Twitter List 101: A Basic Tutorial

How to Create a Twitter List and Manage It Smartly

A Twitter list is a useful feature for organizing tweet-reading.

A list on the messaging network is nothing fancy-- just a group of Twitter user names. Each user is allowed to create up to 1,000 Twitter lists; each can have up to 5,000 @user names on it.

The purpose of Twitter lists is to help guide messages and conversations on the micro-messaging service and organize the way people follow tweets or conversations.

Organize by Topics, Categories

A Twitter list, for example, can categorize interesting Twitter users into groups. That allows you to see tweets from a group of people in individual tweet timelines, without having to put them all together into your own timeline of people you follow. In other words, you can see all the tweets from people in a Twitter list without having to pull their tweets into your main tweetstream.

When you click on a list name, a timeline of tweets appears with all of the messages from the people you've included in that list.

For example, you might have a list of your real friends on Twitter. Click on that list name and voila, you'll see all your friends' updates in one timeline.

If you're a Web designer and are interested in, say, web startups, HTML5 coding and interactivity, you might create separate lists for people who tweet about each of those subjects.

Public vs. Private List

You can choose to make your lists public or private.

Some people create public ones to help other folks find interesting people to follow.

Others keep theirs private because their main purpose in creating lists is simply to read tweets in a more organized fashion. If you create a private list, it means you're the only one who can see it. That's different than "protected tweets," which can be seen by anyone you give permission to.

Private lists are totally private.

ListSize Limits

As previously stated, each list is allowed to have up to 5,000 people on it. Each user is allowed to create up to 500 lists on Twitter.

The maximum number of characters in a list name is 25, and those names cannot start with a number.

The utility of Twitter lists is hard to understand until you start creating them.

How to Create a New Twitter List

There are many ways to create a new one. You can access the list-management tool from the profile page of anyone you want to put on a list, or from your tweet timeline, or by clicking "lists" in the pull-down menu in the horizontal menu at the top of pages on Twitter.com (See the image at the top of this page.)

Clicking "lists" in the top horizontal menu bar leads to your own personal Twitter list page. It shows all the lists you have created personally and also any lists created by other users to which you have subscribed. Click "create list" to start a new one.

Let's start with someone you want to add. Remember, you can create and manage lists from other people's profile pages or from within a tweet timeline.

Click on any person's Twitter username shown in your tweet timeline. You will see the person icon with a little down arrow next to the "Follow" or "Following" button in the middle of the box that pops up showing that person's profile.

Click the down arrow beside the shadowy person icon, and a dropdown menu will appear. Click "Add or Remove from Lists" and a popup will display all of your Twitter lists by name. Select the one you want to add the person to or click "Create a list" at the very bottom of the box.

If you clicked "Create a list," then fill out the form that appears with a title (up to 25 characters) and description (up to 99 characters.) Then check the "public" or "private" box to determine whether other Twitter users can see and follow your list.

You can add any Twitter user to your list whose tweets are public, by the way.

You don't have to follow a user to put him or her on your list. At any point, they can, however, choose to block you as a user, which would effectively delete them from your list.

This article can help you find people on Twitter to add to your Twitter lists.

Editing a List of User Names

Once you have created your Twitter list, it's easy to edit. You can add or delete people from your list by checking or unchecking their name. You can do this from the list drop-down on any user's profile. This includes profile pages, follower lists, even people search results.

Subscribing to Someone Else's List

It's easy to subscribe to a list that someone else has created. You just navigate to the page for it and click the "subscribe" button below the list name. It's similar to "following" an individual user, only the tweets from people on the list don't show up in your personal timeline of tweets. Rather, you have to click the list to see all the related tweets, or if you're using a Twitter dashboard client, you should create a column views.

Reading Tweets from Your Lists

To see the tweets from all the folks on one of your lists, click "Lists" from the pulldown menu in the top horizontal bar, then click on the name of any list.

When you click on one, you'll see all the tweets from everyone included. Note that this is a separate timeline from your personal timeline.

Get Help From Twitter

Twitter's own help center has a good page explaining how to manage and troubleshoot a Twitter list.