Handy tips on how to tweet succinctly and within 140 characters

Believe it or not, Twitter actually makes you a better writer – or at least a more adroit copywriter, meaning that you can write in 140 character sound bites. Every sentence is a complete idea with a minimum of fluff and needless words.

It's no wonder. Crafting a good 140 character tweet on Twitter truly is an art. The first part of successful Twitter communication is figuring out how to get the most out of (or into) your 140 character allotment.

Remember, these are not rules, but simple tips that could help you get that brilliant bit of Twitter prose into a tweet that not only stays under 140 characters, but allows room for your followers to retweet and add their own comments. For more on the latter point, and plenty of other additional tweeting advice, check out our guide to writing better tweets.

Don't retweet multiple times

Twitter is a great community where members are more than willing to credit other tweeters with a great idea or link, but sometimes it goes too far. I've seen folks credit as many as four different Twitter account names (“via” such and such) in one tweet. That's a lot of characters. If you're running low on characters, cut out some of the credits and leave just the original poster.

Use word shortcuts

If you’re really short on space, you can make "with" into "w/." Retweeting becomes "RT-ing." "Characters" becomes "chars." The last probably only works in the context of that tweet, but my point is that you have to be creative.

Drop vowels

This one is somewhat controversial – English students and professors should avert their eyes. However, as long as it's still readable, you can do things like turn "classroom" into “classrm.” That said, for businesses and more serious Twitter accounts, dropping vowels isn’t going to create the right impression for your feed – but when it comes to personal tweets, a splash of extra shortening isn’t going to hurt when you’re really desperate for space.

Contractions

The other night I was watching the move "True Grit" (the 2010 version) where virtually all the characters speak in a stiff, oddly formal way. How did they do it? By never using contractions. You want to do the opposite. "It is" becomes "it's" and "cannot" becomes "can't." You don’t make much in the way of savings, but every character and space counts. Also, the tweet will avoid that odd "True Grit" cadence.

No more "and"

"And" can always become “+” – and that's two characters you’ve gained!

Omit needless characters and bylines

Too many sites generate shareable tweets full of useless garbage, like dashes, spaces, and more than one attribution (if people follow the link, they will see the byline). You can cut some or all of that.

Drop pronouns

One of the easiest to lose is "that." So "the website that I love" becomes "the website I love". Try it; it works. While you’re at it, “website” could be shortened to “site” as well.

Omit needless words

This is one of the first lessons I learned in journalism and writing. Seriously, you'd be shocked at how many people cram in extra articles ("the," "an") into a 140 character post.

Kill "I"

You can make your tweets more declarative and shorter if you occasionally drop the "I" from them. And, yes, "you" can become "u" to save space when needed. In fact, I'd say there are numerous character saving, texting tricks you can apply in the Twitter realm.

Turn words into numbers

"Two" becomes "2" and "one" becomes “1.”

Remove extra spaces

Twitter counts double spaces between words. Make sure your retweets and your own tweets are not full of extra spaces.

Rewrite

When reposting from others, as long as you give them credit for the link, a requisite @[twittername], and do not change the meaning of the post, you're in good shape.

Most people use link shorteners – you might want to use bit.ly or Goog.gl, for example. If you're retweeting a tweet with an expanded URL, don't forget to shrink it.

Drop the full-stop

The last full-stop at the end of your tweet is unnecessary. People will know you're done.

Show hashtag control

The words in your tweet serve as pretty strong keywords in and of themselves. If you need a hash to better define your topic, like "#mobile," be sure to find the shortest keyword and use just one hashtag per tweet.

For a comprehensive list of our articles providing more good Twitter advice, see our guide to using Twitter effectively.