Quotations and Dialogue

Q. How should text message conversations be styled within a story to distinguish them from normal dialogue? I already use italics for internal thoughts, and it might be confusing to use the same technique for text messages. I also use quotes with italics when a character is thinking about another person’s dialogue. Would reading a text message be akin to that? Or can I just make up something completely different (e.g., < how r u >)?

A. Unless a designer wants to create a special typography for text messages (as is sometimes done in books for children and young adults), just use quotation marks. It’s never been considered necessary to have a separate style for phone conversations, email, or other types of communication, and texts are nothing new in this regard. The context should make it clear: “how r u,” he texted; “ha ha Daddy I can’t believe you use ‘r u,’” she replied.