144 Short quotes to spark instant inspiration.

In a few words, short quotes send big meaning—from life, to family, to love, and more.

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Best overall short quotes for every kind of project.

You wear a lot of hats. You’re somebody’s child, and you might be someone’s sibling. Maybe you’re a parent, too. Then, there’s work. You’re a support to some and a subordinate to others. Among friends, you play another part.

Every hat you wear is part of this colorful thing called life, like so many hats hanging on hooks in the mudroom. To play all those parts well, you need the right script.

When you need your line for a friend’s birthday card, or a coworker’s retirement banner, or a letter about life to your folks, you can turn to the world’s best short quotes.

Short quotes pare big ideas into bite-size pieces. History’s best thinkers, leaders, and personalities left us with a legacy of quotes that are short enough to fit anywhere.

From short quotes about life to the catchiest song lyrics, this list of 144 short quotes has everything you need.

Short quotes about life.

Short quotes aren’t less profound, they’re just quick to the point. Some of the most famous deep short quotes send powerful life messages in 89 characters or less.

Some days, maybe you need an instant dose of meaning faster than you need your morning coffee. These short life quotes do the trick. For the times you want to share reflections with others, these quotes make great openers for letters, too.

Choose from these short quotes about life and bask in the big meaning they offer in few words.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”

Abraham Lincoln

This short quote packs a lot of extra meaning when you think about this U.S. President’s premature departure.

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
Walt Disney
Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne

Coming from a man who played “tough guy” parts so well, this John Wayne quote is great for a motivational poster or flyer.

To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone.”
Reba McEntire
If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Napoleon Hill

It’s easy to focus on the “big things” that make a splash on our social media feeds, but effort is often better directed at doing small things in a great way.

You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.”
Maya Angelou
Keep calm and carry on.”

Winston S. Churchill

This message came from Churchill’s WWII-era Wartime Propaganda department. You’ve seen it remixed in every imaginable way, but the original is still great for banners and cards.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Vivian Greene
Do not let making a living prevent you from making a life.”

John Wooden

This famous short quote is an important reminder for anyone who struggles to hold work-life balance.

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”
James Dean
The world is a stage and the play is badly cast.”

Oscar Wilde

Short quotes can pack a little humor, too. Oscar Wilde makes many appearances in this curated collection of short quotes, and his sense of humor is the common denominator.

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
Thomas Jefferson
The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

A little progress is followed by momentum, and it’s momentum that starts taking you places.

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

Bruce Lee

Every minute of the day comes into sharp focus when you think of life through the lens of this Bruce Lee quote.

Life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got.”
R. Brault
In order to write about life first you must live it.”
Ernest Hemingway
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Positive short quotes.

If quotes about life are like your mental cup of morning Joe, positive short quotes are the sugar cubes you drop into it. Positivity makes life sweeter. They conjure a brighter outlook and a healthy mindset that sticks.

Choose the quotes that instantly warm you from the inside out and share them with the people you know ought to feel the same. You can “be a rainbow in someone’s cloud,” as Maya Angelou said. All it takes is a well-chosen quote in a card, social media graphic, collage, or message.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Henry Ford
Never regret anything that made you smile.”

Mark Twain

This can be a great message of encouragement in a card or letter for someone who’s unsure about a recent change.

Character is power.”

Booker T. Washington

What does “having character” mean to you? What would this quote do for you in plain sight on a poster or social media banner?

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Ludwig Jacobowski
Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.”

Jim Rohn

You do have a choice, so why not choose the happiest possible outlook?

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
Maya Angelou
If you judge people you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa
We become what we think about most of the time.”

Earl Nightingale

Use this quote on a poster and it can help you flag negative thinking and spirals early.

A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”

Duke Ellington

If you’re tired of your boss telling you problems are actually “opportunities,” this quote uses new language to take a fresh look at a problem-solving mindset.

Keep looking up … that’s the secret of life.”
Charlie Brown
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

This is a reminder to celebrate the whole journey. What photos would you surround this quote with in a collage?

Talk to yourself like someone you love.”
Brene Brown
It is the same life, whether we spend it laughing or crying.”
Japanese Proverb
The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

Buddha

If you are what you eat, you’re definitely what you think.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

Don’t you want to see the magic?

Attitude is the ‘little thing’ that makes a big difference.”
Winston S. Churchill
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Inspiring short quotes.

What can inspiring short quotes stir you to do? Everything. Most of these are motivational quotes we need when it’s hard to start something, or hard to keep going. Those moments when we struggle to get in gear are when short inspiring quotes do their magic.

Choose your favorite quotes and memorize a few. These short quotes to inspire you can become mantras if you let them. As it turns out, short quotes are no less mighty.

