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What Is a Plain Text Resume and When Should I Use One?

A plain text resume is a resume composed of nothing but text. No fancy graphics or fonts, no colors or borders or tables — just the letters and characters you’ll find on your keyboard.

You should use a plain text resume when:

  • Submitting your resume in an online form. For situations in which you’re asked to enter your resume in a “form page” on an employer website, a plain text resume that presents your credentials in organized fashion is ideal.
  • Submitting your resume in the body of an email. Likewise, if you’re requested to place your resume in an email message, using a plain text resume ensures that hiring managers can easily browse it, no matter which browser or email app they use.
  • Adding your resume to a job board. Although some job boards are getting more sophisticated about displaying resumes in different file formats, using a plain text resume guarantees that you’ll have a readable document, every time.

Creating a Plain Text Resume From Scratch

Keep these major formatting tips in mind when creating a text resume. You can also create a free text resume using our Resume Builder, and we’ll take care of the formatting for you.

1PHILIP FOSTER

Pittsburgh, PA
Cell: (555) 555-5555
E-Mail: example@example.com

2PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

Experienced Restaurant Manager bringing demonstrated success in developing and motivating strong restaurant teams capable of handling over 200 customers hourly. Keeps all areas clean and sanitized while managing inventory and preventing waste. Consistent career history of operations improvement, team building and revenue increases.

3Work History

March 2014 to Current

Outback Steakhouse – Pittsburgh, PA

Restaurant Manager

  • Reduced labor costs by 17% percent while maintaining excellent service and profit levels
  • Managed a 7-person team of cooks and back of house staff and a team of 8 front house staff for a busy steakhouse restaurant
  • Continuously evaluated business operations to effectively align workflows for optimal area coverage increasing customer satisfaction rating by 80%

December 2010 to February 2014

TGI Fridays – Pittsburgh, PA Assistant

Restaurant Manager

  • Reduced restaurant’s annual food and labor costs by 15% through proper budgeting, scheduling and management of inventory
  • Kept restaurant compliant with all federal, state and local hygiene and food safety regulations which kept food safety score between 95-100 every inspection
  • Coordinated kitchen stations with managers to cut down on customer wait times by 50%

July 2007 to November 2010

BJ’s Restaurants, Inc – Pittsburgh, PA

Restaurant Team Leader

  • Assisted customers in placing special orders for large-scale events such as corporate events and birthday parties
  • Recruited and hired over 10 employees offering talent, charisma and experience to restaurant team
  • Pitched in to help host, waitstaff and bussers during exceptionally busy times such as dinner hour
4Skills
  • Conflict resolution techniques
  • Performance improvement
  • Staff management
  • Service-oriented
  • Trained in performance and wage reviews
  • Business operations
  • Inventory control and record keeping
  • Marketing and advertising
5Education

Park Point University Pittsburgh, PA

Bachelor of Arts Hospitality Management

1

Use fixed-width fonts. If you’re creating your text resume in a standard word processing app like Microsoft Word, use a fixed-width font (also known as a monospaced font) so each character uses the same amount of space; this results in a more professional-looking resume. You should also keep your font at a standard size (10 or 12) throughout. Some fixed-width fonts you can use include Consolas, Courier, DejaVu Sans Mono, Lucida Console, Monaco and Prestige Elite. For a more complete list of monospaced fonts, see this Wikipedia page.

2

Don’t use italics, bold font or underlining for your text. These won’t show up when you save your resume in text format. You can use all caps for a section title (i.e., “WORK HISTORY”) but otherwise keep your text unadorned.

3

Don’t use bullet points or any special symbols. In place of bullets, use standard text characters such as plus symbols (+), asterisks (*) or hyphens. Also be on the lookout for “smart” (or curly) quotes, and replace them with straight quotes. If you want to create “dividers” between sections, use a simple symbol such as = or -, and repeat it several times, such as: ==================

4

Aim for 60 characters per line. Research indicates that people are most comfortable reading documents where lines are around 60 characters long. Limiting your lines to 60 characters also ensures that your resume can be easily read under most circumstances. To keep things simple, just create dividers between sections that are 60 characters long (as in our example), and then make sure that each line of text stays within those boundaries. An easy way to double-check your line length is to open your document in a text editor (such as Notepad) and “stretch” your window horizontally. If your text runs past the 60-character limit, you’ll need to add more line breaks to make sure everything fits.

5

Use spaces and hard line breaks. Using the tab key or “soft” line breaks (i.e., holding down the shift button while hitting “enter”) can mess up your formatting. Just use individual spaces in organizing your information, and hard breaks (i.e., just hitting the “enter” key) for line breaks.

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Creating a Plain Text Resume From an Existing Resume

If you’ve created a resume in a different format, such as Microsoft Word, there are two ways you can get it into text format:

  1. In the word processing app in which you’ve created the resume, click “save as” or “export,” and choose text format (e.g., “.txt”) as your option for saving the document. Then open the newly saved resume using a text editing app such as Notepad or Wordpad, and follow our tips in our “Creating a plain text resume from scratch” section above to update your document’s formatting.
  2. In the word processing app in which you’ve created the resume, select the entire resume, and copy and paste it to your text editing app. Chances are you’ll see some funky formatting, so follow the tips in our “Creating a plain text resume from scratch” section to clean up your document.

