Tech Tips: Smiley Faces & Other Emoticons

Learn how to type emoticons! After sprinkling in these fun face symbols in your online chats, you'll never want to go back to plain, old texting.
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Jun 10, 2014

If you use a mobile phone or a computer, you've probably come across emoticons -- letters & punctuation marks that form a symbol like a smiley face ( :) ). In this post, learn how to type the most popular emoticons and learn what they mean! But before we get started...

Useful Emoticon Tips

  • When typing an emoticon, leave out the spaces between characters. Otherwise, it looks like random letters and punctuation.
  • Some online platforms (like Facebook) automatically change your typed emoticons into cartoon images of the faces they represent.
  • Using emoticons can save time. In the same way that a text can be quicker than a phone call, sending a smiley face rather than words can get your message across more quickly.
  • Have fun with emoticons, but don't overuse them. Too many emoticons can confuse what you're trying to say or seem annoying to the person receiving them. Limit your emoticons to one per message, or one per paragraph if you are sending an email.
  • Emoticons are a playful way to add flavor to a written conversation. Be careful when using emoticons that express negative emotions or to discuss anything serious; they could be taken the wrong way.

And now, without further ado...

How to Type Emoticons

Happy Faces: the most popular emoticons. You can form happy faces in different ways to create the specific emotion you're feeling at the moment.

  • :) -- colon + closing parenthesis
  • :D -- colon + capital D
  • =) -- equal sign + closing parenthesis
  • :O -- colon + capital O

Upset Faces: show that you are sad or express your sympathy to a friend. You should use good judgement for the best time to use a sad face so the recipient doesn't misinterpret your intentions.

  • (-_-) -- open parenthesis + minus sign + underscore + minus sign + close parenthesis
  • :( -- colon + open parenthesis

Playful Faces: convey that you're joking around or expressing sarcasm. When you make a joke over text, friends might not get it because they can't hear the inflection in your voice or see your facial expressions. Sometimes, the best way to express your playfulness online is with one of these symbols.

  • ;) -- semicolon + closing parenthesis
  • :P -- colon + capital P
  • :&colon + ampersand

Angry Faces: let your friends know that you are upset or angry. These symbols represent the squinted eyes, furrowed brows, puckered faces and frowns associated with anger.

  • >:( -- "greater than" sign + open parenthesis
  • D:< -- capital D + colon + "less than" sign>

Extras ("just for fun"): These emoticons are my favorites and the ones I have the most fun using. You can use these symbols in a variety of conversations.

  • <3 -- make a heart with a "less than" sign + three
  • \o/ -- represent someone cheering with backslash + lowercase o + forward slash
  • O:) -- create an angel with capital O + colon + closing parenthesis
  • *<<<= -- show off a Christmas tree with an asterisk + several "less than" signs + equal sign
  • =^.^= -- send a cute cat face with an equal sign + carat + period + carat + equal sign
  • :o3 -- make a cute puppy face with a colon + lowercase o + number 3

These emoticons can save the day by letting someone know the emotions behind your words. They add a little pizzazz to your text, email & chat conversations. After sprinkling in these fun symbols in your conversations, you'll never want to go back to plain, old texting.

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