What Is a Plain Text Cover Letter?

by Faizah Imani, Demand Media
    Make sure your cover letter is readable before pressing the send button.

    Make sure your cover letter is readable before pressing the send button.

    When applying for jobs, it's a good idea to send potential employers a copy of your resume and a personalized cover letter. If you are sending the cover letter via email, there are different text options available for you to use. Your best bet is to always use plain text, unless the employer specifically asks you to do otherwise.

    Text Options

    When sending a cover letter via email, you have two different text options including HTML text and plain text. HTML is the language of the Internet. It's a special coding that allows you to create visually appealing web pages. HTML text also allows you to send visually appealing cover letters, adding your photo, bullets, horizontal lines, fancy fonts and graphic signatures. With plain text, there are no fancy options available. Your cover letter is just plain old simple text. There are a couple of very good reasons you should send a plain text cover letter to potential employers.

    Why Plain Text?

    Not all email programs are created equal. Just because an HTML text cover letter looks good on your computer doesn't mean it will appear the same way on the hiring manager's computer. Rather than wasting time trying to read your HTML text cover letter, the hiring manager is likely to press the “delete” button. A plain text cover letter is universal, meaning that it will appear the same in all email programs. The hiring manager should have no problems reading it. Even if the hiring manager's email program is capable of displaying HTML text, using anything other than plain text may appear unprofessional.

    Using Plain Text

    Most email programs have a special format setting that allows you to toggle back and forth between plain text and HTML text emails. Depending upon the email program, you can choose plain text as the default formatting style for all of your email messages. If you are copying and pasting your cover letter text from a word-processing program, check the program's settings to make sure the format is set to plain text.

    Standing Out

    Sending a plain text email doesn't mean your cover letter has to be dull and boring. There are other ways to impress the hiring manager with your letter. Instead of using fancy fonts and graphics to sell yourself, use words. Every statement in your letter should grab the hiring manager's attention and make her want to know more about you. Talk about your skills, qualifications, experience and why you are the best person for the job. Use an attention getting subject line to make your email stand out. Some job announcements may ask you to use a specific subject line. If that's the case, follow the instructions listed in the advertisement.

    About the Author

    Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.

    Photo Credits

    • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images