Twitter keeps pushing the envelope about the style and content of tweets. Yesterday, it launched a new feature called “line breaks” – which are exactly what they sound like, line breaks inside tweets. Here’s an example:
The announcement was made, where else, but in a tweet. The @TwitterForNews feed simply pushed out a tweet that said “Line Breaks” but with each letter on a separate line, along with the hashtag #newattwitter.
Digital Trends noted that the feature already existed in some mobile apps and desktop platforms, although many people may not have been aware of the capability. With it being launched on the Web version of the platform (what I use 85% of the time), the feature is likely be used more:
What’s worth mentioning here though is that the ability to add line breaks already exists on its mobile and desktop platforms (iOS, Android, and Twitter for Mac to be specific) so it’s a natural progression for Twitter to roll this out finally to its Web app. Twitter didn’t end up saying a peep about the feature in other devices – it was more like an Easter egg until now. But thanks to the official tweet tweet, this time around a lot more people are aware about the line break’s existence.
This feature, while not a huge deal, expands the flexibility of messages you can create on the social sharing platform. To use it, all you do is hit the Enter button to advance to a new line while composing your tweet.
Benefits of Twitter Line Breaks
We see 3 benefits of Twitter line breaks:
1.) Line breaks can be used to emphasize points — If you want to emphasize a portion of your tweet, just set it off on its own line. In a sea of over-used hashtags and what can appear to be gibberish to the uninitiated, it can be refreshing to see a word or a few set apart with some free white space around them.
2.) Twitter line breaks can make your tweets easier to read — Sometimes in order to cram in as many words as possible, people abbreviate words — to the point it feels like you’re reading hieroglyphs. But instead of abbreviating words, you can set them apart by line breaks, in lieu of some connector words or punctuation.
3.) Twitter line breaks make your tweets stand out — Line breaks give your tweets more physical space in the tweet stream, making them stand out because they look different. That can lead to more engagement.
Reaction to the move has been mixed, according to ComputerWorld, with some people predicting an explosion of line-break spam. However, I predict that once the novelty wears off, Twitter line-break spam also will die back.
This is just one more example of Twitter expanding the tweet format. Previously, Twitter added attachments to tweets, including photos and videos.
Then last summer Twitter introduced Twitter cards. Twitter cards add attachments in the form of summaries of news articles to your tweets, so that people can preview them. Here at Small Business Trends we implemented Twitter Cards just this week. We’ve already seen a small uptick in engagement with our content shared on Twitter. People can now preview links before clicking. Twitter cards also add a lot more information, including visually-interesting information, to our tweets. With a little special programming, we’ve even been able to add author bylines and author Twitter handles to tweet summaries. This gives wider visibility to our authors.
Update April 30, 2018: After 5 years of experience with Twitter line breaks, I think we can conclude two things. First, Twitter still has its share of spammers unrelated to line breaks. Second, Twitter line breaks can be an effective technique. I use them in my tweets on occasion, but certainly not all the time. Just like with animated gifs and other Twitter features, it’s a small technique that’s best not overused.
More in: Twitter
I don’t see the point in Twitter line breaks, as it goes against the succinct nature of the platform.
Already, I’ve seen people abusing the feature with ‘look at me’ Tweets, meaning that it takes longer for me to scroll through my Home Feed and Twitter Lists.
Hi Nick, I’ve been seeing some of that, too, but after the first day or two, it died down. As with most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. I will hope the incidence of “look at me” tweets happening dies down for you, too.
A line break goes against the succinct nature of the platform? Seriously? Take a deep breath, and think of something calming.
The Twitter line breaks could be a fun way of creating ASCII art! 😉
Personally, I would be a happy camper if Twitter would do something about the
Martin, I don’t think the Twitter line breaks are nearly as big a problem as some people are predicting. To me they are like upside down fonts or characters like hearts and diamonds inserted into tweets — at first they are fun but then gradually most people forget about them.
Anita: I don’t think that the line breaks will be a problem. The historical background is that Twitter was not designed for external users at the beginning. At the beginning it was a communication tool for programmers at Ev Williams’s project Odeo, and then it turned out to be popular outside this group and turned into a micro-blogging tool for the masses.
I agree with the fun factor with ASCII art put into tweet messages that probably will fade out after some time. But you never know, some tweeps out there could have a luck break with line breaks! 🙂
Btw: As a cat lover, I got curious about Small Biz Cat… 😉 I was participating at the potluck conference, WebCoast, during March 15-17, and one session was about funny cats and the Internet.
I think that this is pretty neat. I had no idea about the line breaks until now. I’m eager to go give it a try. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this with us, Anita.
Line breaks are a powerful aspect of the poetic function of language– that is, its ability to draw attention to itself. The poetic function isn’t exclusive to poetry: it is used prominently in advertising, hence the “look at me” tweets.
Used well, they add expressive power to Twitter, as can be seen in two haiku- finding literary bots:
http://leonardoflores.net/post/45754938412/tweet-haikus-by-brandon-wood and http://leonardoflores.net/post/45680960671/haikud2-by-john-burger
Very good to know about line breaks from twitter. Thank you!
Even Twitter failed with e-commerce previously when it launched a feature as “Early Bird”. The main reason behind this great failure of e-business over social media is that “people are their to communicate or chat, but not to shop.”
It’s 2018 and I have a new laptop with an American English keyboard and the latest Windows 10 Operating System. It has NO “Return” button, old typrewriter lingo. Please update this article, as it comes up at the top of Google search results for this topic.
I agree with you, Jim. Updated!
I usually use my Smith Corona when responding on Twitter which makes it difficult when I run out of paper or need a new ribbon. 🙂