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Reason - What file types does Turnitin accept? – Student Guide

File requirements

To submit successfully, Turnitin requires files to be:

  • less than 100MB;
  • has a minimum of 20 words (unless the assignment settings state otherwise)
  • is less than 800 pages (.xls/.xlsx and .csv files must be less than 450 pages)

Turnitin error message example




Turnitin will currently accept the following file types:

  1. Microsoft Word® (.doc/.docx)
  2. OpenOffice Text (.odt) (except if created in google docs)
  3. WordPerfect®  (.wpd)
  4. PostScript (.ps)
  5. HTML
  6. Hangul Word Processor file (.hwp)
  7. Rich text format (.rtf)
  8. Plain text (.txt)
  9. Adobe® PDF – Turnitin will not accept PDF image files, forms, or portfolios, files that do not contain highlightable text (e.g. a scanned image file), documents containing multiple files or files created with software other than Adobe Acrobat®.
  10. Microsoft PowerPoint® (.pptx, .ppt, .ppsx, and .pps) – Turnitin will convert the file into static PDF, leaving all text and images in their original format but leaving out features such as presenter notes, embedded video, and animations. Text with visual effects is not supported, and it is recommended that any visual effects, such as shadows and 3D, be removed before submission.
  11. Microsoft Excel® (.xls and .xlsx)

Reason - Your submission must contain 20 words or more (or 100 characters or more).

Turnitin has minimum and maximum limits on the number of words, characters and pages you can submit. If you go below the limit, you will see the error Your submission must contain 20 words or more (or 100 characters or more). It’s very rare to go over the limit.

Usually, this is caused when uploading a document that contains only scanned images, or a PDF that has been created from something besides Word, Excel or Powerpoint. Turnitin sees the file as an image and thinks it is empty, no matter how many words are on the images.


If you have scanned a document in PDF format

  • Open your PDF document.
  • Take a screenshot of the page. You may want to open the PDF into full screen view first.
  • Create a new Word document and paste the screenshot image.
  • Repeat this for each page of your scanned PDF.
  • Add a cover page including at least 20 words of text.
  • Save the document as a PDF and upload into Turnitin. You may need to reduce the file size if you have a lot of scanned pages.


If you have created a poster in Photoshop and want to upload it as a PDF

  • Save the poster as a JPG picture
  • Create a new document in Word or Powerpoint
  • Change the page settings to match the size of your poster
  • Insert the JPG picture into the document
  • Add a cover page with at least 100 characters/20 words of text
  • Save the document in .pdf format (.docx format also works here)
  • Upload this file into Turnitin


If you want to upload a PDF that was created in Google Docs

This guide has advice for uploading documents from Google Drive, and converting documents that aren’t readable.


If you are submitting a large file with over 800 pages

You will need to ask your tutor to set up separate parts in the assignment so that you can submit them in separate documents. Usually, there is a logical place to split the document, such as the main body and the appendices of a dissertation.  However, you must always liaise with your module convenor first to ensure your submission aligns with the assessment brief.


If you have created a presentation using a graphic design platform such as Canva

You would need to ensure that you download the file as an editable PPT – instead of simply downloading (in which case the PPT slides will be non-editable images, and Turnitin will not process the file, think of it as a ‘digital printout’ of the PPT), make sure to go to MORE –> Save As PowerPoint Presentation so that when you submit, Turnitin will detect the text, accept the submission and produce a similarity report without errors.

Canva save settings
The image shows the Canva save settings. Avoid direct Download and instead go to Save as a PowerPoint Presentation so that Turnitin can detect the text.

Reason - Turnitin M14: 11 Error

This guide is for staff and students in the University of Roehampton London programmes. If you have found this guide via Google and you attend or work at a different university, don’t hesitate to contact your relevant institution’s helpdesk.

When opening a submission in Moodle, students and staff may occasionally encounter the so-called M14 error.

