Blake’s IM emoticons quick reference

multi-platform graphical emoticons quick reference

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I wrote this list or quick-reference (site) because I was having a hard time remembering less-common graphical emoticons while using instant messaging (IM). There are no standards! This was complicated by the fact that I use a particular IM client (the excellent Trillian by cerulean studios) on my home computer which offers a large set of emoticons. It also supports multiple platforms, including MSN, AIM/AOL, etc.

Emoticons are often entered into an IM client by typing a special keyboard symbol sequence. Some IM environments (e.g. Trillian, AIM, Meebo) let you also choose emoticons from a visual menu. Many of the key sequences are based on old email “smileys” (e.g. 😉 or the semi-colon, hyphen, and open-parenthesis to mean “wink”). Other emoticons are generated by essentially typing a word between parenthesis (e.g. (drums) to show a little tin drum and drumsticks—and perhaps play a drum roll sound effect!).

This site shows moods, emotions, effects, and other symbols in a procedural arrangement. So, simply look for the thing you want to emote or communicate, then read across for the keyboard shortcut. I tried to describe each emoticon with synonyms. If you’re in a hurry, do a word search using your browser’s Find command. Have fun!

Watch out for “faux amis” or false-friends. There are a handful of emoticons that mean different things in different IM clients. You could be sending the wrong message! Also note that some smileys are case-sensitive! Graphical emoticons do not seem to show in AOL Express… Note that all my Trillian test were done using the default skins.

A final word: there are only a dozen common emoticons…

Cheers, Blake

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Amazingly there are only about 10 to 20 emoticons that are common to the major IM clients!

If you don’t want to memorize a lot of emoticons, just concentrate on the top 10 or so.

This legend is included at the bottom of every page within this site.

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