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Text vs. Chat: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 8, 2023
"Text" refers to written words, while "chat" refers to an informal conversation, often through messages online.

Key Differences

Text, in its most basic definition, refers to the written words in books, magazines, or any other medium. It's also used as a verb to describe the act of sending a written message via SMS (Short Message Service) on a mobile phone. Chat, by contrast, is a verb and noun that denote engaging in an informal conversation or exchange of messages, typically in real-time via the internet or instant messaging platforms.
When someone sends a text, they are usually sending a short, concise message. Texting is a one-way communication that requires a response for the conversation to continue. Chatting, however, is more dynamic and conversational, often involving a back-and-forth exchange between two or more people. It is not limited to text as it can include multimedia such as images, videos, and emojis.
In terms of formality, "text" often conveys a neutral tone and is used in various contexts, from academic to personal. "Chat," on the other hand, suggests a casual, friendly tone and is usually personal or social. You might study a 'text' for a class, but you would 'chat' with friends about casual topics.
The evolution of communication technology has blurred the lines between text and chat. Texting has adopted features of chatting, such as group texts or the use of read receipts, and online chatting often resembles texting, especially in the context of mobile apps. Despite these similarities, the essence remains—texts are typically brief messages sent through phone networks, and chats are ongoing conversations that happen in real-time over the internet.
In practice, a "text" might be a message sent to arrange a meeting time, whereas a "chat" might be the conversation that happens during the meeting. Texts can be saved, stored, and referenced later, while chats may be ephemeral, disappearing when the chat window is closed, depending on the platform used.

Comparison Chart


SMS, written documents
Instant messaging, online platforms

Communication Style

Usually one-way or alternating
Typically two-way, real-time conversation


Neutral, can be formal or informal
Casual, informal


Concise, to the point
Dynamic, conversational


Often short and finite
Can be extended and ongoing

Text and Chat Definitions


Text is to send someone a written message via SMS.
He sent a text to confirm the appointment time.


Chat implies a live, real-time discussion.
During the live stream, viewers had a chat with the host.


Text often refers to content that is studied academically.
The professor assigned a new text for next week's discussion.


Chat means to engage in an informal conversation.
Let's have a chat over coffee tomorrow.


Text can also refer to the main body of a printed work.
The text on the last page was smudged.


Chat can also mean to talk in a friendly, informal way.
They chatted about the weather while waiting for the bus.


Text refers to written words in a document.
The text of the novel was difficult to understand.


Chat can refer to an exchange of messages online.
She stayed up late having a chat with her friend overseas.


In computing, text refers to data that is composed of characters.
The programmer wrote a script to analyze the text data.


In online games, chat refers to the dialogue box where players type messages.
The player sent a message through the game's chat feature.


The original words of something written or printed, as opposed to a paraphrase, translation, revision, or condensation.


To converse in an easy, familiar manner; talk lightly and casually.


The words of a speech appearing in print.


(Computers) To participate in a synchronous exchange of remarks with one or more people over a computer network.


What does "text" mean?

"Text" refers to written content or the act of sending a written message via SMS.

Are "texts" stored permanently?

Texts can be stored permanently, especially if they are in physical form or saved digitally.

Is "text" always digital?

No, "text" can refer to both digital and printed written words.

Can "chat" be verbal?

Yes, "chat" can refer to spoken informal conversations as well as online messaging.

How do you send a text?

You can send a text message via a mobile phone or through a texting app.

What does "chat" mean?

"Chat" means an informal conversation, often conducted in real-time via the internet.

Can texts be formal?

Yes, texts can be formal, especially in professional or academic contexts.

Are chats live?

Chats are typically live, allowing for real-time communication.

What is text analysis?

Text analysis is the process of analyzing written words to understand their meaning or context.

Can "text" mean the main body of a book?

Yes, "text" often refers to the main content of any written material.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users.

Can "text" be a verb?

Yes, "text" can be used as a verb meaning to send a text message.

How do you start a chat?

You can start a chat by using an instant messaging service or social media platform.

What is a text message?

A text message is a written message sent through a phone's SMS system.

What is a chat room?

A chat room is a virtual space on the internet where users can communicate in real time.

Can "chat" be a noun?

Yes, "chat" can be a noun referring to the act of chatting or the messages exchanged.

Do you need the internet for texting?

Traditional texting via SMS does not require the internet, but many texting apps do.

Do you need the internet for chatting?

Online chatting typically requires an internet connection.

Are chats formal?

Chats are usually informal and conversational.

Is "chat" used in business?

"Chat" can be used in business, especially for informal discussions or online customer service.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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