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ASCII Resumes: Learn How to Convert Your File

ASCII Resumes: Learn How to Convert Your File

ASCIITextASCII-o-Matic is a tool that lets you convert a 60×50 pixel JPEG image into ASCII art. I wish there was a similar tool for converting a Word-formatted resume into a nice-looking ASCII file. ASCII resumes are necessary if you need to email your resume or copy and paste to online forms, but properly converting the file is time-consuming. The “save as” text option in Word is handy, but there is always a lot of cleanup necessary to make the file look as attractive as possible in plain-text format. Any developers out there able to automate this process?

While we wait for the magic tool, here are instructions for converting a resume to ASCII format:

How to Create an ASCII Resume
by Kim Isaacs, Resume Expert and Director of

The following instructions are meant to be a basic guide to preparing your ASCII resume. There’s a lot you can do with ASCII, so feel free to play around with keyboard symbols to see what works for you. Your resume should be easy to skim, consistent, and attractive given the limitations of plain text.

To create an ASCII resume using MS Word:

  • Open your Word document, go to Save As, and under “Save as Type,” select “Plain Text.” Give the file a new name like YourName_ASCIIforWebforms. Important – check the box “Allow Character Substitution.” Click “Save” to save the new file.
  • Exit Word and open Notepad (Notepad can be found on Windows systems by going to Start> All Programs> Accessories> Notepad).
  • Change bullets to asterisks or dashes if they didn’t convert properly after you saved as text.
  • Make sure the text is coherent, especially if columns or tables were used in the original document.
  • Review the heading to ensure that the address, phone number(s), and e-mail addresses are placed in a logical sequence.
  • Add stylistic elements to the header sections so that they stand out. A horizontal line may be created by using a series of dashes or asterisks. Example:

Professional Experience

  • If you have a cover letter (which you should!), paste the letter on page one (before the resume). Remove extra line breaks by the signature line and add the word “RESUME” where the resume is about to start. Example:

John Doe


  • Remove contact information and page data from the secondary pages if your resume is longer than one page. So information such as “John Doe Resume – Page Two” and “ABC Company, accomplishments, continued” should be removed. The ASCII resume is meant to be read on a computer screen, so there is no distinction between pages.
  • Add a line break before and after job titles to help them stand out.
  • Place “Key Accomplishments” (or whatever the Accomplishments section is called) on its own line preceded by a couple of dashes.
  • Add an extra line between bullets if you have text-intensive bullets. Large paragraphs of plain text can be cumbersome to read.
  • Add two spaces between sections and between jobs.
  • Look for and remove special characters that might have crept in, such as accents over the “e” in “resume” or “San Jose”). Look for special characters that might have morphed into something like the letter “n” or “?” or “1” – this could happen by the address header if symbols were used to separate phone, city, etc. Symbols may also appear in the Education section if symbols were used to separate courses, schools, etc.
  • Look for bullets that have sub-bullets (it’s necessary to refer to the original resume), and use a dash to indicate sub-bullets.
  • Carefully review the document to make sure the resume is perfect and nothing strange is left in the file.

When you’re ready to email your resume or post to an online form, just open the appropriate file, select the text, copy, and paste the text to the message box or form. Remember to customize the cover letter to suit the opportunity.

You can view an ASCII sample here:
ASCII Resume Sample: TV Network Operations Manager

Best wishes for success with your ASCII documents, and let me know how your job search is going!