Resume Formats

This section is largely about electronic formats. More details about physical formats are discussed in other parts of the section on presentation of resumes.

Making a publicly available electronic copy is recommended for those who are actively seeking a job. This does involve releasing personal details, such as an E-Mail address and a phone number, online. This is an open door for online attackers or others who may wish to engage in harrassment. Privacy becomes a non-expectation. E-Mail addresses are almost certain to get “spam” (unsolicited E-Mail, which may be bulk commercial E-Mail or malicious mail such as attempts to “phish” sensitive information, or distribution of malicious software). In fact, using an expendable (temporary) E-Mail address may even be a good idea. These are the downsides. There are also upsides.

Physical resumes have even become less important. Sometimes job interviews can involve multiple people meeting up to simultaneously interview an individual candidate. In that case, the interviewed candidate may have no need for printed copies of a resume, because somebody in the organization may have already used an electronic copy to print enough physical copies for everyone. Although an interviewed job candidate would be well-prepared to bring along a few physical copies, in case they are useful, a job candidate should not be surprised if people do not have a use for any further physical copies.

When creating electronic copies, a recommendation for the filename is to include your name. Do not just name the file “resume.doc”. Many hiring managers do not try to have more computer skills than what is needed for them to get by, and they may find your resume represented by an icon on their virtual desktop. Having that icon be named after you can be helpful.

The best file format to use is going to be the one that the hiring manager finds to be the most convenient. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to know exactly which file format is most convenient. The number of managers that use the “Works 6.0 & 7.0 (*.WPS)” file format may be rather small. However, if the owner of a small business likes to use software that uses that format, then there may be an advantage to having your resume open up more easily than other resumes provided by many of the other candidates.

The preferred format(s) may vary as commonplace technology changes over time. In the first part of the millenium, here was a summary of some of the most popular formats.


Many employers were not as satisfied with having just an HTML version. However, this version can be easy for people to open up, and is quite easy for web spiders to search.

Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)

This proprietary format was notably popular. People who weren't using this format were often judged as being out of touch with common businessplace expectations.

However, this has changed somewhat is recent years. A bunch of people started to feel like Microsoft strongly complicated things by introducing a newer *.docx format which was incompatible with earlier releases of Microsoft software. The *.odt file format started to gain a bit more acceptance.


Actually, the Rich Text Format (*.rtf) can be one of the most compatible, widely-supported formats available. Unfortunately, this format has gain a reputation of being less supported because the definition is rather flexible and imprecise, which has led to some cases of incompatibilies. Despite that concern, there are times when the *.rtf format has worked very well, and even superior to any other alternatives. Job seekers are encouraged to place a well-formatted *.rtf file alongside other formats. Job interviewers are encouraged to not avoid the format over unforunded concerns. Don't be threatened by this useful format.

This guide will provide some hints for creating good RTF files.

Anyone interested in further technical details about RTF can visit: file formats info: rich text format

This guide shows some steps for converting a resume into multiple other formats. This section recommends some specific software be used for some tasks. These recommendations are based on some experimentation that checked how well the created files could be viewed with:

It was found that the files created by Microsoft Word 2003 tended to be more compatible. There may be some disadvantage, such as the files being slightly larger, but the compatibility benefits tended to be far more likely to be noticeable.

Making resume content

Create a rough draft. Focus on content. Get information to fit on a page. Even if a different word processor will end up changing precisely how much information fits on a page, getting close will likely be much more desirable than not even being close.

Use LibreOffice
  • Save as “ODF Text Document (.odt) (*.odt)”
  • Make additional files
    • (Even though these files won't be necessary, they are convenient to make now)
    • In LibreOffice, save as “Microsoft Word 97-2003 (.doc) (*.doc)”
      • To distinguish from files saved in other word processors, maybe include a code-phrase such as “temp” or “tmp” (temp) or “lib” (LibreOffice)
    • In LibreOffice, save as “Microsoft Word 2007-2013 XML (.docx) (*.docx)”
      • To distinguish from files saved in other word processors, maybe include a code-phrase such as “temp” or “tmp” (temp) or “lib” (LibreOffice)
    • In LibreOffice, save as “Rich Text (.rtf) (*.rtf)
      • To distinguish from files saved in other word processors, maybe include a code-phrase such as “temp” or “tmp” (temp) or “lib” (LibreOffice)
  • Close LibreOffice Writer so it doesn't cause inconvenience by locking a file.
Open Microsoft Word
  • Make sure that LibreOffice Writer doesn't have the *.doc* file opened.
  • Open the *.doc* file
    • Microsoft Word can also open the *.rtf file. However, opening a *.doc* file is probably going to provide preferred results.
    • This guide recommends opening the *.doc file when using Microsoft Word 2003, as that is the most “native” file format for that version of the word processor.
    • Although Word 2003 can open *.docx (Word 2007) documents (at least, if software is sufficiently updated/new), Word 2003 won't show the *.docx files if the File, Open dialog box's “Files of type:” drop-down box is set to “All Word Documents (*.doc; *.dot; *.htm; *.html; *.url; *.rtf; *.mht; *.mhtml; *.xml)”. (The drop down box might not show anything after the * from the *.rtf if the dialog box is as thin as possible.) The *.docx (Word 2007) documents will show up if “Files of tpe:” is set to “All Files (*.*)”, which is not recommended.
Review bullet points

Check bullet points that are in the file.

