How to create plain text files for the Drop Box

Word processors provide formatting to make text pretty. Unfortunately this formatting is not necessarily understood by programs other than the one which created it. In order to make sure that text files in the dropbox are readable by all, you must save them as plain text. Plain text files behave like a typewriter and have only those characters that you actually type. This includes the requirement that you create line breaks yourself by using the <Enter> or <Return> key move down to the next line. Automatic line wrapping will be lost in a plain text file.

Failure to provide line breaks results in text files that seem to run past the right side of your viewing window when looking at the text with a web browser. If the number of characters exceeds 256 without a line break, some of the text may be lost depending on the ability of the software to handle long lines. Some software such as Notepad will allow you to turn off word wrap and this will help remind you to provide the line breaks.

The Windows program Notepad always saves plain text, but still requires attention to the line break creation. You can usually have Notepad available on almost any Windows system. Typically you can find it using "Start", "Programs", "Accessories". Notepad is useful to check for plain text being saved correctly when you create your text in other programs. If it looks strange in Notepad, it will look strange when viewed with a web browser.

When using MS Word or Wordpad, you can save a plain text file by selecting "File", "Save As" and then you will see dialog box with a place to fill in the "File name" and another to select the "Save as type". The dropdown arrow on the "Save as type" will allow you to select "Text only" or "Text document".

This will save exactly what you typed, so you still need use the <Enter> or <Return> key to break your lines of text when putting your text into Word or Wordpad if you plan to post it to the dropbox. The automatic word wrap generated by Word will NOT be saved and every paragraph in Word will be saved as a single long line of text if you do not supply the line breaks.

Once you have saved a plain text file, you can use your normal system functions to rename it if needed. Text files to be submitted to the dropbox should have names with .txt at the end. Once created, the file can be added to your email like any other file attachment.

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