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140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form Paperback – October 12, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0470556139 ISBN-10: 0470556137 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

How to write short and sweet for the Information Age

The advent of Twitter and other social networking sites, along with the ubiquity of text messaging, have made short-form communication and constant contact an everyday reality. Expressing yourself clearly in short bursts—particularly within Twitter's 140 character limit—takes special writing skill.

For marketers and business owners, social media and text messaging have become an increasingly important avenue for promoting a business, but you have to be able to get your message out in just a few words. 140 Characters is the first writing guide specifically dedicated to communicating with customers, colleagues, and contacts with the succinctness and clarity that the times demand.

Twitter User #9 Dom Sagolla teaches the lessons of great short-form writing, including the importance of communicating with simplicity, openness, and humor. What Strunk and White's Elements of Style did for traditional media, 140 Characters does for the social media revolution happening today. Inside, you'll learn all the basics of:

  • Developing your own honest and unique writing style

  • Evolving rules of grammar for the short form

  • Principles of brevity, including tech-speak/leetspeak

  • Avoiding the too-much-information syndrome

  • Mastering the art of the text message

  • Winning techniques for writing poetry, news, fiction, and much more

About the Author

DOM SAGOLLA helped create Twitter with Jack Dorsey and a team of entrepreneurs in San Francisco. He also helped engineer Macromedia Studio, Odeo, and Adobe Creative Suite, and now produces iPhone applications with his company, DollarApp.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470556137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470556139
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

- Twitter Co-creator
- iPhoneDevCamp Co-founder
- DollarApp Founder

Dom Sagolla helped create Twitter while working for Odeo in 2006. He grew up in New England before attending Swarthmore College, where he earned a degree in English Literature in 1996 and created Dom.net. A software engineer in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom, Dom returned to get his Masters in Education from Harvard University in 2000. Since then he has helped build Macromedia Studio, Odeo Studio, the original Twttr, Adobe Creative Suite, and now produces iPhone apps with his company DollarApp in San Francisco.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pepple on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is interesting for the fact that is was written by a venerable user of Twitter; One of Twitter's first employees in fact, @dom (Dom Sagolla).

As a book, it is lacking of a number of important things. It's not really about writing and style, but is more about how Sagolla's thinks you should use Twitter. This turns out to be an interesting thing to read about, but this is not the book's advertised subject matter. The writing style is terse and fragmentary, which makes many of the points inconclusive and confusing. As the book goes on it get increasingly less organized, and the overall cohesion and editing is poor.

A full review is here, [...]
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford on June 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dom Sagolla, one of the inventors and active promoters of Twitter, offers commentary on "the short form"--tweets and other tweet-sized snippets of text that have become the new way to communicate. Hoping to improve my Facebook status messaging skills, and impressed by Dom's web cred, I downloaded the Kindle version within a day of discovering this book's existence.

The major sections promise to show us how to LEAD, VALUE, MASTER, EVOLVE, and ACCELERATE. The three-layer table of contents supports the book's claim to be a style guide. The depth stops there. By the time the author revealed that he had prepared to write the book by sending brief ideas that occurred to him off to a special Twitter account for later assembly, I was not surprised. Giving lie to the structured outline, the book itself has a snippety, disjointed feel to it. This style works for tweets, but not for a full-length book that ought to contain smooth transitions and thoughtful integration.

There are some useful take-aways. The book begins with an informative history of Twitter's inception and evolution. Some good thinking went into the 12-stage "cycle of focus and distraction" experienced by Twitter users. There are inclusive lists of various language and text techniques. The book does stress basic writing concepts like simplicity, conciseness and attention to your audience. It warns against lying, rudeness, and naiveté. And it admonishes us with PC sincerity to never, ever post drunk.

Beyond its choppy presentation, how does it disappoint? By falling short. The author has much to say about style and developing one's voice. But the highest form of style it advocates is offering up a stream of glib one-liners and attracting followers who enjoy them.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adam Jackson on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read the book, 140 Characters, twice now and have become a better user of social media because of it. In my generation, we grew up with Myspace and blogging and the idea of social networking is just as common as a cell phone. all of my peers use Twitter but there was something missing.

I was a user but I knew there was more to this and more that could be learned to effectively broadcast my message of "what I'm doing" to nearly 4 thousand followers. Dom Sagolla helped make that happen.

Sure I'm friends with Dom and may have gotten a copy of the text early but that doesn't mean I didn't learn something and now want to shout if from the rooftops.

140 Characters is for a person who is new to Twitter or who just celebrated their 3rd year of using the service. Of course, users of Facebook and Myspace aren't excluded. this book helps readers cultivate their story, engage their audience and capitalize on Twitter's impossible message limitations.

I say "impossible" because that's how I felt when joining Twitter. "140 characters? How am I going to post what I'm doing in such a small space?"

Well, over time, I adapted my own style and continue to improve on that. Dom's book merely took my hand and opened a few more doorways to explore. There are styles & processes that I never would have used and the only way to go beyond "using Twitter" and "mastering Twitter" is to read 140 Characters, stopping often to try what you just read.

The Kindle version is cheaper, portable and works on iPhone or Kindle. It's a great way to get the book NOW. However, the layout and design of the print version is excellent as well. Get both! :P
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By George B. Primbs on November 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Different mediums require different mindsets. This book will show you the mindset for the short form of writing on the web.

A great guide book for writing on social networking sites. The author reviews different styles of writing which are needed for social networking websites. This book shows you what works well and what doesn't work well.

Comparisons to Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell adds some nice historical context and examines how these authors organized their thoughts and how to write clearly.

The book helps the writer focus on the substance and relevance of their writing and add impact to their writing. The book discusses the theory and shows the application of how to improve messages. There are some before and after examples which illustrate his points and show how the techniques work.

The book talks about marketing, strategies, audience analysis and the "cultural revolution" taking place because of services like Twitter.

Citizen journalism and first hand news accounts of events have helped accelerate the use of Twitter and short form communication. Many times the best news accounts are from ordinary citizens who get the story first or who provide continuous coverage of a major event 24 hours a day.

There are some great resources listed in the book to get the most out of Twitter and other social networking sites.

The book is broken down into five major parts.
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