[1] For a few years now, businesses have used text messaging to reach their customers, and it’s now more common to text your boss, team members, and colleagues. But if you want to avoid annoying your contacts or causing offence, it’s important to learn the rules of business texting etiquette.

Avoid Abbreviations

When you send a single text, you only have a limited number of characters to convey your message; longer messages will be split up into pieces. That’s why you use abbreviations when doing personal texts.  However, there are some issues with using abbreviations professionally:

  • Abbreviations look casual and are not businesslike.
  • Some colleagues (especially if they’re older) may not understand the abbreviations.
  • Some abbreviations may not cross cultural boundaries, which is an issue if you’re working with a multilingual team.
  • In most cases, it’s just as easy to type out the entire word, particularly if you’re using a mobile keyboard with a good autocomplete function.

Avoid Emoticons

Emoticons are very casual. They can help to soften the tone of a text message, but they’re not businesslike and your audience may not take you seriously if you use them.

Watch your Tone

Given the brevity of text messages, it’s relatively easy to sound curt and abrupt. Take some time to craft your message so you say what you need to say without offending the recipient.

Check Your Language

When composing text messages for business, watch your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Misspelled words and poor punctuation create a bad impression. Proofread your message to eliminate errors before you hit send. Pay particular attention to autocorrect and autocomplete fails. Pay attention to what you’re typing and make sure any correction actually says what you meant to say. Similarly, if you’re texting by voice, check the message before sending, as there’s no guarantee it will actually be correct.

Check the Recipient

The autocorrect functions on your phone are great, but can lead to confusion if contacts have similar names. Check that your message is going to the right person or people before you send it. That way you won’t waste your time or accidentally send information to the wrong person.

Sign your Messages

In a business texting situation, you can’t be sure that the recipient has your contact details. If they don’t know who you are, they might ignore the message. So add your name or initials at the end of the message to make it clear who the sender is.

Check Preferred Media & Obtain Permission

Check to see if texting related to work is an acceptable communication medium in your organization or group. To text business contacts outside the organization, ask for permission first, and then text only those who agree to text. (Note that if you send texts and get emails in return, it may be a sign that your audience is not comfortable with texts.) Also, make sure you have permission to add people to a contact group before you send the first text.

Text During Business Hours

Don’t assume that because people text all of the time that it’s okay to text in a professional situation outside of business hours. Your audience may be annoyed at the intrusion on their personal time, and even if they are not annoyed, they may not remember the text when they return to work.

Send a Text Message Only Once

When you’ve sent a text, don’t keep re-sending if the person doesn’t respond immediately. It just means that the person hasn’t checked their phone. Give the recipient enough time to see the message and respond.  If your texts to a particular audience are regularly not responded to, perhaps texting isn’t the right communication method for a particular colleague or a particular situation.

Don’t Text During a Meeting

Even if the text is professionally-related, do not text during a meeting.  It’s rude to others in the meeting. If there is a situation that requires you to check your phone during a business occasion, inform others at the start with a brief explanation.


[1] Information on this page of Communications for Professionals is adapted from the WikiHow page, How to Write a Business Text Message. Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-SA. See Licenses and Attributions.