Instant Messaging or Texting Etiquette

 In Learn English

While phone conversations have to a large extent been replace by communication by emails and texting which is practiced by all ages, there are still some rules when it comes to internet English.  These rules are not so much about grammar as texting abbreviations and acronyms and internet slang are mostly acceptable except in formal business and academic communications. The rules that have been written, or at least understood, are around texting etiquette.

English Texting Etiquette

Texting is so convenient, but it is so fast paced that it can lead to a lot of texting gaffes, with incomplete messages, bad predictive text results and breaches of etiquette. Some of these gaffes will be difficult to spot before the message has gone out, but texting etiquette is an area of this form of communications where knowing these rules beforehand can prevent a whole lot of problems and misinterpretations.

  1. Consider your audience.

Although you text one way with your friends, you don’t necessarily want to be perceived in that way with co-workers or clients.  Make your text appropriate for your audience.

  1. Communicate clearly.

Review your text for clarity before sending.

  1. Respond promptly.

Communication is fast and pacey: answering someone on IM should take no longer than 3 minutes, maximum of 5 minutes.  If you cannot respond immediately, apologize when you do manage to reply to the text.

Texting etiquette

  1. Use symbols and emojis appropriately.

Avoid using too many IM Acronyms. Too many ‘LOLs’ might spell insanity, not laughing out loud.  Don’t do emojis in formal texting communications. Be mindful as to when it is appropriate to use emojis. Keep those acronyms and emojis for more personal interactions. If in doubt, do not use them.

  1. Be patient.

As in a conversation, do not dominate the conversation and don’t blast them with texts while they are obviously spending time composting a response to you.

  1. Watch your tone.

Avoid sarcasm unless you know your texting buddy very well. Similarly, be careful when you share humor and jokes. People cannot read your body language and so either avoid some humor which could be misunderstood or add a smiley face or some emoticon.

  1. Viva la balance.

While it is a conversation killer to respond with a one-word answer, it’s also not necessary to reply with 2-paragraph answers, unless your text partner is requesting an extended answer. If you think you need to go into a detailed answer, pick up the phone.

  1. Getting to know you.

If two people have recently shared their screen names because of the potential of something romantic happening, the guy should message the girl first. If it’s just friendly, whoever was online when the person signed in is responsible for initiating the conversation.

10. Opting out.

If you feel uncomfortable with intrusive questions, do not reply or if you want to permanently end the conversation, block the person.


Please avoid using capital letters. It feels like you are being shouted at and it’s very unnerving and rude.

  1. Know when to end the conversation.

Like in a normal conversation, be sensitive to when someone might want to stop texting.  Do not try to continue the conversation with texts like “Are you still there?” or “Why aren’t you responding?”

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search