In ancient times (circa 1995), so-called “cell phones” were designed exclusively for making phone calls. But these days we spend a lot more time typing on our smartphones than talking.
We use our mobile devices for everything—texting, email, posting to social media, Slacking with coworkers, commenting on our favorite blogs, and flirting with our latest matches. There’s even a growing number of authors tapping out entire novels on their mobile devices.
While the list of things we don’t do on our smartphones continues to shrink, writing on a mobile device still has its own set of challenges. So today we’re sharing five common mistakes (and how to avoid them) so you can always show up as your best self—even when you’re writing on mobile.
1 Bad Grammar
That feeling when autocorrect does the wrong ‘its’ in a reply to someone with a huge following… pic.twitter.com/gWy8m1zbGl
— Young Crone (@ThrupennyBit) October 7, 2017
There’s just no context where blatant grammar errors will make you look good. Whether you’re texting with your mom (or your crush), emailing your boss, or crafting a witty retort on Twitter—good grammar matters.
Unfortunately, typing on a tiny touch screen can be . . . challenging. Typos abound. And when autocorrect kicks in, the results can get embarrassing.
The solution? Slow down and proofread your messages before you hit “send.” Did your phone’s autocorrect change “baked” to “naked”? Did you type “their” when you should have used “they’re”?
If you don’t have the time to proofread your texts, or you don’t trust yourself to catch every error, download the free Grammarly keyboard for your iPhone. We’ll do the proofreading for you as you type (just like on your web browser) so you can elevate your mobile writing to the same quality as what you produce on your Mac or PC.
2 Keeping It (Too) Casual
We’re so used to sending casual messages to friends and family that it’s easy to forget the need for formalities in more official communication—such as answering work emails.
Writing on a mobile device does not give you a pass to be unprofessional. When you pick up your phone, remind yourself which audience you’re writing for. Are you texting your buddy about evening plans, or are you responding to a client’s question?
A “formal” message has five distinct parts: salutation, opening line, body content, call to action, sign-off.
Welcome to round one of your product rebrand! (Opening Line: addresses why you’re writing)
Here’s what our team came up with… (Body Content: your main message!)
Let me know which of these options is your favorite. (Call to Action: what you need from them)
Thanks so much for your feedback! (Sign-off: show your appreciation and sign your name)
If writing a formal message on your mobile device feels too complicated, wait until you can get back to your laptop or desktop to craft your message.
3 Convoluted Text Messages
If your text message is longer than my iPhone 6 screen.. You should probably just call me.. Holy cow #longtext
— stephanie morrison (@smorrison627) March 23, 2016
We all just want to be understood. Increase your success rate (in life, love, and business) by writing messages that are clear and concise.
Lengthy, rambling text messages viewed on the tiny screen of your mobile device are not a great way to communicate. Especially when your novel-length missive gets broken into multiple messages that arrive jumbled in the wrong order.
Do everyone a favor by keeping things simple, and if it’s too complicated to communicate over text—don’t. Send an email or ask if you can call.
For specific examples of how to improve your texting game, click here.
4 Too Much Text-Speak
There is no excuse for #textspeak in a world of #autocomplete. #tech #grammar pic.twitter.com/75uvFKqoLr
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) December 23, 2013
The opposite of the dreaded “rambling text” is the message that’s been shortened into obscurity using “text-speak.”
You may have spent your youth tapping out “wut r u ^ 2?” on your phone’s numeric keypad, but technology and the etiquette of mobile communication have since evolved.
So if your opening line to potential dates is still “hey, r u frE 2nt?”, I’ve got bad news. Research conducted by dating sites Match.com and Zoosk have found that bad grammar is a significant turn-off for the majority of their users—both women and men.
Your flagrant use of text-speak isn’t impressing anyone, and you’re likely coming off as childish or uneducated. Instead, show up as your best self by using your device’s qwerty keyboard to write complete words and sentences with punctuation.
5 Overusing Emojis
Emoji-use is another classic case of “know thy audience.”
They’re easy to access through your smartphone’s keyboard, and can be a great tool for enhancing written communication, but they are not appropriate in every context and can even have negative consequences when used in the workplace.
While you’re safe using emojis in messages to friends and family, research has shown it’s a bad idea to send them to your boss and work superiors, clients, and coworkers you’re not close with.
Instead, focus on writing messages that are clear and unambiguously worded so they don’t need the assistance of emojis to convey their meaning.