Counting Message Text

 for Net Traffic Handling

Each Word Group Counts as ONE

Each individual word in a message counts as one word. Being clear on what is a "word" is not hard if you look for individual "units." If a string of numbers is sent as one group it counts as one.

Examples: "1997", "22", "1", "347", each count as one "word" since each is a single unit.

Each Full Stop "X" mark used in lieu of punctuation counts as one.

Procedural Words

Special procedural words are not part of the message and do not count. Words such as (Break) to indicate you are pausing and releasing the microphone to give the receiving station a chance to catch up, ask for fills etc, are procedural words. Other examples include: (End of Message Text), (Signature) (I spell) (Initials) (Phonetics) (Numbers).

The Signature

The signature is not part of the count, it has a separate function and location on the message form. Though discouraged as space wasters, any closing nicety like "Yours Truly" preceding the signature DOES count as part of the message text, a count of two in this case.

Multi-part names

A name in multiparts counts in multiparts:
"Mike Burger" counts two
"Doctor E C Splatenheimer" counts four.
"New York City" counts as three in contrast to "NYC" which counts one.
"NYC" counts as one and is sent as "(Initials) N Y C".

"14 units Blood type AB positive" counts as six.
"November 29 1997" counts as three words.
Note there is NO comma in the above date example. If the date was sent as "11/29/97" it would count as one word since it is now one unit. Notice that initials do NOT have periods after the individual letters. The format is: E C Splatenhiemer; not E. C.


The phonetic alphabet is generally not used for sending initials, only in cases were a bad circuit demands a repetition in phonetics. Even after (I Spell) only letters and not the phonetic alphabet are used, unless there is a particular difficulty, when the procedural word (Phonetics) should proceed their use.

Date Formats

Use of a day number, a month NAME and a year number is highly recommended, either as "November 29 1997" or "29 November 1997", as opposed to the all numbers format. Different European conventions in the order of the numbers for month and day, as well as mixing military and civilian format makes use of a month name format much clearer.

Use Local Time

Local time is "HST", "Hawaiian Standard Time", or "W" (pronounced Whisky in this case, to mean the local time zone). HST is Zulu (GMT, UTC) minus 10 hours. Everyone should know this minus 10 hours conversion. It is easy to remember it as minus, if you remember that the sun rises in England long before it rises in Hawaii, so their day is many hours older than ours. So naturally their clock is going to read a later time than ours. Also remember that tommorow Zulu time starts in the mid-afternoon HST, at 1400 HST (2400 Zulu - 1000 = 1400 HST) Thus local messages should use HST, local time (Whisky) to avoid all this conversion confusion and possible errors.

Omit Punctuation

According to the ARRL format, you should use NO punctuation in message text. A full stop, places where you might use a period to denote the complete end of one thought or statement and the beginning of a different one, is denoted with "X" which is read on phone as X-Ray. Each such full stop counts as one character. These are used only INTERNALLY to a message. There is no "X" required at the end of the message text. That is denoted by the procedural words (End of Message Text) (Signature)

Comma is never used in message text. Both period and semicolon are rendered as "X". Hyphens when required are pronounced "Hyphen" Initials do NOT have periods after them in message text.

Example: "Do not miss the next X-files X"
Is read as "Do not miss the next (Initial) X hyphen files X-ray" and counts as seven. X-files is one count. Note that the X in X-files is read as X, only the full stop is read as X-ray. Such full stops should be circled on message text to differentiate them from (initial) X.

Summary of Key Points:

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