Usage and Grammar

Q. In running text, should “at” be included before an Instagram or Twitter handle? For example, “To learn more, tweet her @username” or “To learn more, tweet her at @username”?

A. Treat the handle as an ordinary noun and include the preposition, redundant as it may seem: “tweet her at @username.” If you were to read your example out loud, you could either emphasize the second “at” (“tweet her at at username”) or ignore it (“tweet her at username”). The first option will make it clear that you are referring to a handle as such. But a handle as handle is a special case. When you mention @Rihanna’s latest creations or an entry in @MerriamWebster—which would be read out loud as “Rihanna’s latest creations or an entry in Merriam-Webster”—the symbol is merely a tool for facilitating platform interactivity. Ignoring the at sign relative to the surrounding text allows for maximum flexibility. And these days, as any old hippie will tell you, that’s where it’s really @.