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What's the maximum character count that can put in an SMS?

Updated: Feb 9

Ideal character count of a text message

Communicating with relatives, friends, and colleagues via SMS is quite common. You can send and receive brief messages on your phone with ease and convenience.

Nevertheless, SMS messages have a character restriction. One text message may be up to 160 characters long. This limit remains in place even though it was established at the time SMS was initially introduced.

In this blog, we will get to know about SMS character limits, using emojis in SMS messages, tips to make sure you are under the character limit, etc.

Ideal character count for a text message

The maximum length of a text message that can be sent using standard SMS messaging systems is limited by the SMS character limit, also known as the Short Message Service character limit. This character limit is typically set at 160 characters.

Short text messages known as standard SMS can be delivered between phones and various other gadgets. The text message protocol, which has been in use for many years, is used to send these messages. There are origins behind the 160-character restriction.

It started out because of the limitations of early SMS technology and the requirement to fit messages within the limited space of the signaling messages that mobile networks employed. Consequently, SMS messages frequently have a 160-character limit.

It's crucial to remember that the allotted 160 characters encompass not just letters and numbers but also punctuation, spaces, and special characters. This implies that a single space counts as one character in relation to the maximum.

SMS characters and SMS credits

One of the main components of SMS messaging prices is the relationship between SMS characters and SMS credits. Text messaging has a financial impact since the number of characters in an SMS message directly affects how many SMS credits are needed to send it.

All characters (letters, digits, spaces, and special characters) add up to the total number of characters in an SMS message. This count is determined by the service provider or mobile carrier when you send an SMS and is the foundation for billing. Generally, the pricing structure is set up so that one SMS credit is equivalent to a certain number of characters.

More SMS credits could be required for lengthy messages or messages that use character sets other than the normal GSM 7-bit encoding since they contain more characters. For example, compared to standard encoding, Unicode encoding—which is frequently used for non-Latin scripts and special characters—may have lower character restrictions per SMS segment.

Messages that are longer than the typical 160 characters are split up into more SMS segments, each of which costs extra SMS credits.

What is GSM & Unicode?

GSM: GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) is a mobile network standard for text messaging. GSM encoding is used for SMS and has a 160-character limit, mainly supporting basic Latin characters and symbols.

Unicode: Unicode is a character encoding standard that allows text representation in multiple languages and scripts, including Latin, Cyrillic, Chinese, Arabic, and more. It offers a broader character set but may reduce the character limit for SMS messages to 70 or 67 characters per segment due to variable-length encoding. Unicode encoding is crucial for multilingual text support in messaging.

If you want to get an idea about how SMS Credit works in Falkon SMS, just visit our pricing page.

What if we add emojis to text messages?

Emojis are now a common way for people to improve text messages; they let them add expression, context, and emotions to their text messages. All the same, it's important to know how emojis work with conventional SMS messages' 160-character limit.

Emojis are considered characters in SMS messages, and their inclusion adds to the allotted character count. If you send a message that says "Hi! 😃," for example, you've used 7 characters. Emojis provide an effective means of expressing feelings and expressions in a balanced manner. For example, the heart emoji ❤️ can indicate love or affection in a single character, conserving space.

Emoji overload, on the other hand, can quickly push a message beyond the 160-character limit and leave less space for the content of the message.

Emojis can indicate tone, humor, or enthusiasm that might be difficult to portray with words alone, therefore they are useful for giving communications more depth and clarity.

Consequently, it's critical to exercise caution when adding emojis to SMS messages, making sure they are appropriate and not overdone, and finding a balance between the requirement for brief, impactful information while staying within the character restriction and emotional expression.

How to send an SMS longer than 160 characters?

There are various ways to send SMS messages that are longer than the allotted 160 characters. Some of them are mentioned below.

Texting Apps

You can send longer messages without being constrained by traditional SMS using many messaging programs, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage. Many of these apps have no tight character restrictions and send messages across the internet. To make this work, though, the sender and recipient must be using the same messaging app.

Make Use of Links

A web page or document with a link sent over SMS can be a good option if you need to communicate a lot of text with someone. As a result, you can communicate a lot of information without being constrained by character restrictions.

Combine SMS messages

Many contemporary smartphones and messaging apps are equipped with SMS combination. Your smartphone or messaging app will automatically split large text messages into numerous 160-character segments that are transmitted as individual SMS messages when the message length exceeds 160 characters. The message is then shown in its entirety on the recipient's device after these pieces have been combined.

SMS Platform

Longer messages can be sent using certain platforms and services. Longer texts can be sent to a big audience by using bulk messaging services or SMS marketing platforms, for instance.

Tips to stay within the SMS character limit

It's crucial to stick to the SMS character limit if you want your texts to be clear and short. Generally, an SMS message can include a maximum of 160 characters.

The following are some of the tips to stay within the character limit.

Compose the message in advance

Compose your message using a text editor or note-taking tool that lets you keep track of the character count to ensure it is ready in advance. In this manner, you may ensure that your message stays under the SMS character restriction by making the required adjustments.

Try using alternate words or synonyms to convey the same idea more briefly. If your message is longer than the allotted character count, you might want to try sending it in separate SMS messages, making sure that each one is self-contained and gives the receiver context.

Make use of shortened forms

To reduce character space, include frequently used SMS abbreviations and acronyms, such as "OMG" for "oh my god," "LOL" for "laugh out loud," and "BRB" for "be right back." Avoid overusing acronyms, though, as this could confuse the recipient or make your message less clear.

While using texting acronyms can help you remain under the allotted character count, be careful not to sacrifice readability or comprehension in the process.

Stay simple

Try to be clear and simple when writing your SMS. Simplify your message by eliminating any unnecessary words or phrases and focusing on its main points. Setting priorities can help you communicate more effectively. You should also cut out unnecessary details and small talk, and if necessary, use numbered lists or bullet points to provide related information in a concise way.

Look around URL shorteners

Use online URL shortening services when you need to share website links via text messages. Long URLs can be shortened and made more SMS-friendly with the help of these tools. Verify the shortened link's security and functionality before sending it. To further condense your message, use descriptive anchor text rather than the complete URL if possible.

Don't use extra spacing or gaps

Remove unnecessary spaces at the beginning and conclusion of your message, as well as between words, to conserve characters. It can be obvious to change greetings such as "Hello, how are you?" to "Hello, how are you?".

Avoid using new paragraphs or line breaks that introduce more characters. Extensive formatting is usually not essential when communicating by SMS. To effectively divide ideas or sentences without the need for extra line breaks, use punctuation and capitalization.


In summary, The character limit for a standard SMS (Short Message Service) text message is 160 characters. This limit includes the message text and any spaces, punctuation, or special characters. If a message exceeds this limit, it may be broken into multiple messages, each of which will incur charges separately.

Finally, we can say that limits to characters in SMS offer a chance for creativity in addition to posing limitations. Being able to convey ideas clearly and concisely in a restricted number of characters is a talent that is worthwhile acquiring. Embrace these constraints as you navigate text message marketing and keep in mind that, in a world where every character counts, efficient communication can be a creative effort.

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