17 Tips To Shorten Tweets

Tracy Gold Marketer, Editor, Writer, 24k Create

Posted on June 7th 2011

If you’ve ever been frustrated by trying to cut those last few characters out of a tweet so you can send away, this post is for you. It’s hard enough to cut tweets to the general 140 character limit, much less the recommended 120 characters or less needed to leave room for others to retweet you, so I created this guide to help.

There’s plenty of general advice about keeping tweets short, but without specific examples, rules such as “omit needless words” are hard to grasp. Thus, I’ve searched Right Source Marketing’s tweetsmy own tweets, and some of our clients’ tweets to collect examples to take specific action to follow all of this general advice.  Following this advice will not only help you become a better tweeter, but in many cases, a better writer (Copyblogger’s take on this).

A note of caution: be careful not to abbreviate your tweets to the point that their meaning is warped, or totally lost. It doesn’t matter how easy to retweet you are if no one understands what you’re trying to say.

Examples 1-4:

Original: Malt-O-Meal brand cereals launches new movement 2 rethink breakfast and excess #packaging: http://prn.to/kR2owS from @PRNewswire

Characters: 128

Suggested: Malt-O-Meal cereals launches movement 2 rethink breakfast, excess #packaging: http://prn.to/kR2owS via @PRNewswire

Characters: 114

1. Get rid of “brand.”

2. “Launches new” is redundant, get rid of “new.”

3. Use a comma or &, not “and.”

4. Use “via,” not from.

Examples 5-6:

Original: Blest Plastic-to-Oil machines require just 3 kilowatts of energy to convert 8 pounds of plastic into a gallon of oil http://bit.ly/lsI2WA

Characters: 138

Suggested: Just 3 kilowatts of energy can convert 8 pounds of plastic into a gallon of oil w/ this machinehttp://bit.ly/lsI2WA

Characters: 117

5. Remove unnecessary branding. 

6. Put the good stuff first.

Examples 7-9:

Original: 7UP introduces new  #packaging designed by “The Celebrity Apprentice” finalists Marlee Matlin, John Rich: http://bit.ly/kSeIdt

Characters: 126

Suggested: 7UP introduces #packaging designed by The Celebrity Apprentice’s Marlee Matlin, John Rich: http://bit.ly/kSeIdt

Characters: 112

7. “Introduces new” is redundant, get rid of new.

8.  Remove quotes.

9. Use apostrophes instead of words when possible.

Example 10:

Original: RT @EUBioplastics: Green packaging is leading the way: http://bit.ly/kBynsS#packaging #eco #green

Characters: 98

Suggested: RT @EUBioplastics: Green #packaging is leading the way:http://bit.ly/kBynsS #eco #green

Characters: 88

10. Integrate hashtags.

Examples 11-13:

Original: RT @EarthTechling Innovative green tech startup has won $100,000 in MIT contest w/ its garbage 2 energy solution http://bit.ly/kWdZOm

Characters: 133

Suggested: RT @EarthTechling Innovative green tech startup wins $100,000 in MIT contest w/ garbage 2 energy idea http://bit.ly/kWdZOm

Characters: 122

11. Avoid the past tense.

12. Get rid of “its.”

13. Solution can be “idea.”

Examples 14-17:

Change: Lions of Northern VA Fairfax Education Association are asking for your help to fight #hunger: http://bit.ly/mRw5gE

Characters: 115

Suggested: Lions of Northern VA Fairfax Ed. Association ask 4 your help to fight #hunger: http://bit.ly/mRw5gE

Characters: 100

14. Change “Education” to “Ed.”

15. Remove “are.”

16. Avoid gerunds (i.e., “asking”).

17. “For” can be “4.”

Take umbrage with one of my examples? Have your own to share? Please share in the comments so that we can turn this into a dynamic resource.

Tracy Gold is a Marketing and Content Associate at Right Source Marketing. This post was originally published on the Marketing Trenches blogFollow @tracycgold for more marketing commentary.



Tracy Gold

Marketer, Editor, Writer, 24k Create

Tracy Gold is a marketer, editor, and writer specializing in social media. When she's not tweeting, emailing, or blogging, she's riding a horse or reading a great book. Follow @tracycgold on Twitter or check out tracycgold.com for writing, editing, and marketing tips.
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Posted on June 8th 2011 at 11:27AM

Hi Tracy - great advice. You haven't explained the w/ abbreviation? I assume this means with...although I didn't know that.

However, as most of the original examples are less than 140 characters to start with, why would you need to reduce them? Or do you think they read best if cut shorter?

It's all good practice though :)



Posted on June 8th 2011 at 10:51PM

Trevor--yup, you got it with the w/. 

And yes, I over shortened these for the point of demonstration. I wanted to use real tweets I'd seen or was responsible for editing, which made finding ones that really needed to be shortened difficult. Many of these tweets would be just fine, or preferable, to be sent without the extra shortening, but in those situations where you need just a few characters less, the tactics apply. 

Thanks for reading and the comment, as always!


Posted on June 8th 2011 at 12:41PM

Why not use abbreviations?  Two biggies: kilowatts = kw & $100,000 = $1k.  You "owe" me a dozen characters.... 

Posted on June 8th 2011 at 10:58PM

Great points! Thanks for adding to the list, and I suppose I do owe you.

Posted on June 9th 2011 at 6:15PM

All great tips Tracy and much food for thought - even for a veteran marketer like me! Especially love how you've said we should put the most important info first.

Any tips on how to handle retweeting others that don't follow rules like these? Is it improper to remove their words and abbreviate?


Posted on June 13th 2011 at 4:11PM


Glad to help! 

Generally, changing a word to a number or putting an ellipses between words gives me no pause when I'm retweeting someone. If I find that I need to make significant changes, though, I'll just restructure the tweet and give them a "via" credit rather than retweeting. 

Thanks for reading, 

Posted on June 14th 2011 at 7:21PM

Hi Tracy - great examples of how to breakdown tweets! I was also going to mention the 100k instead of $100,00, but John beat me to it! ;)



Posted on June 17th 2011 at 1:13PM


Thanks for reading! I'm sure there's still more that I missed--a million eyes can find a way to shorten a tweet? 



Posted on July 18th 2011 at 12:54PM

Hi, Tracy! How are you?
Really nice post and tips!

I´m from Brazil and I´m working on a very simple url shortener project to save more characters, but without loosing the "cute factor".

It´s ʚïɞ.com and I´m thinking mainly on the girls! ;)
As you can see (I hope so!), the domain seems a butterfly. You can visit it at www.ʚïɞ.com if you want.

So we can transform this http://socialmediatoday.com/user/65219 to this http://ʚïɞ.com/3c (sooo cute... lol).

But... I´m still having troubles, ´cause Twitter doesn´t recognize the link. :(

It works sending the link through Twitpic.com, but it doesn´t work straight on Twitter. I will keep trying.

Best regards!

Posted on August 9th 2011 at 11:04AM

Great post Tracy!  Now off to share it with my followers.