Turnitin’s technical support team have suggested that this error indicates one of the following has occurred. Turnitin could not fully process the paper due to the following reasons: 

  1. A paper can fail to process correctly if it contains complex content, such as dense vector images which take too long to process. To work around this issue, the student is advised to replace any vector images (Examples of Vector graphics are: AI, EPS, WMF and PICT (Mac)) in their paper with raster images (jpg/jpeg, psd, png, tiff, bmp and gif).
  2. Some PowerPoint templates may include vector images.
  3. Use a third-party pdf converter/converter other than the in-built MS Office O365 one.
  4. Also, Turnitin has suggested that if the first page of a paper includes an image without text, the processing process is sometimes aborted, making the document inaccessible. 
  5. Includes text with visual effects such as 3D glow or shadow. 
  6. The file is password protected. 
  7. Microsoft® Works (.wps) files
  8. Microsoft Word 2007 macros-enabled .docm files
  9. OpenOffice Text (.odt) files created and downloaded from Google Docs online.
  10. Document (.doc) files created using OpenOffice, as they are not 100% Microsoft Word equivalent
  11. Spreadsheets created outside of Microsoft Excel (ie .ods)



Prior to assignment deadline

Check whether any of the above apply, address the issue in question and resubmit your paper.

If none of the above apply to your paper, please convert it into a pdf using your Roehampton O365 account and resubmit it.  The paper will often be processed correctly the second time round.

If the error persists, contact Moodle Support for advice.

Past the deadline

If the Due Date for the assignment has already passed, contact Moodle Support or Partnerships Moodle Support. We will either fix the issue for you, or will liaise with Turnitin’s own technical support team on your behalf.


Prior to due date

  1. Download the original file submitted by the student.
  2. Check whether any of the above listed apply (too many pictures on the first few pages, wrong format etc.).
  3. If any of the above apply, ask the student to fix the issue (provided you know who it is) and resubmit or do it yourself assignment inbox settings permitting. If  anonymous marking is enabled, you will be better off asking the student to resubmit their paper.
  4. If none of the above apply, ask the student to save their paper as a pdf and resubmit or do it on their behalf assignment settings permitting.

Past the deadline: OPTION 1 – keep original submission date & time stamp, only works for papers without any of the above-listed errors

  1. Download the originally submitted file off moodle and check whether any of the obvious above mentioned reasons apply after all: pictures on front page, saved as .odt, pictures only and missing text etc.
  2. If the submission looks perfectly fine to you, do the following: Log in to the TurnitinUK website (see Accessing and Grading Turnitin Assignments Via the Turnitin Website (Staff)) and locate the relevant submission. If the inbox is anonymised you may have to cross check submission titles and date/time stamp to identify the correct submission. Alternatively, you may need to de-anonymise the name of that particular student only. 
  3. If you hover over the black exclamation mark if available, you should see the below message.
  4. Click on the exclamation mark and wait a few minutes for Turnitin to refresh the submission. Refresh the page and return to moodle and try to open the paper.


NB There may be several submissions with a black exclamation mark, not all of them are M14 errors. 

Other reasons for black exclamation marks are, for instance, word usage patterns that sometimes interfere with normal match detection = Turnitin being unable to recognise all the text in a submission. While this could be an indication of an intentional attempt to avoid similarity checking, it also occurs when converting files to PDF.

M14 errors on the TurnitinUK website can be identified by either a missing pencil icon or two dashes instead of similarity percentage.

OPTION 2 – if option 1 didn’t fix the issue, the black exclamation mark was not available or any of the above errors apply to the paper

  1. Failing option 1, download a copy of the original paper off moodle. You’ll find that in most instances, any of the above-listed reasons apply.
  2. Ask the student to fix the issue by removing pictures off the first few pages of their submission, adding more text, adding an extra slide, saving it in the correct format etc.
  3. Alternatively, fix the issue on behalf of the student if you are pressed for time.
  4. Make a note of the date & time stamp of the original submission for marks admin. Keep a copy or forward the information to the relevant administrator or convenor.
  5. Upload the updated paper on behalf of the student (anonymous marking settings permitting) and test whether it is accessible.
  6. The paper will now show as late. Ensure you inform the relevant people to prevent the submission from being capped.


Contact Moodle Support or Partnerships Moodle Support or your organisation’s relevant Moodle/IT support person.