They may need to be replaced. For instance, in each series of bullet points, check if the last bullet point looks notably smaller than the other bullet points.

  • If the last bullet point looks fine, then this may be a non-issue. In that case, be thankful for the blessing.
  • However, this has been an issue when checked multiple times. As an example, TOOGAM's April 2016 Resume shows three files (the *.doc, *.docx, and *.rtf files) which have this happen when the files are opened in Microsoft Word 2003. The resulting small (and, therefore, mismatched) bullet point is noticeable when viewed electrically and if printed. So, checking is recommended, even if it wasn't an issue the last time this was checked.
    • If the mismatched bullet points is an issue, then in many cases, the following process works:
      • Go to the line with the smaller bullet point. Press backspace multiple times. (Twice may often be sufficient.) The backspace key should be pressed enough times that the cursor is on the same line as the prior bullet point which has text.
      • Press Enter
      • Check if the result looks well. If not, press Ctrl-Z to undo one or more changes.
    • In some other cases, that may not work as well.
      • For instance, if the small bullet point comes right after a sub-list that had other bullet points that were indented further.
      • In that case, copy a line that has a prior bullet point.
    • Be careful when deleting a line. Doing so may automatically adjust an already-corrected bullet point.
      • This might be particularly true if selected text includes a portion from a previous line. Deleting all of the characters on a line, except for the first character of a line (and perhaps also except for the last character of a line), tends to work well. The rest may require more care, such as closer inspection.
Save using some of the more useful/popular formats
  • save as “Word Document (*.doc)”
    • (e.g., include “msw” in name)
  • Save as “Word 2007 Document (*.docx)”
    • (e.g., include “w2k7” or “msw2k7” in name)
  • Save as “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)”
    • Since this uses the same file extension as one of the formats mentioned earlier, saving this file may require altering the base part of the filename to result in a unique filename. (e.g., “w97” or “msw97”)
    • Don't be alarmed by the dialog box noting possible incompatibilities. Such incompatibilities are rather unlikely for this particular conversion.
  • Save as “Rich Text Format (*.rtf)”

This guide currently recommends closing and re-opening the document. When re-opening the document, verify that the results seem satisfactory. That way, if there are any warnings that cause concern, or visible changes, one doesn't need to have as much doubt about whether the changes were in effect during previous changes to the file.

Saving to more formats
  • Save as: “XML Document (*.xml)”
  • Save as: “Works 6.0 & 7.0 (*.WPS)”
  • After saving the last file, Word 2003 may show a notice about conversion. To be on the safe side, this guide recommends re-opening the *.doc file.
  • Save as: “Word 97-2003 & 6.0/95 - RTF (*.doc)”
    • As an example of some text to add to the filename, as a segment of the filename: “wdrtf” or “mswdmultrtf
  • “Single File Web Page (*.mht; *.mhtml)”
  • “Web Page (*.htm; *.html)”
    • As an example, placing “wd” in the filename, at the end of the base part of the name, can help to distinguish from a manually made HTML page.
  • “Web Page, Filtered (*.htm; *.html)”
    • As an example, placing “wdf” in the filename, at the end of the base part of the name, can help to distinguish from a manually made HTML page, and from a page that isn't using this “Filtered” format.
    • A conversion notice will be shown, notifying that some Microsoft “Office-specific tags” are expected to be lost. Well, that's okay, because the one remaining conversion is also expected to remove such information anyway.
  • “Plain Text (*.txt)”
    • Choose desired encoding (e.g., "MS-DOS")
    • Before saving, check the preview window. If some of the text turned red, note that the red text will be lost. This can be manually corrected, but the process may be a bit faster if repairs are made after first identifying some text which is about to be lost.

That completes the list of formats to create from within Word.

Review “text” versions

Review the HTML and “Plain Text (*.txt)” versions.

