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Writing Text Messages

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A common way of modern communication is text messaging ie, sending an SMS (Short Message Service) message, 160 characters or less, to and from a mobile phone. Texting in today's world (2002) has become one of the most popular ways of communication. The rapid growth of SMS text messaging was due to the cheap access to the networks, the decreasing prices of mobile phones and the popularity it had with the youth market as the latest 'must-have' accessory. With the maximum number of characters in a message being 160, people have learned ways of shortening words so that they can say more in one message. This entry will show some of the ways in which this is achieved.

Taking Out the Vowels

A simple method of shortening words is to take out all the vowels (the letters A, E, I, O and U). Although this works for some words, it is not the most effective method. For example, sending the word 'THS' could be interpreted as 'THIS' or 'THESE'. For this reason, taking out all the vowels is not a commonly used method. However, people who are not familiar with text messaging usually think this is how people shorten words. This is due to such words as 'TEXT' being shortened to 'TXT'.

Taking Out Apostrophes and Dashes

For some words, this is a very simple way of removing an un-needed character from a word. The word 'E-MAIL' does not need a dash in it for people to understand what it means. Just putting 'EMAIL' is enough for people to understand the word. Words like 'I'M' can be shortened to 'IM', and words like 'DON'T' can be shortened to 'DONT'. For the word 'DON'T', people often remove the vowel as well to make 'DNT'. In this case, you have removed two un-needed characters from the word.

Replacing Words With Symbols and Numbers

When text messaging, you do not want to write out words which can be replaced with symbols or numbers. For example, instead of writing the word 'FOR' you would write '4'. Also, whenever the letters 'FOR' appear as part of another word like in the word 'FORGIVE', you would substitute the number for the word and write '4GIVE'. In this case, you may even remove the 'E' from the end of the word and just write '4GIV'. This removing of the 'E' is a process which will be explained in more detail later in this entry.

Below are some common cases where words are replaced with symbols and numbers:

 AND  & 
 AT  @ 
 ATE  8 
 FOR  4 
 ONE  1 
 TO/TOO  2 

Removing The End 'E' and Changing 'O' to 'U'

Another method of shortening words is to remove the 'E' from the end of the word. Using this method the word 'GIVE' would be written as 'GIV'. You can also remove the 'E' from words like 'SOME' and 'LOVE'. However, to make the words sound right, you change the 'O' to a 'U' to make 'SUM' and 'LUV'.

Replacing 'I' with 'Y'

For many words, it is possible to replace an 'I' with a 'Y'. and remove some characters from the word. With the word 'TIME', you would replace the 'I' with a 'Y' and remove the 'E' to make 'TYM'. With the word 'RIGHT', you would replace the 'I' with a 'Y' and remove the 'G' and 'H' to make 'RYT'.


When shortening words, remember that you are trying to communicate a message. A good method of doing this is by using sounds to represent words. For example, instead of writing 'YOU', you would replace it with a letter which creates the same sound, 'U'. For the word 'WHY', you would replace it with 'Y'. For a word like 'ANY', you would replace it with 'NE'. By making words from sounds, words are usually shorter.

Words to Remember

There are some words that have been given abbreviations by people and are now commonly used. These do not all use regular methods, however, they are commonly-used abbreviations for words and are very useful when writing text messages. Some of these abbreviations are commonly-known acronyms. Many of these have spread to text messages from being mainly used in chat rooms over the Internet. This type of short form originated from a type of shorthand, and jargon is sometimes used to include and exclude people.

WordCommonly-used Shortening

Combining Methods

Combining methods is an important part of writing text messages. You must not just use one method, you must use them all when appropriate. An example of combining methods is the word 'ANYONE'. By using the method of sounds and the method of replacing words with symbols and numbers, you would replace the word 'ANYONE' with 'NE1'. This communicates the desired message and halves the number of characters used by the word, giving you more characters to write a longer message.

1You should be able to tell the difference by the mood of the text message and where it appears. For example, if it appears at the end of a text message it is usually a kiss, however, if the message stated 'I AM VERY X @ U' it would mean cross. Always make sure you use it in context so that you do not cause people confusion.

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