Emoji Etiquette: How and When to Use Emojis

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emoji etiquette, how to use emojis, rules of behavior, http://ExploringExpression.com communication


They are the newest grammatical craze sweeping the world. In fact, they have become so popular that the Oxford dictionary named their 2015 word of the year as the tears of joy emoji. (A fact which I vehemently disagree with, but that’s another matter.) With a new and exciting communication tool at our disposal it is important to understand the ettiquite surrounding the use of the emoji.

The use of pictures and symbols to communicate has been around for thousands of years. (For more on this, check out our article on the Evolution of theEmoji). With its long history and recent popularity, the use of the emoji poses a big question. When is it okay to use emojis? In this article we are going to go through when and when it is not okay to use emojis and how to use them when it is okay.


emoji etiquette, how to use emojis, rules of behavior, http://ExploringExpression.com communication

When is it Okay to Use Emojis

More and more situations are allowing for the use of emojis.  Emoji’s are suitable for texts and emails that are casual in nature.  Emoji’s can lighten the mood and lend a whimsical touch to your message.  Here are some other situations in which it would be appropriate to use emojis.

Text messages

In text messages it is perfectly okay to use emojis. Emojis are a casual tool of communication and text messages are a very casual form of communication.  Emojis are commonly used at the end of sentences to express emotions. However, a lot of text messages are only a sentence or two long. So if you are writing a paragraph long text message emojis should not go after every sentence.

As replacements for one word answers

In a text message sometimes people respond with one word replies like yes, no, okay and maybe. Some of these can be replaced with emojis.

Yes can be replaced with a thumbs up

No can be replaced with a thumb down

Hooray can be replaced with streamers

Most animals can be replaced with their emoji counterpart.

When is it NOT Okay to Use Emojis

Handwritten letters

In no way or circumstance should one ever use emojis in a handwritten letter. The only way someone could ever use emojis in a letter is if they printed some out and glues them to the letter. That can ruin the flow of the letter when a handwritten letter contains enough emotion in it. You don’t need to use emojis simply because you can easily express emotion in letters without fear of getting too lengthy.

Business emails

In most business emails t is not okay to use emojis. The rule “when in doubt leave it out’ applies here. However there are a few exceptions. If you send and email to a colleague you are close to saying ‘happy birthday’ it is okay to use an emoji. If you are on the fence about using an emoji in n email ask yourself these two questions.

How important is the person you’re sending it to? If you’re ending it to a close colleague or a boss who’s your friend, then maybe, however if the email is to the CEO of your company, leave it out. The more important the person is, the less okay it is to use emojis

The second question is how important is the message? An email saying happy birthday is not important, however an email about a project you were asked to do, or just emails of an official nature are very important and should not contain emojis whatsoever. Again, the more important or official the message is the less okay it is to use emojis.

Books, short stories, poems, etc.

Unless emojis are a VITAL part of this piece of creative writing, i is not okay to use emojis.


Summary of Emoji Do’s and Don’ts


  1. Use them at the end of your text messages to convey emotion
  2. Use them as replacements for words or short phrases in casual conversations


Emoji use is very flexible but there are a few rules that shouldn’t ever be broken

  1. Don’t use them in official emails
  2. Don’t use them in a serious text messages. These messages include, death, suicidal thoughts, break ups, etc.
  3. Don’t overuse them, it can take meaningful content out of the conversation.

emoji etiquette, how to use emojis, rules of behavior, http://ExploringExpression.com communication

Emojis can be used to add emotion to your messages. However these emojis should not be used in serious or official messages. As long as you use emojis carefully, they can do a lot to your messages. But remember: When in doubt, leave it out.


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