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Using Emoticons: All you need to know!


In a world where information is conveyed by mashing a few buttons on a keyboard, cell phone or tablet, it seems almost wasteful to take the time to actually type out how you're feeling that day. Through this sense of having to conserve nano-minutes of time and possibly inject a bit of humor came emoticons. Whether you're feeling nauseated, excited, thirsty, fearful, suspicious or, of course, happy or sad, an emoticon exists to represent you on your digital media.

An emoticon is a typographical representation of a facial expression. Whether through an instant messenger chat window, text message, email or word processing document, emoticons put a face on what textual characters couldn't. The word emoticon is a mash-up of the words "emotion" and "icon."

Almost every kind of facial expression has been or may be rendered as an emoticon. The most familiar is the smiley face, most commonly typed as the colon for eyes, a dash for a nose and a closed parenthesis for a smiley mouth, resulting in the following:


To make a frowning face is almost the same process, simply type the open parenthesis instead of the closed one,as follows:

Creative emoticon designers have come up with an almost endless supply of emoticons, from varying degrees of anger -- apathy to rage -- to sleepiness, lust and nervousness.

Aside from the benefit of being able to convey your emotions with a few characters rather than an entire paragraph of typing, emoticons also offer free reign where software programs may be more controlling. For example, it's simply not possible on every cell phone to open a text message, click through clip art and attach or insert a smiley face with a tongue sticking out. Instant message windows offer some of the same restrictions. But with emoticons, there's no searching for, uploading and sending images inline or attached -- to stick your tongue out, you simply type a colon, dash and a capital "P" as follows:


The biggest issue related to emoticons is your recipient not understanding them. Some of the more involved emoticons, from smoking cigarettes to smirking, may be lost on your reader and look like just a bunch of typos. Some word processing programs will try to guess what your typing and their "help" isn't always helpful. Microsoft Word, for example, will auto-render a typed smiley face emoticon into an actual smiley face symbol on the page. You can easily undo the auto-rendering, but it's an extra step you must remember to watch for. On a lighter note, extreme use of emoticons -- which are almost always rendered at a 90-degree angle so you must tilt your neck to see them in their entirety -- may result in neck cricks or slight muscle strain.

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