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Converting a Word Document to ASCII Text - the Long Method

By Susan P. Joyce

Follow these step-by-step instructions, and you'll have a perfectly clean ASCII text resume to use for your job search. Plain ASCII may be required for some online job applications you complete. This is the resume format that you can copy and paste into the body of an email message, too.

Converting a Word document to ASCII text:

  1. Spell check your resume, and then re-save your resume in your word processing program (e.g. Word) before you move to the next step.
  2. Open a simple text editor like Notepad (on the PC).
  3. Start Word (or your word processing program if you're not using Word), if it is not already open.
  4. In Word (or your word processing program), open the file for your resume. If you make any changes, be sure to double-check your spelling and grammar before you save the file.
  5. Highlight all the text in your Word document by:

    • Using your mouse to run from the top of the file to the bottom, or
    • On your PC, holding down the Control and the "a" keys simultaneously.

      Highlight -- You will know that the text is highlighted because the background and letters of highlighted content are in reverse from their normal state (black background with white letters is the highlighted state for normal black letters on a white background).

      Don't let your mouse "touch down" anywhere in the document's window, or the highlighting will go away, and you will have to start over again.
  6. Copy the highlighted text into your computer's temporary storage (the "Clipboard" in a PC) by pressing the Control and the "c" keys simultaneously (on a PC).
  7. Move to your simple text editor, most probably Notepad (step 1, above), and paste the copy of your resume file into this new editor.

    • Click inside the Notepad window, and then
    • Click on Edit > Paste, or
    • On your PC, press the Control and the "v" keys simultaneously.
  8. Save as plain text.

    • Select File > Save As, and then
    • Name the file your-name-resume.txt (or whatever.txt), with
    • (in Notepad), "Text Documents (*.txt) selected as the "File of Type" or as "Save as Type"

You will notice that your resume, in Notepad, is not as "pretty" as it was before. That's because it is now plain text. All special formats, like bolding and italicizing, have been removed, as have any graphics or other non-text elements. (Now you know why it is called "plain" text!) This is a good thing! At least, for e-mail, it is.

Check out the sample finished ASCII resume. Be sure to read Protecting Your Privacy and Choosing a Job Site for more information.

More Information About Successful Resumes on the Internet:

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.