If you want a more efficient option, you create a resume using our resume maker, and download your document in text format, with all the formatting already taken care of. For more details, see our “How to use our builder to create the perfect plain text resume” section below.

3 Keys for a Standout Plain Text Resume

They call them text resumes for a reason — without any fancy designs or layouts, you have to rely on your text to make a strong impression. Follow these tips when creating your own resume:

  1. Energize your text with action verbs.

    Show you’re proactive, in charge, and in control by using powerful action verbs to describe your accomplishments, like managed, oversaw, executed or led. Here’s more tips for pumping up your resume with action verbs.

  2. Know what to emphasize.

    Even if you don’t have the fancy bells and whistles of resumes in other formats, you can make your resume stand out by drawing attention to your most important attributes. If you’re inexperienced but can show off skills crucial for job success, place your skills section up top using a functional format. If you have ample work history that demonstrates your expertise, devote the bulk of your resume to your experience, using a chronological format. Make sure each section heading stands out using simple symbols and capitalization (e.g., *Education* or EDUCATION). For more information about resume formatting, see our resume format page.

  3. Keywords are key.

    Since a plain text resume is all about words, make the words in your resume work for you. Look through the job description for key terms and phrases that the position requires, and incorporate them into appropriate sections. If a primary job task is “independent technical review of documentation,” note that you’re “experienced in independent technical review of documentation” in your summary. If “complaint resolution” is an important quality for the job, include “complaint resolution” under your skills list. For more keyword advice, see How to Use Keywords Effectively.

The Pros and Cons of a Plain Text Resume

Do

  • Since text documents don’t use any special formatting, they can be read easily , even by applicant tracking systems (ATS).
  • Compared to documents created by word processing programs, there’s also less chance of viruses getting into a plain text document.
  • The small file size of a text document makes it easy to attach to or include in the body of an email.

Don’t

  • Since a plain text resume lacks formatting, it’s more difficult to make it stand out.
  • If you’ve created a resume in another format (like Microsoft Word or PDF), saving it in text format can result in some messy formatting which requires work to fix.
  • When creating a text document, you must be careful about spacing, fonts and line breaks, or your document can look disjointed.

How To Use Our Builder To Create the Perfect Plain Text Resume

To create a plain text resume with a minimum of fuss, just use our Resume Builder, by following these steps:

Choose a template to start.

When you enter the builder, you’ll be asked about your work experience level, and then presented with a selection of resume templates. Since you’ll be saving your resume as a text file, you can use any template you like.

Create Plain Text Resume Step 1

Fill out your resume and save it.

Follow our step-by-step process for filling out each section of your resume, and add extra sections if needed. Don’t forget to save your document and move on to the next step.

Create Plain Text Resume Step 2

Click “download” and save in text format.

When you’re ready to download your resume, choose the “download” option from your menu. You’ll be given the option to download your resume as a text file. And that’s it! Like we said, no muss, no fuss. Take note, too, that you can download your resume in other formats, such as a PDF or Microsoft Word document, so the Resume Builder can be a one-stop factory to produce any kind of resume you need.

Create Plain Text Resume Step 3

Plain Text Resume FAQ

Why use a plain text resume?

For security reasons, some companies prefer to receive resumes in plain text format, such as in the body of an email, rather than as an attachment. Other jobs will require you to enter your resume in a website form. For these situations, it’s recommended you have a copy of your resume ready to go in plain text format.

How do I create a plain text document?

If you’re using a PC, go to your desktop screen, right click your mouse, and select New > Text Document. A blank text document will open up for you, ready for input. If you’re using a Mac, find TextEdit in your Applications folder, launch the program, click the “Format” menu and select “Make Plain Text.” You’re now ready to create your own resume.

How do you save a Microsoft Word document in plain text?

If you already have a version of your resume in Microsoft Word, create a text version of your document by going to File > Save As. On the save screen, choose the “Plain Text (*.txt)” format. Then open the new text document in a simple text editor, such as Notepad on a PC or TextEdit on a Mac. You’ll likely need to reformat much of your resume, so be sure to follow our tips above when doing so. Check for symbols that inadvertently changed during conversion, replace tabs and bullet points with spaces and safe symbols such as “+” and “-”, and use hard breaks between lines.

What’s the difference between plain text and “rich” text?

Rich Text Format (RTF) is a file format that can be read by different apps, but it’s different from text format (TXT) in that you can add certain stylings to your text, such as colors, bolding, and italics. While plain text documents look the same no matter what word processing app you open them up in, RTF documents can look different when read in different programs. When you’re requested to submit a plain text document, make sure you don’t create a rich text document by mistake.

How do I get rid of formatting in Word?

If you’re working from an existing resume in Microsoft Word, a simple foolproof way to change it into a text document within Word is to clear all the formatting from your document. Highlight the text of your resume, then click Edit > Clear > Clear Formatting. You can now edit and save the document as a text document, making sure to use the guidelines we’ve outlined above.