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Message Count & Character Limit
Message Count & Character Limit

Learn how the Ministry by Text software calculates the number of messages you send.

EJ Byerly avatar
Written by EJ Byerly
Updated over a week ago

What messages count towards my monthly total?

  • Only Outbound messages such as text campaigns and keyword responses count against your total monthly message count.

  • Both Inbound (including user notifications) & Compliance messages are complimentary.

How are outbound messages calculated?

Messages you send will be encoded as either GSM or Unicode or MMS. For every GSM or Unicode message sent, the Ministry by Text software uses 1 message of your monthly allotment. For MMS messages, the Ministry by Text software uses 3 messages of your monthly allotment.

  • GSM vs Unicode

    • GSM-encoded messages have a limit of 160 characters per SMS part. These are messages that contain only text.

    • Unicode-encoded messages have a limit of 70 characters per SMS part. Messages that contain emojis will be encoded this way.

  • In the MBT software, an SMS message campaign can contain up to 3 SMS message parts.

    • GSM-encoded message campaigns can contain up to 480 characters.

    • Unicode-encoded message campaigns can contain up to 210 characters.

    • MMS-encoded message campaigns, along with the attached media, can also contain up to 480 characters.


Multipart SMS messages contain headers or invisible characters not seen by the recipient of the message. Because of this, the total number of characters you see per multipart SMS may vary.

Hidden (Invisible) Characters

  • Definition: A hidden character is a character type not accepted as part of the coding set outlined for SMS. In other words, certain types of characters that when placed into an SMS will act differently than a typical SMS character.

  • Source: These characters are almost always copied and pasted from an external source (Word, Excel, Websites, other apps, etc.) into the Message Sending window within our platform. Although copying and pasting from other sources is common, this will almost always add hidden characters to your message.

  • Issue: When a hidden character is added to your drafted message campaign within our platform, you will notice that the character count jumps significantly. This can be frustrating since it is impossible to see why the jump occurred and with seemingly no way to identify the cause. The reason for this is due to hidden characters "costing" significantly more characters to use than a standard character.

  • Solution: We recommend two different options:

    • Option #1: Copy and Paste as "Plain Text"

      • After copying text to your clipboard, there will be an option when pasting called, "Paste as plain text". This option helps to remove (most) hidden characters due to formatting, font types, and other factors. If you still have issues with this method, please use option #2.

    • Option #2: Use our SMS Calculator

      • After copying and pasting your message into the SMS Calculator, the message will appear in the Detailed View below and either turn Grey or Green.

        • Grey = All characters are standard SMS characters

        • Green = Hidden character(s) are present and identifiable by a dark green color. Find and replace (simply delete and re-type using your keyboard) all hidden characters until the characters turn Grey.

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