A brief guide to inserting Emojis everywhere!

A collection of resources on how to insert emojis into your documents, when and how to use emojis, and a sprinkle of emoji trivia 🌟
markdown
text-editing
quarto
Author

Cynthia Huang

Published

May 16, 2022

Quarto extension for emoji shortcodes

Since publishing this article, I have since discovered that emoji shortcodes can be added as an rendering extension to the html format as follows:

html:
  from: markdown+emoji

This means you can write :smile: in your document, and it will render to 😄

I use emojis everywhere. They make me happy. I use them to quickly capture sparks of feelings and idea, to decorate otherwise boring plain-text, to categorise things like to-do tasks and time-blocks, and in my journal to write “emoji stories” about things that happen in my life1. For example, this emoji story is about making seafood ravioli and lasagne from scratch with my partner: 🐟🦐🦪➕👨🏼‍🍳🧑🏻‍🍳🔜🍝🥟.

That is all to say, I’ve spent a non-trivial amount of time working out how to include emojis in things I type, and this post is the a collection of the things I’ve learnt. So, without further ado, here are some resources on how to incorporate emojis into almost everything, plus some bonus emoji opinions and trivia.

Inserting Emojis ⌨️

First up, there are a few ways to include emojis in text that you are typing:

Shortcodes

Shortcodes are codes that allow you to “type” emojis using a short version of the emoji name. For example, :smiley: for 😃.2

Shortcodes are supported in most extended markdown formats and markdown editors:

PRO:

  • Quick once you know the shortcodes.

CON:

  • You need to know and remember the shortcodes, or at least the start of the shortcode for applications that support auto-complete.
  • Shortcodes vary from application to application. This means shortcodes in one flavour of markdown might not render the same way or at all in a different flavour of markdown.3

Some cheatsheets for finding the application-specific shortcode for an emoji:

Emoji Pickers

Emoji pickers are input tools that allow you to browse and select emojis. They can include inline pop-up keyboards and search helpers, or a separate Character/Symbol dialog windows.

Your operating system will likely provide a default emoji picker tool (though they are all annoyingly given different names…):

  • on macOS: use the shortcut CTRL + ATL + SPACE to bring up the Character Viewer
  • on iOS/iPadOS: select the emoji keyboard using Emoji Button or Globe from any text input.
  • on Windows: use the shortcut WINDOWS-KEY + . to bring up the Emoji Panel.

Emojipedia’s Can I Emoji? page links to guides for emoji usage on other common devices.

Some applications also provide emoji pickers, which you can usually access via the SPECIAL CHARACTER item in the INSERT menu, and/or the associated keyboard shortcut.

  • in Rstudio Visual Mode:
    • use the catch-all shortcut ⌘ /emoji to bring up the emoji picker.
    • Alternatively, use the menu sequence Insert -> Special Characters -> Emoji… to bring up an emoji picker.

PRO:

  • Use search terms to find emojis. Great for when you don’t know the exact emoji you want to use, or are looking to find a suitable emoji. If you want more search results, try Emojipedia’s search4.

CON:

  • Slower than shortcodes when inserting frequently used emojis.
  • The picker will usually close after you insert one emoji, so you need to open the picker repeatedly if you are inserting multiple emojis.

Copy-Paste

When all else fails you can try to copy-paste the emoji from somewhere like Emojipedia. Basically any application that supports UTF-8 encoding should display emoji characters. I don’t really consider this a viable method though because it is too slow and cumbersome to use in day-to-day workflows.

Comparing Input Methods

Exactly which methods are available depends on what application or file format you are working with. Keep in mind that support for displaying or rendering emojis doesn’t automatically mean it will be easy to insert emojis.

My general strategy for figuring out how to add emojis into a particular workflow is to Google “emoji” + whichever program/markup/environment I’m working in. If you’re using a tool that supports markdown, try searching the Tools directory of The Markdown Guide.

Personally, I tend to use shortcodes for frequently used and more “generic” emojis, but switch to an emoji picker if I want to browse, or to insert a specific version of an emoji (e.g. picking a different skin-tone).

Words of Caution ⚠️

Of course, emojis should be used with caution. Here are a few things the internet says to keep in mind when using emojis5:

Lost in Translation

Not only do different people interpret emojis differently, they might not even be looking at the same image as you because different platforms and applications render emojis differently.

Accessibility

Many vision impaired individuals use screen-readers to access digital content including emojis. This is something to keep in mind if you are including emojis in text intended for a broader audience, or in communication with someone you know might use a screen reader. Two important and relatively easy to implement tips I’ve come across are putting important information BEFORE any emojis, and limiting the number of emojis you use.6

Matters of Taste

People come up with all sorts of creative ways to use emojis, and as with all things on the internet, other people have opinions. I don’t agree with prescribing rules for how people use emojis so I haven’t linked to anyone decrying the alleged demise of “proper” communication due to emoji usage 🙄. However, the following posts did give me some food for thought.

Emoji Trivia 🎰

Lastly, some trivia about how new emojis get added to the Unicode Standard,

the emoji “math” that powers skin-tone modifications and multiple people emojis,

and some cool things people have done with emojis:

References

Kralj Novak, Petra, Jasmina Smailović, Borut Sluban, and Igor Mozetič. 2015. “Sentiment of Emojis.” Edited by Matjaz Perc. PLOS ONE 10 (12): e0144296. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0144296.

Footnotes

  1. It’s actually great for processing things I don’t have the bandwidth to journal about. When too much is going on my brain reverts to pictographs: 🤯🙅🏻📝🙆🏻🖼️🥰↩︎

  2. See Emojipedia - Shortcodes for more details.↩︎

  3. The Markdown Guide does warn you… 📱💬💃🏻🔜☎️👀👯❓😕↩︎

  4. I’m including Emojipedia over EmojiGuide because Emojipedia is much more comprehensive, has fewer ads, is transparent about who own and runs the website, and is also a voting member of the Unicode Consortium (who make all the descisions about emoji standards).↩︎

  5. Personally, I avoid most of these issues by using emojis primarily for self-expression and decoration rather than communication 🤷🏻↩︎

  6. ASIDE: couldn’t we make screen-readers that just say “three angry face emojis” instead of just repeating “angry face angry face angry face”?↩︎

  7. I like emojis as bullet points because the little bit of color makes me happy, and I don’t mind if the emoji association is perfect. I do unfortunately have to agree readability probably suffers when you replace punctuation with emojis… but who’s gonna stop me?! 😆↩︎

  8. See (Kralj Novak et al. 2015) for details on how they constructed the senitment measures.↩︎

  9. from The best emoji quiz questions: a definitive list by Jade Briggs for Cosmopolitan↩︎