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Your Quick Guide to Emoji and Emoticon

In the middle of a text, email, or other word-based message, an emoji or emoticon stands out and gets attention. These little picture symbols express a thought, object, or emotion. Everyone has seen the standard smiley face emoticon :) used in emails and social media posts, but there are tons of other emoji and emoticons to choose from. Some believe the terms stand for exactly the same thing, but there are several important differences.

What is Behind the Popularity of Emoji and Emoticons?

People are always looking for a better and quicker way to express themselves. These little pictures can share how you feel, display what you're thinking, and imbue every text or post with more meaning. You do not have to type out if you are sad, or angry, or excited. You can just use an emoji or emoticon to show it.

The majority of people communicate through email, texting, and social media these days, but also bemoan the lack of true connection due to the impersonality of text alone. Face-to-face chats use body language, facial recognition, and vocal tones to determine whether the speakers are happy or sad, having fun or being bored out of their minds. While some writers can convey such things through words, most people simply want to have a chat or pass on some information to a friend. Emoticons and emoji to the rescue. These small and easy-to-use graphic symbols are worth perhaps not 1000 words, but more than most people want to type. They are shortcuts to a more personal connection.

Where Did the Terms Come From?

The word emoticons comes from the two words emotion and icons. From the humble smiley face to much more intricate symbols, they have long been used to send a bit of emotion with your words. They help make text-based messages, posts, or emails more understandable because the recipient not only gets your words but also the mood or feeling behind them. There is sometimes a huge problem with miscommunication when it comes to typing only interactions. The emoticons can smooth the way, share humor more effectively, indicate sarcasm, and even nip arguments in the bud.

Sometimes, for example, a simple sentence that could be taken in multiple ways can be taken in the wrong one. Putting a smile, wink, or even a :P behind it shows humor and good cheer. Negative emotions are easy to portray with emoticons as well. Anger, horror, and sadness all have their own emoticons.

Automatic Text to Image Symbols

Although some text-based apps or communication tools stick with exactly what you type into the program, most change text emoticons to actual graphics. Thus a :) becomes an actual picture of a smiley face. There are new emoticons being created all the type by people sending messages to friends, so all of them will not convert, but there is a long list of possibilities. You can find a guide at Emoticon.info. Use any of those emoticons in a text message, email, or social media post and it will change to the symbol for you.

Emoji or Emoticon? How Do You Tell the Difference?

As described above, emoticons are textual characters you type with a regular keyboard that may or may not automatically change into actual images to convey emotion and thoughts. Emoji on the other hand start out as images and can show a lot more than just how you are feeling. Some people enjoy making whole sentences using just emojis. For example, you could text someone a food emoji and a clock to tell them it is time for dinner.

The term emoji comes from the Japanese for "picture character" and it's easy to see why. There are thousands of emoji ranging from professional icons suitable for serious business to cute animals and off-color jokes too. They help people share ideas and full thoughts rather than just emotions.

A lot of overlap exists between emoticons and emoji. Things such as smiles, frowns, crying faces, and laughs can be found in each. The popularity of everything from Facebook emoticons to iPhone text emoji strings has made digital connections even more fun than ever before. In the example given above of two symbols meaning its time for supper, others can be added: a question mark to ask what was cooked, a hungry face to show how much you want to eat, or even a picture of a meal or food type to answer.

Emoticons and Emoji Are Everywhere

Unicode, a worldwide organization focused on standardization of digital industry characters, helps make these symbols work across most major hardware and software types. The standards created by Unicode allow tech device and application developers to include emoji and emoticons the same way across the board. This holds true for smartphones, websites, apps on your tablet, and desktop computers alike.

Anyone can type out the "code" for an emoticon with a standard keyboard. For example, a colon and parentheses is a smile. : ) In most current programs, pages, and apps, the typed symbols automatically change to an image after you press the space bar. You can also click on "Insert" and then "Symbol" to choose from a wide range of emoji and emoticons you can choose to include in any message.

How to Add Emoji to Any Phone or Mobile Device

Virtually all mobile devices allow you to add emoji and emoticon sets that will then show up as a separate keyboard when you are texting or sending a message.

Users of iPhones and iPads must click on "Settings," then "General," and finally "Keyboards." Click on "Add New Keyboard" and tap on Emoji in the list that appears. The Globe symbol on the left hand side of your standard device keyboard will let you access the emoji keyboard quickly.

People who prefer Android phones and tablets have an emoji keyboard already installed. It is called KitKat and is very simple to use. All you need to do is hold the "Enter" or "Search" key down to make it appear. If you have an older device that does not use KitKat, you can still install an emoji keyboard app. It might even have some unique symbols you can't find anywhere else.

Emoticon and Emoji: Symbols for New Communication

For the entire history of mankind, pictures and symbols have been used to send messages to each other. Emotions and emoji are the modern human's method for expressing quick emotion, sharing some news, or stating what their plans for the future are. These communication shortcuts are fun, easy to use, and add something extra you simply can't share with plain text. Try some emoticon copy paste or selecting emoji and engage your friends and family with more to your messages.

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