This resource will overview Twitter. We will define some key terms, explain how to navigate the homepage, and break down the different components of a tweet.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a free social networking platform where users can post short statuses called ‘tweets’. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, including links. By default, all Twitter profiles and tweets are public which allows users to connect across the world to talk about topical issues.

Twitter’s homepage can be found at

What can you use Twitter for?

Twitter can be used like any other social network, in that you can share your thoughts, ideas and opinions with others.

A Twitter account can also contribute to your learning and online presence. Take a look at our ‘Developing a Personal Learning Network’ and ‘Managing Your Online Presence’ resources to learn more.

Setting up your Twitter account

On the Twitter homepage, click on the ‘Sign up’ button to start the process of signing up, and follow the prompts that appear.

Here are some key terms that will help clarify what is being asked:

  • Full name: This name will appear on your profile/tweets next to your username. If you do not want your Twitter feed to come up on a Google search of your name, do you not use your real or full name.
  • Username: This will be your ‘Twitter Handle’. This is the name users will use to tag you in tweets/pictures
    NOTE: Both these names can be changed at any point.

Glossary of terms


Direct Message

A direct message is a private message sent directly between two or more users You can access your direct messages by clicking on the ‘Messages’ button in the Top Menu.


Liking a tweet is a way of telling the user who tweeted that you like their tweet, or to let them know you have read it. To favourite a tweet, click on the ‘liketwitter heart button at the bottom of the tweet.


The act of clicking follow. By following a user, their tweets will show up in your timeline. You can follow a user by clicking the follow button on their profile.


Hashtags are words or phrases without spaces, preceded by the pound (#) symbol, #likethis. They are used to sort and easily find information. Anything can be a hashtag! You can click on a hashtag to view a feed of tweets with the same hashtag or search for a tweet with the hashtag in it using the search bar.


A moment is a quick text-based overview of a news story or event, followed by selected tweets and other media relevant to the issue. The Moments tab shows you a collection of the ‘best stories’ on Twitter, as determined by the company and select partners.


A list is a curated group of Twitter users. You can create your own lists as well as subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of tweets from only the users on that list.


A retweet is where someone shares your tweet with their own followers and vice versa. The tweet will display with their username and profile picture, and will be attributed to them. You can retweet a tweet by clicking on the ‘retweettwitter recycle button below a tweet.


The feed of tweets from accounts you have chosen to follow. You can access your Twitter timeline by clicking on the ‘Home’ button in the Top Menu.


A tweet is a 140-character post or status update. Tweets make up the body of Twitter – it is how you communicate with other users.


If you want a particular account to be notified of your tweet, you need to type @ followed by their username in the body of the tweet. This is also referred to as a ‘mention’.

Navigating Twitter

Twitter layout


Top Menu

The Top Menu in Twitter contains the ‘Home’, ‘Moments’, ‘Notifications’, and ‘Messages’ tab as well as the search bar, ‘Profile and Settings’ button and ‘Compose New Tweet’ button.

  • The ‘Home’ tab returns you to the Twitter homepage when you are logged in (see above).
  • The ‘Moments’ tab displays Twitter’s curated feed of current events and news.
  • The ‘Notifications’ tab displays all the notifications you have received, including new follows, retweets and favourites.
  • The ‘Messages’ tab will open a small window displaying your direct messages.
  • The search bar lets you search Twitter using keywords, hashtags or usernames.
  • The ‘Profile and Settings’ button opens a menu containing options to view your lists, change your settings and log out.
  • The ‘Compose New Tweet’ button opens a small window with room for you to type your tweet and add any attachments.

Twitter Timeline

Your Twitter Timeline is a feed of tweets from the users you follow, as well as promoted tweets from companies.

Your Profile

Clicking on the relevant section in the Profile section allows you to quickly jump to your Twitter profile, a list of your followers or a list of accounts you follow.

Different components of a Tweet

A tweet can be made up of many components. Using the example from UOW below, we will break down each component and what it means, as well as detail the function of the collection of buttons below the tweet, which we will collectively refer to as interactivity buttons.

twitter tweet



The handle of the author of the tweet is listed at the top of the tweet. In this case, it is UOW @UOW.

Tweet body

The body of the tweet is the text that appears in this image in black. In this case it is ‘Join us on the livestream ... at Saturday’s’.


The hashtag in this tweet is ‘#TEDxUWollongongWomen’. Viewers could click on this hashtag to see more tweets containing the hashtag.


This tweet mentions another account on Twitter - TEDxUWollongong. To notify TEDxUWollongong of this tweet, and to make it easier for viewers to visit TEDxUWollongong’s page, the author of the tweet has included the @ symbol before the username.


This tweet also includes a shortlink. On Twitter every character counts, including URLs. Shortlinks are used to shorten long URLs so that they can fit into character limit of a tweet. To generate a shortlink you can use a generator like Bitly.

Interactivity buttons

Below every tweet there will be a series of buttons for you to interact with it. These buttons include:

  • The ‘Reply’ button, which allows you to compose a tweet in response. The author of the initial tweet will be notified that you have responded to them.
  • The ‘Retweet’ button, which allows you to retweet the tweet. You can add a comment to the tweet that will appear alongside it. The author of the initial tweet will be notified you have retweeted them.
  • The ‘Like’ button, which allows you to like the tweet. The author of the tweet will be notified you have liked it.
  • The ‘More’ button, which contains options for you to share the tweet, and mute, block or report the tweet.

Further resources