In the early days of Twitter, it was commonplace for people not to just reply to Tweets they liked, but to forward that Tweet on to their own followers by simply copying the text in the original Tweet and pasting it in a new Tweet. This practice grew to be known as retweeting (RT for short) and was so popular that Twitter built that functionality directly into their interface.
Retweeting a link
To retweet a link, follow these steps:
Find the word Retweet and the Retweet icon on the tweet that you’d like to forward to your followers.
Click the word Retweet or the two-bent-arrows icon.
A confirmation dialog box pops up.
That Tweet will be forwarded to your followers.
To your followers, that Tweet looks as though it came from the person who wrote the Tweet in the first place, complete with his avatar picture and username. To credit you for the retweet, Twitter places your name directly above the original writer’s name and specifies that you retweeted the Tweet.
If the user has marked her updates as private, you won’t see the word Retweet, and clicking the Retweet icon won’t do anything. You could technically retweet her by copying and pasting, but unless you’ve gotten her specific permission to share what she wrote, you’re violating her privacy and copyright by doing so. You’re also just not being nice.
Retweeting the old-fashioned way
Although the Retweet feature is pretty neat, some users prefer the old way of doing things. To retweet someone’s Tweet the old-fashioned way, simply retype or copy and paste that Tweet into any tweeting window and add characters to format it, like so:
RT @dummies This Tweet was written so you can practice retweeting.
Twitter etiquette strongly dictates that you make every effort to credit the original author of the Tweet. Because many will only read the beginning of the Tweet and ignore the end of it, anything in parentheses, and so on, it’s more polite to recognize the speaker up front.
Retweeting the old-fashioned way has some advantages. One compelling reason is that users can comment on the original message. If you use Twitter’s built-in retweet function, that’s not possible because the original message is preserved and forwarded as-is. Therefore, to add commentary, you must either write it in another Tweet and link to the original, or use the old RT method if there’s room for comment.
For example, one might imagine the following (fictional) exchange:
@neilarmstrong: That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Only to be retweeted with addendum:
@buzzaldrin: That was supposed to be “a man.” Sheesh! RT @neilarmstrong That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
When you’re quoting someone, such as a line he wrote in an article or a phrase he spoke at a live event, you should simply use quotes around his words, and keep it short enough that you can follow the quotes with his username. Try this from comedian Louis C.K.:
Notice, a link was provided so that readers can see more context for the quote, and in this case watch a typography experiment video of the interview the quote comes from.