The etiquette of emoticons


Hi there! smile

Did that smiley face annoy you?

Probably not.

On the contrary, several have asked how to do it so they can follow suit. It’s easy in MS Word and many other common applications:

  • Type : then ) to get smile
  • Type : then ( to get frown

I won’t try to cover the full range of emoticons, as it’s very broad.

My rule of thumb is to use emoticons as I do actual facial expressions.

So, if I’m chasing an invoice payment, I might start with smile and move to bored before resorting to frown.

On the other hand, I’d never write: ‘Hey, I heard you got sacked from your dream job today! smile

Some say you shouldn’t use emoticons on Twitter. My view is that when you have just 140 characters with which to convey complex thoughts, clarification of intent is particularly vital.

wink. Not doing so could deeply offend. Another thing to watch is that not all applications translate emoticons. I’ve had emails come back with my smile turned into:

  • :P
  • :J
  • PJ
  • J

I’d also steer clear of those newfangled animated emoticons. Some even have sound, which scares the bejesus out of me. Simple is best.

Consider your target before you fire. Undertakers, bank managers, Family Court judges, forensic accountants and Fortune 500 recruiters may not be into pulling faces.

If in doubt, leave it out; otherwise, go for it.

Because most people could use a smile right now.

frown smile wink

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