tedster - 8:05 pm on Sep 29, 2012 (gmt 0) [edited by: tedster at 1:29 am (utc) on Sep 30, 2012]
How many characters Google will display in a title does not depend on counting the characters - it depends on the number of pixels that are used in the width of the final display in search results.
So it's the pixel width and not the number of characters. I've seen tests using only the very narrow-pixel characters that managed to get 101 characters to display in Google.
Even if the original title tag doesn't fit, Google will cut out part of the tag and replace it with an ellipsis [a ...] to make it fit. Their choice of what part to display will include the important keywords from the original query phrase.
So there's no reason to force a useful title tag to fit into any arbitrary size. At the same time, packing a title with many keywords just to try to help your ranking is a very foolish idea, and it can lead to penalties rather than traffic.
[edited by: tedster at 1:29 am (utc) on Sep 30, 2012]