How to Say What You Mean in 140 Characters or Less

by JoJo Tabares

Are you a Twitterer or on Facebook?  If you Twitter, you know how difficult it can be to Say What You Mean when you only have 140 characters in which to do it.  For those not taking advantage of this exciting new social networking site, you may need to read that again!  I didn’t say 140 words.  I said 140 CHARACTERS!  Now you’re gettin’ it!

One hundred and forty characters may sound like a lot, but this is 140 characters:

Running today.  I have a 10am phone meeting then I gotta get school done so we can have a picnic in the park with our new home school group.

After being a Twitterer for a few months now, I have become adept at getting my point across in 140 characters or less.  One Twitterer commented on how effective I am at using all 140 characters as there are many times when my post is exactly 140 characters long!  A few Twitterers, knowing that I teach communication skills, have asked me to write on the topic.  So here are some…

Tips for Saying What You Mean in 140 Characters or Less!

There are several techniques I employ in effectively using my 140 characters on Twitter.  Here are a few and the pros and cons of each one.

1. To Be Continued…
One of the techniques I see used on Twitter is the To Be Continued Method.  If you just have too much to say, you can employ this technique but I would suggest you do it only if you are a fast typist!  It is difficult to keep a reader’s train of thought going if your post series is interrupted by other posts that have nothing to do with yours. This can be especially frustrating if too many posts are able to slip in between your part three and part four and again before part five or was that six?

The best way to use this technique is to type quickly so they are found one right after another and have a maximum of two posts.  If you are taking too long to post part two, you can reference some of part one in your part two so readers can more easily put your Twitter Post Puzzle together.

2. I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Spaces!

Nobody is grading this so some of the rules you learned in the dark ages for writing formal letters will have to be thrown out the window!  If you only have enough characters left for one space between sentences, just put one.  If you don’t have room for ANY, well…  You get the idea.  Just make sure that if you don’t use spaces, you DO use punctuation!  Otherwise nobody will know where one sentence ends and the other begins.

I’d love to see that movie when it comes out I have my test on Friday

3. The Eboniks Post
That brings us to another rule breaker.  The Texting Technique.  If U R going 2 use shortcuts in order 2 cut dwn on the # of characters U use…U bttr make shur ppl will undrstd it…

B4 U ht snd, btr ck ovr 2 m sur U cnB undrsd R ppl w/B rly frtrtd tyg 2 fgr ot ? U js sd

4. Say No to Prepositions and Articles
In order to save precious characters, it’s best to leave out certain prepositions, pronouns and articles that are not necessary to the understanding of the post.  Just make sure you don’t leave out so many words that your message is incomprehensible.

Not going to meeting today. Sick!

5. Link It!
If you have something to say that just cannot be done in 140 characters, you might want to post a link to a blog post that can get the job done more eloquently in, say 157 characters?  LOL  Take this article for example.  If I would like to share these tips with my Twitter and other social networking friends, I can do so by posting a link to this blog post with just the subject line.  In fact, if you have a very long URL for your post, you can go to and create a short link for the very same blog post.  Hey, want your URL to stand out too?  You can ask to make a custom URL like:

6. Just the Facts Ma’am Post
Anyone old enough to remember Dragnet?  I loved Sargent Friday’s line, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”  Remember that you don’t necessarily need more words to Say What You Mean.  You just need those words to be succint, effective and clear!

7. When all else fails, EMAIL!
Even the direct messages on Twitter are limited to 140 characters.  As a result, it is sometimes MUCH more effective to send your email to the other party so that you can carry on the discussion or work out details in a much less restrictive environment.

Twitter is a great place to fellowship, network and share.  It just takes a wee bit of adjusting to make the most of your 140 character posts!


JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication studies for the whole family, please visit