Tips for Good Texting Etiquette

Texting is a very useful way of communicating. It is more accessible than email and is instantaneous. It allows you to send notes of limited size that the recipient can respond to immediately with minimal disruption. You can send just a little blurb, or instruction, or you can carry on an entire conversation. This allows people to relay information rapidly, and can save time when one needs a simple answer, and can avoid the time wasted engaging in the protocols involved with even a brief telephone conversation.

However, texting does have its downfalls. It is often misused, or poorly timed, creating uncomfortable social situations, or minor distractions that can have fatal results. It is not only important to remember the social implications of a text conversation, but the issues of physical safety when operating equipment or a motor vehicle. The distraction of texting has produced countless auto accidents that have resulted in serious injuries and death. That momentary reaction to a text or a tweet can create fatally hazardous conditions.

What and How to Text

• Be mindful of who you are speaking to. Not everyone uses the modern text shorthand more commonly known as ‘Text-speak’. It can be annoying to spell everything out, but there is a great possibility that the other person cannot understand your abbreviations, and there is no point in sending a text that the recipient cannot understand. Younger people should especially keep this in mind when texting with people of older generations. As a general rule, one should use formal English when texting, unless it is with someone with whom you are very familiar, and are positive that they understand Text-speak.

Text shorthand is not ethically appropriate for professional communications. If there is a company protocol specifically outlining the use of certain abbreviations, then use it. Otherwise, spell everything out. Sometimes these messages are saved and used to track events, confirm matters like instructions or contract compliance, and are even admissible in legal proceedings. It is always important for business related texts to contain clear, and concise communications.

• Keep messages short. Texting is for brevity. Use Email for conveying detailed information.

• Keep in mind that tone and voice inflection are not present in text, and anything you say may be misunderstood. Be careful of what you say and how you say it. Remember, sarcasm, wit and other verbal subtleties do not translate into text.

• Make sure to proofread your text messages to be sure they make sense before you send them. Many people make the mistake of misspelling a word or not noticing that auto correct has altered a word and its meaning entirely, which could create seriously embarrassing, or even offensive situations that can be a particular detriment in a business environment. There are now entire websites devoted to humorous text mistakes. It is not likely that you would enjoy the notoriety that comes along with having your text appear on one.

• Do not use all caps when texting. All caps is the Netiquette equivalent of yelling and the recipient will assuredly take some level of offense to it.

• You cannot take back a text once you send it, so make sure the text says exactly what you want it to say. Avoid texting that fosters debate or conveys controversy, even with those close to you. Angry text messages have had a unprecedented impact on countless legal cases.

• Always check to make sure that your text is going to the person you intend. All too often people accidentally send a text to the wrong person. This could have especially embarrassing or even dangerous results if the text includes sensitive personal information.

• Even though you are not dealing directly with a person and cannot see them, you are still talking to that person and need to keep that in mind. It is easy to forget that there is a human being on the other end, and you lose your empathy. With the high-resolution, large screen used commonly in today’s Smart phones, you also may have a larger audience than just the person you are addressing. Filter your words as carefully as you would if you were face to face with that person. It is a good, general rule to never text content that has a message you would not deliver in person. Avoid sending impulsive comments.


This article is taken from the book “Technological Etiquette: OMG,” by Dr. Richard L. Travis.

This book is part of a series of books called “Dr. T’s Living Well Series,” by Dr. Richard L. Travis.

The series contains books for Parents on ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Obesity, Anger, Drug and Alcohol Problems, Low Self-Esteem, and Trauma and Loss. There are also books on Addictions in different careers, Sexual Identity, Gay Relationships and Guided Imagery.

Visit to see more information on these books.

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About Dr. Richard L Travis : Author of this Article

Dr. Richard Travis is a psychotherapist in Private Practice in South Florida. He has Specialties in Addictions, including State, National and International certifications. He has worked with several people in the healthcare industry who have been in Addiction Monitoring Programs, and actually facilitates several groups a month which have professionals who are being monitored by national or state agencies.

Dr. Travis also spent many years as a teacher and counselor in schools in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. He has published several books for parents about teens and pre-teens. He has also a variety of other books published, including a series on Addictions.