Digital Communication Rules—And How to Break Them

2 min read

When it comes to the written word, standard punctuation and grammar rules reign. But in terms of everyday and on-the-go correspondence via email, texts, and social media posts, it’s OK (even encouraged) to bend those rules. From commas and capitals to emojis and abbreviations, here are five digital habits to help dial up your quick comms cred.

Ending Punctuation

Punctuation is key in professional correspondence, but when it comes to texting, some find the practice a bit abrupt. While large blocks of text with nary a comma or period in sight are overwhelming, the finality of a period may add an unintended brusque tone. When texting, line breaks or just a new text can help keep the conversation flowing.

Excessive Punctuation

While one period might be too much, a string of exclamation points might be just enough. To communicate a promotion, a new engagement, or any other happy development, multiple exclamation points give the appropriate level of (silent) communication. But if the outreach or response doesn’t necessitate loads of enthusiasm, it’s typically understood that multiple anything in written form comes off as a bit intense. As always, know your audience, and type accordingly.

All (Or Any) Caps

There’s a reason so little is written in all caps these days. Unless it’s a billboard or TOP SECRET WARNING, it’s just … loud. When dealing with informal missives between friends and family, ensure your caps lock is off, especially if you’re a fast texter. If you’re adamant about driving home a word or a point, try a subtler keyboard function (e.g. sandwiching with the asterisk symbol) — a system made easier in email with options like italicizing and underlining. If ALL CAPS makes it easier for you to see, consider setting your devices to a larger font setting and leave the shouting behind.


Some digital-world abbreviations are ubiquitous (LOL, JK, BRB, NM), but newer terms can look like alphabet soup. As a general rule of (texting) thumb, you should try to keep things spelled out in any professional context (e.g. bosses, clients, and colleagues), whereas you can welcome a little shorthand with your squad — family, friends, and folks with whom you gather on the reg.

Finding the Perfect (Functional) Emoji

If you’re seeking a little extra digital charisma, don’t forget the emoji keyboard — a modern-day visual thesaurus. From the smileys that go far beyond smiling (Eyes-wide embarrassed? Jazz-hands excited?) to the objects that point toward a wide array of outings and life happenings (such as a “happy hour” martini glass or “girls getaway” airplane), consider much of your social chatter covered, all with a few tiny cartoons.

Featured image credit: Inside Creative House/ iStock

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