  • Make sure that no bullet points are missing
    • (If they are, then make new bullet points. HTML supports nexted lists to create bullet points at various levels. A text document could use characters like a hyphen, a lowercase letter o, or an asterisk. If high-ASCII Code Page 437 is used, a nice-looking character may be double greater-than sign by using Alt-175 (or Alt-0187).
  • Make a text version.
    • RFC Format has some references to resources that mention details about why a text version is nice.
    • There are various ways.
      • This guide provides some suggestions for how to make a “text file” version that would withstand some scrutiny of the file's formatting (if anyone cared to scrutinize it).
      • To do this, I typically start by opening my preferred HTML version in a web browser, and use the web browser's ability to “copy” the entire text, and paste it into a Notepad window.
      • I then go through the file, looking for text that could use some manual formatting (such as centered text), missing bullet points, poorly converted characters, or other files.
      • At the same time, I perform a manual word wrap. RFC 2223 page 5 mentions a 72 character width. 77 characters is often quite workable with an 80 column screen (still providing room for a single-character border on each vertical side, plus room for a single-character “scroll bar”). Of course, many modern terminals provide many more characters, while smaller screens may typically render fewer characters. Make a decision, and be consistent throughout the file.
      • The following is a recommendation to consider, and is regarding the style of the text file. When lines are manually wrapped around an imposed width, consider indenting the subsequent line. (When lines are wrapped multiple times, have each continuing line be wrapped an equal amount from the first line.)
      • Consider placing a second blank line before each header. That can help the headers to stick out more easily.
      • Many people have passion about whether a single space is used after a period which ends a sentence (which is sometimes called a “full stop”), or whether two spaces ought to be used in that case. The world seems to have generally favored a single space when using proportional fonts, which has become quite common. (Perhaps one strong motivator is the behavior of web browsers to collapse neighboring spaces, which has resulted in a lot of documents being rendered with one space. Consequently, many people have gotten used to that.) Besides the standard of consistently using single space, and the standard of consistently using two spaces, there is another standard that some people have favored:
        • Use one space after periods when writing text that is typically rendered in a proportional font
        • Use two spaces after periods when writing text that is typically rendered in a monospace (non-proportional) font.

        Since text files are traditionally rendered as mono-space, particularly when using software that is designed specifically for text files, this standard would recommend using two spaces.

  • Look for character sequences known to be caused from common problems when converting from Microsoft Word to text
    • In HTML, look for ASCII 147 (hex 0x93) or ASCII 116 (hex 0x74), which may be poorly convereted “ or ”
    • In text, look for ASCII 63 (hex 0x3f) which may be a poorly converted “smart quote” character (either “ or ”) and which might be rendered as a ?
    • ASCII 150 (0x96), which may be a an “emdash” (&emdash; / ), and probably best replaced with ASCII 45 (0x2D)
    • ASCII 151 (0x97), which may be a an “endash” (&endash; / ), and probably best replaced with ASCII 45 (0x2D)
    • ASCII 63 (0x3F) is the question mark. Since most resumes have a very small number of question marks (probably zero is a common amount), having a question mark in an automatically-created text file might indicate a conversion issue.
  • For text documents in particular, formatting (like “centered text”) may need to be created manually.

Create an HTML file, which serves as a file listing.

Zip the files up. (The Zip file format is much, much easier to work with in modern versions of Microsoft Windows, which may not contain as easily usable support for *.tgz files.) See: bit compression.


As of 2016, these are the versions that I like to place online:

Web page (HTML version)
  • For people visiting a website, this may be the fastest way to see the document's content.
  • Note: the web pages may be converted manually. They may not be formatted identically to some other document versions, particularly regarding the location of page breaks.
  • Further details about this file format: HTML
Rich Text Format file
  • RTF files work well in mulitple word processors
    • (RTF files saved from Microsoft Word 2003 were found to be more widely and correctly supported than some other RTF files.)
  • Further details about this file format: file formats info: rich text format
Microsoft Word 97-2003 Document File (*.DOC format)
This uses up a bit less disk space that the RTF version, and is also widely supported by modern word processors. However, newer Wordpad versions are not supporting the ability to properly read this format. This decision by Microsoft reduced compatility of Microsoft's invented format when used by Microsoft's own software.
Open Document Text (*.ODT)
The native format of LibreOffice is also supported well by Microsoft Wordpad from Windows 7. That Wordpad version actually support this *.ODT format better than the Word 97-2003 *.DOC format.
Microsoft Word 2007-2013 XML Document (*.docx)
A file with this extension can be created by saving from Microsoft Word. LibreOffice also uses the samefile extension for another type: “Office Open XML Text”.
ZIP file containing multiple formats
A ZIP file can contain multiple formats. For instance, several formats can be created using Microsoft Word 2003. Formats include “Works 6.0 & 7.0” (*.WPS) and “Word 97-2003 & 6.0/95 - RTF” (using the *.doc file extension).


(e.g., something under Upload:

(This page previously ended with a blurb about ODT files; that information can now be found in this appropriate location: Techn's: File formats ending with o: (Old) Office for Windows ODF support.)