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
Aristotle Onassis
I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”

Estée Lauder

Use tools like vision boards to put your dreams into action. Harvest ideas and plant them into next steps.

Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

Sam Levenson

When we feel short on time, that “tick, tick, tick” can trigger anxiety. If you pace the clock, though, you can keep up. Passing time can turn into a metronome of focus and action.

It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.”
Confucius
It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
George Eliot
The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you’ve ever looked for a good quote about integrity for a work flyer or motivational poster, this one is perfect.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Henry Ford
We will fail when we fail to try.”

Rosa Parks

The sociopolitical context of this Rosa Parks quote is part of what makes it so powerful.

Nothing will work unless you do.”
Maya Angelou
The best revenge is massive success.”

Frank Sinatra

Admit it—it’s satisfying to imagine how your best outcomes in life can fly in the face of what naysayers have said about you.

It's hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Babe Ruth

Does this make Babe Ruth the unstoppable force or the immovable object? Either way, this short quote is memorable and motivating, making it perfect for a poster.

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”
Gloria Steinem
Don't find fault, find a remedy: anyone can complain.”

Henry Ford

The next time you feel negative, ask yourself, “What am I going to do about it?”

Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”
John D. Rockefeller
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

Mae West

This Mae West quote has appeared in countless cards, collages, and social media graphics, and it’s clear why: With a touch of romanticism and nostalgia, it reminds us of life’s priorities.

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.”
Tony Robbins
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Funny short quotes.

The purpose of some short quotes is to make us laugh. These funny short quotes are memorable ones. Somehow, miraculously, in 16 words or less, they transmit meaning and leave us smiling.

On days when we struggle, humor is the aloe vera to a sunburned back. On days we love life, it’s the cherry on top of the sundae. Choose your favorite funny short quotes and know that others will love them, too. Then, let Adobe Express help you share them in cards, collages, posters, and more—no experience required.

I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

Groucho Marx

One-liners by any of the Marx brothers are fun to share in cards or social media graphics.

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
A.A. Milne , Winnie the Pooh
The world doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
Pablo Picasso
I can resist everything except temptation.”

Oscar Wilde

This short quote is a great set-up. You could split it between the front and inside of a card.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Allen Saunders

Funny short quotes can leave you feeling profound, too. When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses?

The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”
George Carlin
Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”

Robin Williams

Challenge something that no one’s thought about, and you can earn a laugh.

Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.”
Will Rogers
Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it.”

Salvador Dalí

Commit this one to memory and you’ll always have a way to check your ego at the door.

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”
Dorothy Parker
Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

Rita Mae Brown

The first citation of this quote was in the 1983 book Sudden Death by Brown, and it was made more famous later by Narcotics Anonymous.

Trying is the first step toward failure.”
Homer Simpson , The Simpsons
I never forget a face—but in your case, I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
Groucho Marx
Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”
Chili Davis
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Use this quote on a funny poster for a classroom, for the office, or in a card to a friend.

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”

Elbert Hubbard

This quote is true, funny, and perfect as a birthday wish.

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Short love quotes.

Whether it’s romantic love, an adoring friend, a parent, or a pet, the feeling we call “love” that wells up in your chest is hard to describe. Love leaves us lost for words, so it’s handy to have these short love quotes at the ready.

It’s taken the world’s cleverest writers, poets, and personalities to come up with quotes that describe this wonderful feeling so instantaneously. Their brevity makes these short quotes perfect for banners, posters, cards, and letters to send to shower someone in love.

You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.”

Barbara De Angelis

Part of love is making ourselves vulnerable. The positive flip on “holding back” is “letting go.” Doesn’t that sound like a ride you want to take?

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

Zora Neale Hurston

In just 10 words, this quote gives you an incredible visual and emotional response.

Love is not love until love’s vulnerable.”
Theodore Roethke
Don’t you be so nice to me; I fall in love so easily.”
Waylon Jennings
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
Emily Brontë
No one ever fell in love without being a little bit brave.”

Mario Tomasello

Bravery and vulnerability make multiple appearances in short quotes about love. That isn’t a coincidence.

If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”
Haruki Murakami
I do love nothing in the world so well as you.”

William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

A little Shakespeare is a great way to open aletter to a loved one.

I love you more than coffee, but please don’t make me prove it.”
Elizabeth Evans
I never want to stop making memories with you.”

Pierre Jeanty

This can be a beautiful wedding wish between newlyweds, don’t you think?

Love is like pi—natural, irrational, and very important.”

Lisa Hoffman

Who ever thought a short love quote could be perfect for a poster in math class?

True love stories never have endings.”
Richard Bach
At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”

Plato

. . . Especially with short love quotes at the ready.

