We get asked how much information can be shared via text message. Not surprisingly, many people don’t think it is much, even considering the average mobile user manages to share a lot of info with friends, family and co-workers texting from their mobile phones.
In 1984 when SMS (Text Messaging) was invented, Friedhelm Hillebrand decided on 160 characters because it was the average amount of characters that fit on a typical postcard in those he counted. The postcard above (written by Rush drummer Neil Peart in 1984, the very same year SMS was invented) is 254 characters including sign off and his name. If you haven’t seen one of Neil’s drum solos, they are truly amazing, but also a tad longer than your average rock drum solo and worth every second (scroll to the 6 minute mark in the video below if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing).
98.15 Characters (61.4%)
That is the average number of characters in an outbound response from our clients to their patrons, students and customers. The important thing to remember is that ultimately, users understand the medium they’re using. Text messaging is conversational and short, but plenty of information can be shared in a single text message.
So what does 160 characters look like?
Here’s my personal favorite quote (from Charles Kingsley), I try to live by it every day. 159 characters including the quotation marks:
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”
For Text a Librarian customers who are less like Charles Kingsley and more like Neil Peart, we enabled you to send longer responses, automatically breaking them over several text messages when needed.