Twitter 102: Quoting a Tweet
Sunday September 22nd 2013, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Note: This post is specifically designed for those using the twitter app (although it could be useful for anyone). The screenshots are meant as a guide for text; they are web screenshots, but this post is for mobile users.

Another note: This post is for tweets that are not directed at you and don’t @mention your handle. We’ll tackle those options in another post. And, the first two options are for tweets much shorter than 140 characters. Scroll down for tips on longer tweets.

You already know about “retweets” – click the buttons and having an original tweet show up as-written, on your timeline. But sometimes you want to add your own opinion, or you want to see peoples’ reactions to you posting a tweet. A retweet simply won’t do – here’s a quick guide of how to properly “quote a tweet”.

So you see a tweet, and you like it! You want to editorialize and share it with your followers.

Backblogged: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week

You have some options!


When you click on “Quote tweet,” in your twitter app, here’s what shows up:

"@NewYorker: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week"

Looks pretty good. You are free to add whatever you want. It’s customary to add to the beginning of the tweet, but some folks add to the end when using quotation marks. Here are two examples of folks who quoted this tweet correctly:

:) “@NewYorker: Backblogged: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week ”

“@NewYorker: Backblogged: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week ” Great sentences indeed!

You already know why you want to quote a tweet – you have something to add to it. But it’s also useful because it’s more personal than a regular retweet. When you quote a tweet, the original tweeter is more likely to see what you said.

Why is important to quote a tweet in the correct format? First of all, it ensures that your followers know where the original tweet started and ended, and where your editorializing began. Second of all, it maintains the integrity of the original tweet – you shouldn’t be fiddling around inside of those quotation marks. And, it makes you look like you know what you’re doing!



There is another option for quoting a tweet, and it’s useful for other reasons. Since the Android app default is to quote tweets in the way described above, that will be your best and easiest bet. But what if the tweet is too long? What if there’s a part of it that you don’t need? That’s where a “RT” or “MT” version of quoting a tweet can be useful.

If you had chosen to quote the above tweet using the “RT” method, you would’ve gotten rid of the quotation marks, and added “RT” and a colon after the name. The text would’ve come out looking like this:

RT @NewYorker: Backblogged: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week

You’ve seen this before – that’s because some apps quote tweets in this method as the default. Sometimes, folks are copying and pasting tweets and editing them to fit this mold, but I think you mostly see this because some apps or clients quote tweets in this format as the default. If you were using this method, you could still editorialize, as long as you don’t change what comes after the tweet (Or you make it very clear that the original tweet is ending and the editorializing is beginning, which is difficult and I don’t recommend):

Why football players run so "fiercely" and more RT @NewYorker: Backblogged: Our Five Favorite Sentences of the Week

So check it out – the above example does the same thing as our tweets using “Option 1” above. It maintains the integrity of the tweet (he didn’t add anything after the tweet), and it allows you to add your own two cents. Good job.

Those are your only two options for quoting an unmodified tweet: QUOTES or RT. Option #1 or Option #2. You can’t mince them. You have to pick one.

If you’re using the Android app, you have no good reason to quote a tweet in the “RT” method, since the default for the app uses quotation marks. UNLESS you are changing or shortening the tweet…!



Sometimes, when you go ahead and try to quote a tweet, you are already over 140 characters (That’s because the twitter handle and other punctuation is added to the character count). You’ve seen this happen. It’s sad. Let’s use another New Yorker tweet for this example (a longer one):

In this week's Comment, George Packer writes about the complexities of a diplomatic response to the Syrian conflict:

When I tried to quote this tweet, it was already too long 🙁

"@NewYorker: In this week's Comment, George Packer writes about the complexities of a diplomatic response to the Syrian conflict:"
What can you do? You’re going to have to change the tweet, AND get rid of those quotation marks. Using the quotation marks method only works if you aren’t modifying the tweet. If you’re changing the original tweet, you got to change to the second method — with a caveat. If you’re changing the tweet, you have to use “MT” and not “RT” (Modified Tweet vs ReTweet).

Here’s how I would do it:

Great piece! MT ‏@NewYorker: George Packer writes about the complexities of a diplomatic response to Syria:

See what I did there? I editorialized at the beginning of the tweet, I took out the introducing clause, and changed “The Syrian conflict” to just “Syria”. I didn’t change the meaning of the tweet, I didn’t take out anything integral to the tweet, but I fiddled with it to make it fit. And since I fiddled with it, I used “MT” instead of “RT”. Here’s a guy who did this correctly:

Oh, goodie. MT @NewYorker George Packer weighs the potential risks and benefits of U.S. intervention in #Syria:

And that’s all you need to know about quoting tweets! You can use quotation marks and editorialize before or after them (without changing anything side of them), you could take out the quotes, add in “RT”, and editorialize before the tweet begins (without changing the original tweet), or you could modify the tweet, and use “MT” instead of “RT”.

Now you’re an expert! You did it! Go forth and tweet!

1 Comment so far
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yo sammy, I’m thinking about getting into the twitter game but all the good handles are taken. any suggestions?

Comment by Tim 09.24.13 @ 3:51 pm

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