Why Does Twitter Have a 140 Character Limit?

I’ll admit it…I am not good at Twitter.

Rarely do I know what to tweet or when to tweet. Even when I come up with what I consider a good tweet, I often forget to use it.

I also realized that I have no concept of how many words make up 140 characters.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Twitter, the social media service limits your posts to 140 characters (letters, numbers & punctuation). You can post less than 140, but you can’t post more. No ifs, ands or buts.

For some reason I assume 140 characters allows for way more words than it actually does.

On numerous occasions I have come up with a funny, witty or interesting tweet only to find that I have gone far over the 140 character limit. Frustrated, I figure the only way to get it under 140 is to randomly cut out words and move others around. After about 5 or 6 drafts I finally get under the limit only to find that my new acceptable tweet makes no sense.

Here is a recent example…

What I wanted to tweet  –

“I just took an online survey that asked the question, “To which race do you most identify?” That’s an odd way to ask that question. Shouldn’t they just have asked, ‘What race are you.’ I wanted to answer Caucasian or marathon.

If you add it up, I am way over my character limit. After moving and cutting out words, here’s what I ended up shortening it to…

Just took a marathon survey. I am odd and white.

While that is technically not untrue, it is not really want I was trying to say.

So why does Twitter impose such a strict limit? Let’s find out in this week’s Wonder Why Wednesday.

Why Does Twitter Have a 140 Character Limit?

According to Media Bistro, the constrictive 140 character limit was created to be compatible with SMS messaging.  SMS (short message service) text messaging was created to let users send short messages to one another.

The worldwide standard length of SMS is 160 characters. The founders of Twitter decided to stay within that limit so that when tweets were sent via phone, the messages would be received in whole and not split up across multiple messages. 140 characters was chosen to allow for 20 characters for the username of the sender.

I guess that makes sense, but it doesn’t help me become a better tweeter. However it does help explain why I am also a bad text messenger.

Wonder Why Wednesday copy(Click the image above for more Wonder Why Wednesday posts.)


After years of resisting, I have finally given in and joined Twitter.

When people used to tell me that I should sign up for Twitter my response was always, “I don’t need a Twitter. Who cares what I have to say.” Now that I have started a blog, I can’t really use that excuse anymore.

I doubt that people now care what I have to say, but if I am going to write 1000 words about Willy Wonka, I might as well write 140 characters about it.

I can see the benefits of having Twitter. It is a great way to stay up-to-date on news and trends as well as connect with new people. Plus, it may be a way to grow Blog by Bake.

Michael Hyatt writes in his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World that if you want to grow your blog, you must go where the people are. And right now, the people are on Twitter.

For those of you that are already on Twitter, here is a great quote by Bill Cosby: “Kids need to remember that when you put something on Twitter, it’s not like whispering to your friend, you’ve put it on a billboard that the whole world, including your own kids someday, can see.”

I think that is a very important thing to keep in mind. Twitter can be a powerful tool. It is a free billboard that can get a message in front of thousands of people. We all just have to make sure our thoughts are something we want the world to see.

With that in mind, I hope you guys will follow me at twitter.com/blogbybake. I will do my best to bring you thoughtful, funny and clever content while at the same time keeping it clean and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

And if you have any suggestions for future tweets let me know. I am new to this and will take all the help I can get.