What’s the Point? A Study of Full-Stop Use in Text Messages in Varying Emotional Contexts

Andrew Albritton 1 *
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1 Missouri State University, USA
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 12, Issue 1, Article No: e202203. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/11431
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Because of the pervasiveness of the text messaging medium, further understanding of meaning-making practices in text messages is desirable. This study offers new knowledge of the potential uses and meanings of the full-stop in text messages. Although the full-stop has become infamous for its potential negative connotations in text messages, few studies have evaluated uses of the full-stop in varied emotional contexts. For this study, text message Discourse Completion Tasks (DCTs) detailing different emotional contexts were given to undergraduate students. The uses of full-stops in the text message responses elicited with the DCTs were evaluated via two methods of analysis. First, a basic content analysis was conducted for the purpose of understanding the relative uses of the full-stop in the differing emotional contexts. Second, a semiotic analysis was conducted to understand more fully how exactly the elicited full-stops were deployed and what meanings they might convey. It was concluded that the full-stop is not always a device with a negative connotation, and that, in certain circumstances, the full-stop may be seen as more appropriate than other punctuation marks. It may even be seen as a conveyer of formality, seriousness, or earnestness. The study offers practical knowledge of how a certain typographical device is used, as well as the more theoretical knowledge that punctuation devices, like words, can possess a certain semiotic elasticity: their uses and meanings can vary, depending on the contexts in which they are deployed and the people who write and read them.


Albritton, A. (2022). What’s the Point? A Study of Full-Stop Use in Text Messages in Varying Emotional Contexts. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 12(1), e202203. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/11431