How to Make Faces With Punctuation Marks

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In the past few decades, "faces" made with punctuation (emoticons) have gone from computer-wiz exclusivity to constant use by emailers and texters. Indeed, much of the emoticon's popularity is due the meteoric rise of cellphone texting. Making simple emoticons is easier than you might think. But beware: it can become addictive.

Learn where all of the punctuation marks are on the keyboard. Some of the more commonly used ones are the colon, semicolon, greater- and less-than signs and parentheses. If you're a frequent typist, chances are you have a basic familiarity with where they are, but get in the habit of using them for exclamatory purposes. For example, use a smiley face after a happy statement in lieu of an exclamation mark. On a cell phone, learn how to quickly access the symbols and numbers menu on the text screen or keypad.

Practice the basic faces, such as smiley faces, winks and smirks. A colon serves as the eyes; a semicolon provides the wink. A "close parenthesis" (found on the "0" key) makes for a smile, while the forward slash or back slash makes a smirk. Frowns are made using the "open parenthesis" that's located on the "9" key.

Learn the advanced faces; they're usually easier than you think. For example, the "confused" expression is "O_o" (it's made with a capital "O," a line, and a lower case "o"). Learn how to add a nose: ":-)" (most of the time it's made with the "hyphen" key). Decide which ones you deem most expressive of your personality and communication style.

Work on creating your own faces. It doesn't matter whether they've been done before; just play around in a Word document or a notepad on your computer, or in a draft on your cell phone.

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