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Understanding Character Limits

An important part of messaging is understanding character limits because this can affect the number of credits you use when sending a message.

There's a maximum amount of characters you can use before your message goes from one SMS using one credit, to one SMS becoming multi-part and requiring two, sometimes even 3 credits. Now that might not seem like a big deal when you're sending 1:1 messages, but if you're sending campaigns to large groups of contacts, your budget can double or triple in a blink and it can result in a nasty shock when the invoice rolls in.

Messages containing only "standard" (GSM) characters: 160 characters

Messages containing "special" (Unicode) characters: 70 characters

Multi-part message breakdowns:

No. of MessagesStandard CharactersUnicode Characters
11 – 1601 – 70
2161 – 30671 – 134
3307 – 459135 – 201
4460 – 612202 – 268
5613 – 765269 – 335
6766 – 918336 – 402
7919 – 1071403 – 469
81072 – 1224470 – 536


Why do the character limits change for multi-part messages?

When your message is split into multiple parts, some characters get used up by invisible headers and footers, which are used to identify which part of the message is being sent (e.g. Part 1 of 2).


Avoid accidental Unicode characters with Smart Encoding

When copying & pasting message content from an external source like a Word document, it's possible your message might contain Unicode characters without it being obvious, particularly if you've copied across any paragraph formatting like "tab" or "whitespace" characters. This can cause a nasty surprise on your invoice if you're sending large broadcasts.

In the Hub, Smart Encoding can identify common accidental Unicode characters and replace them with their equivalent GSM character, ensuring the message goes out as GSM and not inadvertently triggering a 70-character limit on the whole message.

A full table of replacements is attached at the bottom of this article.

If you want Smart Encoding to be turned on for your Hub account, reach out to your 2degrees account manager.


Can I Send Emojis?

Character Mapping.xlsx