASCII version. Otherwise, the styling details of your presentation resume may be compromised.

Converting a Stylish Microsoft Word Resume into an ASCII Format (for MS Windows):

  • Step One: Save your resume as a plain text file. This will cause your document to change its file name from .doc to .txt. Close Microsoft Word and open the new plain text file in Microsoft Notepad, an application normally found in your Accessories menu from the main Windows desktop menu. This will enable you to view your resume in the exact same way that online job boards will recognize it. Before you begin editing, go into the main toolbar and select "Word Wrap" under the "Format" option to ensure proper viewing.

  • Step Two: Develop your header in a flattering way. Start with your name and follow with your address, phone number(s), and email address. Format this to look like a left-justified list. For better impact, write your name in full caps and separate it from the rest of your contact information with a line of astericks.

  • Step Three: Fully capitalize all of the title headers for better impact and section separation.

  • Step Four: Make sure absolutely everything is in left justification. Trying to use tabs and various spacing techniques will only harm the look of your resume as many job boards will display your resume in different fonts. All columns should be reorganized into left-justified lists. If you have job header details tabbed or spaced to the right hand side of the page, bring them to the left side, and separate them with an asterick or comma.

  • Step Five: Replace bullet graphics with comparable characters such as astericks and hyphens. You can also get creative with character combinations to create designs such as arrows ( ==> ).

  • Step Six: Use hard returns to separate sections. All systems will recognize at least one blank line of space. Some systems will recognize multiple lines of space. You can develop your ASCII resume with multiple lines of blank space for maximum visual appeal; just understand that some systems will shrink those sections down to a single blank line.

  • Step Seven: Break up long title lines. Most systems will automatically wrap lines that exceed 80 characters in length. This is perfectly fine for paragraphs, but if you've developed a very long job header, you should break up all job title headings into multiple lines uniformly throughout the resume.

  • Step Eight: Delete page numbers. Obviously, you'll have no idea where one page ends and another begins through various job boards. Most will show your information in one long box. Additional listings of your contact information should also be deleted to avoid confusion.

Free Resume Examples:

To view the original version of an executive resume, visit our free sample resume page at:

Now view the ASCII conversion of the above listed resume here:

Using your ASCII Resume: Simply copy/paste the text from your ASCII resume when placing your resume in an online application, drop-down box, or within the body of an email for optimum results. It's just that simple!

This article is provided by Review 1000+ free resume examples, compare certified resume writing services, and get free resume evaluations.

Marie Plett is certified professional resume writer through the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW). She founded in 2003 and her advice has been published in the Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald.

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