Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Important Guidelines About Texting

18 texting etiquette rules.

Key points

  • Texting can sometimes lead to significant social difficulty.
  • Avoid texting that could generate a negative emotional response.
  • Avoid texting about important relationship issues.
  • Avoid mystery texts such as “Please call me,” without providing further information.
Source: Fizkes/Shutterstock

Texting is part of life in the 21st century. However, some of the teenagers with whom I interact as part of my counseling practice have gotten into significant social difficulties that could have been avoided had they followed some important guidelines about texting safely and wisely.

In this blog post I review the guidelines I encourage my patients to follow.

Good Topics for Texting

  • Confirmation of meeting times.
  • Letting someone know you are running late.
  • Requesting a brief amount of information, such as an address.
  • Requesting permission for a phone call. It’s polite to do so, especially if someone has contacted you by text, because you do not know if they are able to answer a call.
  • Description of one’s location.
  • To let someone know you’re okay.

Topics That Should be Avoided Through Texting

  • Any topic that could generate a negative emotional response, such as bad news. In such situations an in-person interaction is of much greater benefit as non-verbal cues can be noticed and addressed. These cues include the tone of voice, facial appearance, eye gaze, gestures, body posture, and touch.
  • If you receive a text with difficult news, avoid making assumptions about the state of mind of the text sender, especially since you do not have access to their non-verbal cues. Instead, offer to interact in-person as soon as possible.
  • To let someone know that you’re not okay, if there is another way to communicate. In such a situation the recipient of the text should have immediate questions that may be better handled by a telephone call or in-person interaction.
  • To talk about important relationship topics, including when you are first establishing a relationship.
  • To say something that would be embarrassing or hurtful if it was not kept private. Texts can easily be shown to others.
  • As an introduction of yourself to anyone you do not personally know such as a prospective employer, as you do not know whether that individual feels comfortable with texting.

When Not to Text

  • While driving. A momentary glance at a text can lead to a serious accident.
  • While at the movies, as this is distracting to other movie goers.
  • While in class, as this is distracting from your education.
  • For personal reasons while on the job.
  • During meals with others, as mealtimes can be a very important time for in-person social interactions.
  • While someone is talking to you, as this appears to be disrespectful or imply that you are disinterested in what is being said.

Texting Etiquette Rules

  1. When texting to keep in touch such as within a family or in a dating relationship, ensure that both people who are texting like the frequency of texting.
  2. During a frequent texting interaction if you need to be away from your phone for an extended period, let the other party know.
  3. Don’t text after 10 pm, unless the other person agrees. If sending texts or receiving them is costing you sleep, sign off from texting at bedtime.
  4. Whenever it is practical, respond to let the other party know that you have received the text.
  5. Stay calm if you do not receive an immediate response.
  6. Keep texts short, if possible. Many people do not like reading lengthy texts. Check with the recipient regarding the length of texts they like. Alternatively, match the length of the recipient’s texts.
  7. Unless it’s an emergency avoid using mystery texts such as, “Please call me.” Instead, you might add a bit about the topic of the proposed conversation.
  8. Double check to whom you are sending a text when you first start a text chain. Texting the wrong individual can create embarrassment or even anger.
  9. Double check your autocorrect.
  10. Avoid using emojis to express important emotions.
  11. Do not use all capital letters. These make it seem as if you are shouting.
  12. Avoid abbreviations if they are not commonly used.
  13. Avoid sarcasm, as you do not know how it will be read, and therefore might be misunderstood. Misunderstandings are more likely to occur since the recipient is unable to assess your non-verbal cues. Further, as you cannot gauge their response in real time you do not have a chance to immediately correct a misunderstanding.
  14. Avoid texting when you are very emotional or at other times when you are not clear-headed, e.g., high or drunk. It’s harder to take back your texted words than if you talked about your feelings.
  15. Don’t say something by text that you would not say verbally.
  16. Do not reply to phishing texts, such as “Your Amazon account has been hacked and you must respond immediately.”
  17. In a group text, introduce everyone. If you are participating in a group text and want to speak with someone individually, contact them outside of the group chat. Avoid one-word answers in a group text, which can be annoying. If you leave a group text, consider letting people know.
  18. If you receive an erroneous text let the other person know.


Keeping etiquette in mind while communicating through texting helps ensure that the quality of the interactions is helpful.