The word "emoticon" is a combination of the words "emotion" and "icon." An emoticon is an icon or symbol, usually a face, that helps convey an emotion. People use them online because others can't hear their voices or read their body language, and they want to get their tone across. An emoticon, often called a "smiley" online, is usually inserted within a sentence or body of text or at the end of it. Most e-mail programs have emoticons built into their tool bars.
Create a new e-mail message by clicking on "Compose" or "New email." This will vary depending on the program you use.
Locate the smiley face symbol on your toolbar. If you are in plain text mode, you will not see an emoticon symbol on your toolbar and will need to switch modes. If you are using Gmail, click "Rich formatting" to display a more extensive toolbar. If you are using Hotmail, go to "Tools," and click on "Rich text editor." In Yahoo e-mail, click "Rich text."
Click on the smiley face icon on the toolbar. You will have different smiley faces to choose from. Depending on your e-mail program, you may also choose images such as flowers, hearts or stars. The icon you choose will show up in the body of the email, right where your cursor was last. If you want to move it elsewhere, you can copy and paste it to a different location in the body of the email.
Click on the emoticon to insert it. If you are using some versions of Outlook, you may have to approach this differently. Go to "Insert" from the task menu, and click on "Symbol." Under the font menu, change the font to wingdings. Choose an emoticon.
Use the keyboard to make emoticons. If you don't like the look of the emoticons in the email program you are using, you can just use punctuation. For example, a smiley face can be represented as ":)". There are many more elaborate faces you can make using this method. Check out the list included from Cool Smileys (see Resources). At the bottom of the list, you will also see a link to Japanese emoticons, which are much more complex than many Western ones.
Send your e-mail by clicking "Send." Many people are familiar with basic emoticons such as ":)". The recipient of your e-mail will likely recognise that this is a happy face.
Download even more emoticons. If you are bored with the selection from your e-mail program, there are many services on the web where you can get free emoticons. One site is Smiley Central (see Resources). Some services will allow you to download the emoticons so that they show up in your e-mail program with the other emoticons already there.
There are a lot of spam sites associated with downloading emoticons. If you are constantly redirected to a new website, this is an indication that the site is not legitimate. Downloading files from such sites could put you at risk for getting a virus. There are plenty of free emoticons to download. Be wary of paid sites.