Love is the whole thing. We are only pieces.”
Rumi
Who, being loved, is poor?”
Oscar Wilde
The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”

Audrey Hepburn

Whatever we expect Hepburn to “hold onto in life,” we assume it will be figurative. Instead, this quote evokes a warm embrace in the literal sense of “holding on.”

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Short family quotes.

For some family members, we’re their children. For others, we’re parents. We’re siblings, cousins, grandkids, nieces, and nephews. Each relationship comes with annual visits, birthdays, reunions, and no shortage of family anecdotes.

We play so many roles for different family members that summing it up in a quote is a tall order. Nonetheless, there are short family quotes that instantly take you home. Choose your favorites and you’ll have the perfect short quotes to include in cards, banners, and collages for the next family event.

Families are like fudge—mostly sweet, with a few nuts.”

Les Dawson

Family members will be quick to laugh and point the finger at who they think the “nuts” are.

Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”

Anthony Brandt

This quote can mean a lot to families who are spread out across cities, states, or national borders.

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family.”
Paul Pearsall
The memories you make with your family are everything.”
Candace Cameron Bure
Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”
Cary Grant
I sustain myself with the love of family.”

Maya Angelou

Do you have a relationship with your family that gives you this underlying sense of security? Share this quote with them in a card or letter.

In time of test, family is best.”
Burmese Proverb
There are two kinds of travel: first class and with children.”

Robert Benchley

If you use this family quote in a collage, what photos would surround it?

I have a wonderful shelter, which is my family.”

José Carreras

José Carreras is a celebrated operatic tenor. With his decades of success and a life in the limelight, he’s spoken in multiple interviews about the importance of family over anything else.

Many men can make a fortune but very few can build a family.”

J.S. Bryan

Combine this with your favorite Father’s Day quotes the next time you celebrate Dad.

The family is the first essential cell of human society.”
Pope John XXIII
Home isn't where you're from, it's where you find light when all grows dark.”
Pierce Brown
Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”
Leigh Hunt
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

George Burns

This bait-and-switch quote about family earns a laugh. Use it in a holiday card or on a poster for the next family reunion.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox has spent several decades educating and promoting research for Parkinson’s Disease, which he has. He’s talked about the support from family—especially his wife—in many interviews.

Sticking with your family is what makes it a family.”
Mitch Albom
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Short friendship quotes.

Do your friends know how often you think about them? As we mull through the day, random thoughts click through our minds like so many falling dominoes. A split-second memory might fade into “what’s for lunch,” followed by the lyrics of a favorite song. In all the noise, we frequently think of our friends. The memories resurface. The things we want to do bubble up.

Friendship is something we choose. It’s something we make. As part of that effort, it means a lot to show our friends we’re thinking of them. Peruse these short friendship quotes and see which ones make you think of your best buds. Send a quote in a message or even a social media graphic—with Adobe Express, you can make something they’ll remember, no experience required.

Distance means so little, when someone means so much.”

Tom McNeal

When friends live far away, this quote reminds them that no distance will ever surpass your friendship.

The best mirror is an old friend.”

George Herbert

What do your friends reflect that tells you something about yourself? Think about that, then share your answer in a letter.

No friendship is an accident.”
O. Henry
A friend is one soul abiding in two bodies.”
Aristotle
Friendship's the wine of life.”

Edward Young

Like wine, you could say friendship ferments over time. First, it’s sweet grape juice, and then it develops into something refined that you know how to pair with every occasion.

To friendship every burden's light.”
Aesop
Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
Charles R. Swindoll
A friend is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.”

Frank Crane

You can be silly, you can be frank, and you can be transparent with true friends.

Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.”
Herodotus
Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.”

Jean de la Fontaine

Does this short friend quote instantly make you think of someone? If it does, share it in a text message or a card.

We were together. I forget the rest.”

Walt Whitman

This is either the sign of a very old friend or a very good night.

Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil.”
Baltasar Gracian
Awards become corroded. Friends gather no dust.”
Jesse Owens
True friends are always together in spirit.”
L.M. Montgomery
It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

Marlene Dietrich

Depending on the friends, they might still be up, anyway.

My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

Henry Ford

This friendship quote is heartwarming and flattering to receive. Who in your life does it make you think of?

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Short quotes from famous songs.

Most short quotes give us two levels of meaning: the quote on its own means something, and the source and context of the quote gives it meaning on a deeper level.

Short quotes from famous songs give us three levels of meaning. It’s like all other quotes were two-dimensional and song quotes add a third dimension of depth. Song quotes mean something on their own, and the source and context of each provides added meaning. On a third level, the melody behind these quotes evokes a chemical reaction in our brains that makes them much more emotional.

