Many cellular phone service providers limit text message sending to 160 characters in length. A primary reason for this is that most cellular phones on the market today have a rather small screen. It is better to view shortened messages. Another reason is that alphabets are grouped and assigned on specific keypads in most cellular phones. Sending long words, then, becomes a bother especially if you would have to press a key twice or thrice to complete a word. Also, some cellphone service providers only have a standard number of free text messages, so it's best to say it all in just one message. For these reasons, text message shortcuts eventually became part of text messaging standards.
A word of caution, though, in using text message shortcuts. Consider that there will probably be times when the receiver will not understand your text message shortcuts. Assess your receiver's prior knowledge of these shortcuts first before sending them. You may convey a totally different impression when your receiver does not understand your message. Also consider your personal relationship with the receiver of your message. For example, you may use text message shortcuts in sending messages to your co-workers but never to your boss. Your boss may find your message unprofessional.
Using text message shortcuts can help you have a whole conversation with others without even writing a single word. Using just punctuation marks can actually get your message across. For example, (!) means you have a comment and (?) means you have a question.
Numbers also convey specific messages, just like how soldiers do over their walkie-talkies. For example, 411 means “info” and 86 means “finished”. The words “I love you” may be said by just using 143, and warning a boyfriend that the parents are watching can be typed as 9. Numbers may also replace whole words like 2 for “to” and 4 for “for”. They may also be combined with a letter/s to form a new word like L8 for “late” or SUM1 for “someone”.
Some text message shortcuts are abbreviations of the actual words. For example BRB means, “be right back” and GTG means, “got to go”. You can even convey your emotions by using LOL, which stands for “laughing out loud”, GRRR for anger, or ZZZ to say that you are bored or sleepy. On the other hand, some text message shortcuts are really just shortened variations of the words like TOM for “tomorrow”, DEF for “definitely”, and BEC for “because”.
Text message shortcuts are not new to the Internet savvy person. Most of the text message shortcuts used today sprung from the message shortcuts used in Internet chatting. Other text message shortcuts are user created and understood by a limited number of people. To the newbie, understanding these shortcuts may take time. Using them and getting to read them frequently definitely helps.