Texting etiquette

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Sunday 6th May 2012

My English teacher at secondary school was a stickler for doing things by the book. She was called Miss Milner and she spent hours drumming letter-writing etiquette into my class. In fact she was so thorough that all these years later I’m certain none of us ever use “yours sincerely” when it should be “yours faithfully” – and vice versa.

But after reading in today’s Mail on Sunday that texts and emails sent between David Cameron and former News International boss Rebekah Brooks will be revealed at the Leveson Inquiry this week, I’ve been wondering about text and email etiquette.

“Hi” is the universal form of address these days – and that’s fine. But what do you say when you sign off? It’s easy if you’re emailing family and friends but I’m less sure about work contacts, editors, my children’s teachers… “Yours sincerely” is ridiculously pompous, “kindest regards” doesn’t sound quite right to me and “love” is way too forward. In the end I usually settle for “best wishes” – slightly feeble, but I can’t think of anything better.

And that’s not the only conundrum. What about xs? I sign off text messages and emails to virtually everyone I know with an x or two. And when it’s my family I just hit the x button so they get a random number of xxxxxxxxxxxs.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned but it doesn’t feel right in a work context (I’m terrified, incidentally, that one day I’ll forget who I’m emailing and send an editor a long stream of xxxxxs by mistake!)

PS. How impressive is Samantha Shannon? The 20 year old Oxford undergraduate (above) has combined studying for her English degree with writing a series of futuristic adventure novels. Now she’s landed a six-figure book deal with Bloomsbury, the publisher of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, with the first novel due out in September 2013.

16 comments so far

  • For the longest (saddest) time, my younger daughter thought I was constantly cross with her because I always finished a text with a full-stop, as I would any sentence. I can’t help the full-stop, but I generally follow it with 3 Xs, the first of which is invariably a capital, because of that dratted full-stop. At least now she can be pretty sure whether or not I’m fuming at her.



    xxx – or not, obviously.

  • I so agree with you. I often don’t put a full stop at the end and then I don’t get a capital X. Funny how xxxs convey so much meaning these days.

  • So true. I also send out xxxs in abundance but I too live in fear of sending them inadvertently to an inappropriate work contact.

    xxx (obviously).

  • I’ve sent the dread x to the wrong people…you realize what you’ve done just after you’ve pushed send and nothing can be done!!!

  • Full stops, apostrophes, colons, ellipses; guilty to all, I’m afraid. I generally feel a bit self-conscious about the ‘x’s though – perhaps it’s a awkward, English bloke thing. As for the valediction, it’s nearly always ‘regards’, which covers a multitude of sins. One day I’ll get round to setting up a short cut on the iPhone for ‘I remain, sir, your most humble and obedient servant,’. I think the spotty teen at the bank would like that.

  • So true! I find this particularly tricky at work – best wishes over and over again feels a bit silly but xs feel unprofessional – it would be great to find a solution that’s in between the two! As for texting – I am always putting too many xs or none at all by accident – so easy to press send without thinking!

  • Karen’s comment made me laugh…
    I feel very ‘old’ in that I do tend to NOT abbreviate and use full stops and commas etc (although I am partial to the odd …..)
    And I’m a bit of a ‘Best Regards’ kindofa gal.

  • I’m still stuck with letter-writing problems. I had a write a note to the Teen’s form tutor this week and felt rather strange addressing him as Dear Mr -, seems a bit too familiar for use with teachers. “Hi, Sir” doesn’t feel right either.

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