Q: Text Messaging is such a common practice nowadays. Does the AP Stylebook have anything to say about it?
Yes, in addition to an entry for “text messaging/instant messaging,” AP style provides information on common practices and abbreviations. These rules can also apply to emails and social media messages, such as Twitter updates and Facebook posts. Below are five of the AP Stylebook’s definitions and my comments on them:
Definition: Got to go.
Comment: I also know people that use “GTG,” and I’ve seen both versions used to mean “good to go,” as well.
Definition: In my opinion; in my humble opinion.
Comment: I don’t know anyone that actually uses these. Texting and instant messaging communications are meant to be short, so people often say their opinion without stating that it is one. Why type an acronym, when you can just keep it out altogether?
Define: Not safe for work. Used to alert recipients that upcoming material or attachments may be objectionable in an office environment.
Comment: Be careful when opening up such messages in general. If they contain unsavory forwarded message attachments, they may also contain computer viruses.
removal of punctuation, characters
Define: It is acceptable in instant-message and texting conventions to remove punctuation and characters, most often vowels, to save time typing or thumbing in letters. Thus, a word like remember could become rmbr or American Idol could be rendered as amrcn idl.
Comment: Just think of it as coming up with new vanity license plates. (I think the advent of instant messages, etc. has actually made me better at deciphering these plates on the road!)
thx Shorthand for thanks. Also tnx.
Comment: Don’t use “tnx.” That just looks confusing to me. The point of using these abbreviations is to help people read messages quickly and easily. If you are not using commonly known shortcuts, you are just making your message harder to understand.
“The AP Stylist” is written by Sandy Young, SoCalPRBlog’s resident contributor for all things AP style. Young is a public relations account executive at J. Walcher Communications and freelance writer who resides in Alpine, Calif. (East San Diego County). She has been a member of several of San Diego’s top public relations and marketing communications agencies and has worked with high-profile clients in a wide variety of industries nationwide. Her specialties include media relations, social media marketing and new product/service launches, as well as copywriting and editing, including AP style.