It wouldn't be a far stretch to say that a vast majority of our communications are sent via text messages. They are a convenient form of communication, extremely accessible and often warrant instantaneous responses. There isn't a delay. Everything is in real time. However, real time can be problematic if you are not aware of proper text etiquette. Responding emotionally or using colloquialisms in a text with work can be inappropriate or cause miscommunication.

Here are a few tips to keep text communications clear and in order according to Senning, the spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute and author of Emily Post’s Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online.

Safety First

Do not text while driving or operating a vehicle or machinery. Text messages can wait. Operating machinery or a vehicle can lead to an accident. If it’s urgent, pull over to a safe spot or parking lot.

Reply In A Timely Manner

The entire purpose of texting is to get a quicker response time. Taking an extended time to respond defeats the purpose. When you are unable to speak on the phone, you may be able to text (considering safety protocols and the complexity of your tasks or job duties). “There is a certain etiquette to being timely with texting and an expectation that the replies will come as soon as possible,” details Senning. “At the same time, you’re not beholden to your device. If it’s not an appropriate time to reply, just wait and do it later.”

Wait For The Appropriate Time To Text

Senning points out that, “The biggest mistake people make is not thinking about where and when they’re texting.” Refrain from texting at public gatherings such as the theaters, funerals, school programs, weddings, religious events or the likes. If it’s not an emergency, it can wait. If it is an emergency, excuse yourself from the event.

Keep Texts Concise

Senning states, “Texts are a shorter medium of communication, a little bit like an answering machine message. If it gets too long, the text becomes a burden to the person on the receiving end.” If you have a lot to say, break up the message into several texts, so it’s easier for the receiver to read.”

Sensitive News Is Best Told In Person

Sensitive news can change a person’s day for the worse. “Messages with emotional content are better delivered by phone, or in person. You get more information from the tone and inflection of voice, facial expressions, and body language than you do from the written word, and there’s less chance your message can be misinterpreted, or cause hurt.”

Make Sure It’s The Intended Recipient.

We’ve all been there before. In our haste to send a message, we send it to the wrong person. Often the message may contain sensitive information. Take a second, double check the recipient. 

Know Your Audience

Use proper grammar at all times. Save colloquialisms and short hand for those that you are more familiar with and personal. “Not everyone interprets shorthand well, and you want to make sure that you’re understood,” adds Senning. It’s fine to add emoticons or emojis to convey your feelings — just don’t go overboard with their use. Too many emojis can turn your text from endearing to annoying.