The structure of a tweet is a bit of an enigma for plenty of Twitter newbies. And a retweet? Even more confusing.

But there are a few best practices when it comes to formatting your retweets, and they’re actually very simple once you get the hang of them.

Retweeting is a key part of participating on Twitter. It is basically like forwarding someone else’s tweet to your followers, while giving you the option to add your own commentary.

It’s debatable whether a retweet actually endorses the content of the original tweet, but it does pass along information to your followers. And in order to discuss that information – either by asking your followers what they think, adding your opinion or explaining it in detail – you need to understand how to format your retweets properly.

So what signifies a retweet? If you ever see a tweet with “RT” somewhere in it, you know it’s a retweet. Simple as that!

To format your retweets correctly, be sure that the “RT” precedes the username of the individual who tweeted the original message, with the message directly following the username. You can add your comments to the tweet at the beginning, just before the “RT”.

To clarify, here’s the basic structure of a retweet:

“[Your comments here] RT @username [original content]“

And if you’re not adding a comment, just start the retweet with “RT”.

Now, this assumes you’re not using Twitter’s native retweet method – which does not allow you to add a comment to the beginning of the tweet, and displays in your followers’ timelines as if it was sent by the original tweeter. Most people prefer using old-style retweets which include the “RT” and allow for editing.

In order to bypass Twitter’s native retweet method, you can either use a tool like HootSuite, or try this plugin to get old style retweets on

And as a note: You don’t want to begin a tweet with your commentary if you are sending a reply to someone. A reply must have the username first, in order for it to be considered a reply directly to that person.

(Man thinking image via Shutterstock)