When you’re chatting with someone face-to-face or on the phone, you can read their mood in their facial expression or tone. You can certainly tell by someone’s voice if they’re angry, sad, happy or joking.
It’s not so easy to decipher what someone’s feeling via email or Facebook updates.
Enter the “emoticon” to save the day. By using your letters and punctuation on your keyboard to make an expressive “face,” you can let someone know the emotions behind your words. Use emoticons to add a little pizzaz to your text messages, emails, Facebook messages, online comments and Tweets.
I’ll teach you a few of the most popular emoticons, but first, I’ll review a few basic rules about using them:
- Some online platforms automatically switch your typed emoticons into cartoonish images of the actual faces they represent. This is the case on Facebook. Check this list to see how to create emoticons specific to Facebook.
- When typing an emoticon, omit the space bar between characters (otherwise, it might just look like random punctuation and letters).
- Have fun with emoticons, but don’t overuse them. Too many emoticons can confuse what you’re trying to say. Try to limit your emoticons to one per message. Or, if you’re sending a long message -an email, for example, one emoticon per paragraph is a good rule of thumb.
- Emoticons are generally a playful and fun way to liven up a written conversation. Though some emoticons express negative emotions, be careful when using them to discuss anything serious or heavy; it could be taken the wrong way.
Ready? Here we go.
This is the most common emoticon of them all, and you can form it in different ways.
:-) colon + minus sign + close parentheses
:-D colon + minus sign + capital D
=) equal sign +close parentheses
Use your judgement for the best time to use this one. A sad face might not be the right way to express condolences or sympathy.
:-( colon + minus sign + open parentheses
:’-( colon + apostrophe + minus sign + open parentheses
:’( colon + apostrophe sign + open parentheses
Let someone know you’re joking around or expressing sarcasm with a winking face or one that’s sticking out its tongue.
;-) semicolon + minus sign + close parentheses
:-P colon + minus sign + capital P
This emoticon represents sunglasses, an important accessory for maintaining your cool.
B-) capital B + minus sign + close parentheses
8-) eight + minus sign + close parentheses
These emoticons represent the squinted eyes, furrowed brows, puckered faces and frowns associated with anger.
>:( greater than sign + colon + open parentheses
:-@ colon + minus sign + @ sign
X-( capital X + minus sign + open parentheses
Oops! Use these if you made a mistake or misunderstood something.
:$ colon + dollar sign
:-/ colon + minus sign + backslash
Use these emoticons if you find something startling or surprising.
:-O colon + minus sign + capital O
=O equal sign + capital O
Imagine someone squinting their eyes or biting their lip when confused.
%-) percentage sign + minus sign + close parentheses
:-S colon + minus sign + capital S
An asterisk represents a kiss.
:-)* colon + minus sign + close parentheses + asterisk
Extra “Just for Fun” Symbols
<3 make a heart with a “less than” sign + three
\o/ represent someone cheering with backslash + lowercase o + forward slash
O:-) create an emoticon representing an angel with capital O + colon + minus sign + close parentheses
Practice time! Try typing your current mood in the comments area below!