It's easy to see why music means so much to people. Peruse the quotes you can’t help but sing along to.

All you need is love.”

The Beatles, “All You Need Is Love”

This titular quote is emblematic of an entire era—of the Beatles and of the world.

Every little thing is gonna be alright.”
Bob Marley , “Three Little Birds”
I’m looking right at the other half of me.”
Justin Timberlake , “Mirrors”
And the stars look very different today.”

David Bowie, “Space Oddity”

You can listen to the full song for the context of this quote, or you can adopt it as your own and build meaning around it in a card or poster.

You'll never know how slow the moments go till I'm near to you.”

Ray Nobel, “The Very Thought of You”

This standard has been recorded by many greats, including Al Bowlly and Nat King Cole. The full lyrics are truly heartwarming, but this short song quote is enough to send a message loud and clear.

I won’t be afraid just as long as you stand, stand by me.”
Ben E. King, “Stand By Me”
And here we are in heaven, For you are mine.”
Etta James , “At Last”
Don’t stop believin’.”

Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’”

This quote on a poster can be accompanied with just as much color as the cover of the album this song was released on (“Escape”).

Running after you is like chasing the clouds.”

One Direction, “Story of My Life”

Popular singer Harry Styles made waves when he first appeared in the boy band One Direction. This short song quote he wrote for the band is a great simile.

Here you come again, lookin’ better than a body has a right to.”
Dolly Parton , “Here You Come Again”
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

John Lennon, “Imagine”

This famous song quote is more striking in the full context of the song. You can use it in an open letter to the world, daring everyone to be their best selves.

Take a chance, it could only make you stronger. Do your dance.”
Prince , “Cream”
Baby, we were born to run.”

Bruce Springsteen, “Born to Run”

If you can’t instantly hear this quote in your head with the full band behind him, you aren’t listening to enough Bruce.

Life is ours, we live it our way.”

Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters”

Some deep mindset philosophies come from surprising places, including Metallica songs.

Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections.”
John Legend , “All of Me”
Dream until your dreams come true.”
Aerosmith , “Dream On”
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Historic short quotes.

The best overall short quotes are the ones that have lasted through the ages. Some are centuries old, and some are 20th-century additions that have been engraved forever on our hearts.

What makes a history quote lasting? Maybe it’s how well they make their points. In so few words and with such simple phrases, our perspectives are challenged and the world turned on its head. These historic short quotes inspire us, amaze us, and never lose their magic as time goes on.

Cogito, ergo sum. (I think, therefore, I am.)”
René Descartes
One cannot step twice in the same river.”

Heraclitus

Life isn’t a controlled experiment. Our surroundings—or, as Heraclitus put it, the “river”—is always changing.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Socrates

If you use this quote on a poster, where do you think that poster could go?

History is written by the victors.”

Walter Benjamin

If you take victory in a figurative sense, this quote can go in motivational cards and posters to inspire anyone.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.”
Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), Gone With the Wind
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Michelangelo

Imagining Michelangelo “freeing” the masterpieces he carved instead of toiling over them gives his art an extraordinary magic.

Well done is better than well said.”
Benjamin Franklin
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Never assume that the change you want to see will happen externally. In a world where we control so little, the greatest choice we make is how we, personally, each contribute.

History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
Winston S. Churchill
I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”
Dorothy (Judy Garland), The Wizard of Oz
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Wayne Gretzky

Few people know the source of this quote, but we all know how to use it. This message has blazed across banners, posters, and flyers at all sorts of events for decades.

A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!”
William Shakespeare , Richard III
Fortune favors the brave.”

Virgil, Aeneid

As Thomas Jefferson said, “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” His quote and Virgil’s motivate in a similar way. The message is that mysterious forces like “fortune” and “luck” are yours to make.

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”

Helen Keller

Who could benefit from seeing this quote in a card?

Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke
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Tips to use short quotes.

The best part about short quotes is their length. Character limits are unlikely to stop you from using any one of these memorable aphorisms wherever you want.

There are other things to keep in mind to use these short quotes well, though. For example:

Exercise: A quote a day.

Short quotes are ideal for projects with limited space like posters, banners, and cards.

Or, for a fresh idea that can entertain you for at least 144 days, try to use one of these short quotes every day until you exhaust the list.

You can:

Adobe Express can help.

Adobe Express has templates and customization tools to put your favorite short quotes to work. If you want to use short quotes in cards, letters, posters, banners, collages, flyers, or other creative projects, Adobe Express makes it as simple as picking a template and personalizing it, or making your own idea with easy-to-use tools. Whatever message you want to transmit, Adobe Express brings it to life, no experience required.

Start designing with Adobe Express