Do You Use Emoticons In Emails & Chats? [MakeUseOf Poll]

polls   Do You Use Emoticons In Emails & Chats? [MakeUseOf Poll]Last week we asked you whether, in your opinion, academic research papers should be free online or not. The results, while somewhat expected, make for one of the most unanimous polls we’ve ever had on MakeUseOf, with over 90% of the voters voting for the same option.

Out of 642 votes in total, this was the breakdown: 3% said that research articles should not be free online, 4% said they’re not sure, and 93% of the voters (that’s nearly 600 people, in case you’re curious) think that yes, research articles should be free online.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

In case you’ve missed it, there’s quite an interesting discussion in the polls comments. If you’re interested in the subject, they’re all worth a read. As usual, don’t forget to check out last week’s best comment by Dee Wheat who won 150 reward points!

poll results feb 16   Do You Use Emoticons In Emails & Chats? [MakeUseOf Poll]

This week’s poll question is: Do You Use Emoticons In Emails & Chats?

Want to make some extra MakeUseOf reward points? The most useful comment on the poll will be awarded 150 points!

Emoticons are not a new thing, but I got to thinking about them this week following the addition of over a 1,000 new ones to Gmail. Emoticons had their ups and downs, but they refuse to go out of style and insist on remaining relevant even after several decades. What about you, do you use them? When answering this poll, please focus on picture emoticons, or emoji, and not on ones we ALL use from time to time such as “:)”.

So why do you like using emoticons? Why do you refrain from doing so? Do you hate emoticons with a passion? Do you find it hard to express yourself without them? Share your opinions!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.


Alan Wade

Apart from the odd :) I dont actually think about using them. I think it makes email look very tacky.

Eric Hegeman

I will use them on occasion in chats, almost never in e-mails. There are times when they help convey what you are saying better than words alone will. But that said, there is such a thing as using them too much. When you have to put one in every sentence or worse, several of them in every sentence that is too much.

Aleksandra Huey

only in communication with friends and family, business communication looks very unprofessional with them.


I never use chat, but in my emails to family and friends, I do use them. Only a max. of about 3 in any given email.

I agree with what Eric said: even though one shouldn’t over use them, they are often helpful in conveying the ‘attitude’ behind the words (in case the words might be too easily misunderstood). A smile, a grin, a funny-looking surprised face can lighten the mood of a comment so that there’s less chance of the reader taking offense at what was intended to be an inoffensive comment.


I try to keep my use of emoticons to a minimum. The dumbing down of the youth coming up in America seems to have sent grammar and spelling to the wayside of education. I blame it on cell phones and texting. When they were charged per letter or length of text, then the abbreviations became more prominent.
I just do not like it at all. Then again, I am old.

Stephan Huebner

How do smileys relate do “dumbing down”? If that were the case than replacing any (lengthy) explanation with graphics would fall in the same category. Why should one have to needlessly explain the mood under which an expression was written when a smiley does that just fine?

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Yeah. I would place abbreviations and smileys/emoticons into different categories. They serve different purpose. I’m not against abbreviations as long as it’s easy to understand, and done on purpose. It’s contagious, but wise kids would learn proper grammar instead of using ‘texting grammar’ 24/7.

Yaara Lancet

I don’t think anyone was ever charged for texts my length of message or character. Is that what you meant?

I think many of the emoticons and abbrevations people use today were actually born way before texting, in chats. I remember using some when I was young on IRC. We can blame certain devices, but it’s happening because we’re communicating by typing more and more. Different kinds of abbreviations always existed, they just looked smarter, I think. :)


A written sentence cannot convey a range of feelings or emotions in the same manner as when that same sentence is spoken. Emoticons allow us to indicate sarcasm, joy, surprise, etc. So, yes, I do use emoticons but only in my posts. As a couple of posters stated, emoticons in e-mails, other than to one’s close friends and family, seem a bit tacky and definitely a big no-no in business messages.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

It’s jarring to see emoticons in an otherwise flat-toned business message, but I can justify it in newsletters/announcements trying to sound friendly and casual. Done sparingly, of course. There is time and place for every single thing.

Jonathon BĂ©asse

When chatting or emailing friends/family I will use emoticons, but sparingly.

If I were to send an email to from my business account to another business account, I would refrain from emoticons. It just doesn’t look professional in my opinion.

Deborah Herrick

I don’t use them often and then only with my grandkids who appreciate them more. I can’t figure out how to pick them or use them quickly! So I only use the frown, smile, or wink.

Robert Owens

I never use them, and really never thought about using them. Heck, I don’t even know how to put them in emails! (I suppose I could look it up.)

I do, of course, use the occasional “typed” smiley, but this is something I can do without breaking my “typing train.” I would think that the extra step(s) of hunting down an appropriate emoticon would break my flow while I’m typing. It’s extra work.

Also, I don’t want my emails to be more emotionally hyper-expressive than I actually am!


(I had to throw one in there!)

Carmen LucĂ­a Rivera

Email – every once in a while, mostly when writing to my sister.
Chats – all the time ;)

Louis Wang

In chats usually. I only use it to show that I’m kidding or not offended by whatever is being said. It’s like smiling to take the sting off a potential insult.

Chris Hoffman

Old-school text emoticons are always the way to go. =^_^=

You kids these days and your pictures. x.x


As to what I use, I’m with Chris and it’s only one to indicate a joke or being pleased about something. Old school: or

Yaara Lancet

Those take a lot of typing! I just make do with plain old :). The funny thing is that when i write text messages, I go to the trouble of writing :), when inserting a picture emoticon is actually easier these days…

Rajaa Chowdhury

Yes I use emoticons a lot in my chats and personal emails (I avoid it totally in official emails, as not been required and neither is it appropriate as per official communication protocol). Why do I use them? In voice communication, the emotions are made clear with voice modulations, however in textual communication, we are devoid of that advantage. So emoticons play a huge role to show the correct emotion and help avoid a lot of mis-communication. For Example, if I just write idiot and if I write idiot :P to my friend, they mean totally different. That’s why emoticons are so important.

Stephan Huebner

Yes, I use them often, more often in chats than in Emails though. I see nothing wrong with using them to express my mood. Especially with ambiguous sentences they can make all the difference. Plus, using a simple laughing-smiley makes criticising something a bit less harsh, imho.

Mac Witty

In chats from time to time but not very often in e-mails. Do use them more often when commenting on blogs to make sure people understand and to cheer things up a bit


The HR individual at my company uses the :) in every single communication, email or typed, that they send out. About every other line ends with a :). Even when they really aren’t necessary. :) It actually looks really unprofessional in my opinion. :)

Yaara Lancet

That’s pretty funny. :) Oh no, I did it too!

Rama moorthy

MUO guys , where you getting questions like these ..?although its fun, really nice and useful ..

Yaara Lancet

Like I wrote in the poll itself, I thought about it after seeing all the new emoticons Gmail added recently.

If you have ideas for good questions, we’re always open for suggestions.

Rama moorthy

Ya sure ..

Debkumar Bhadra

I use emoticons rarely.

Aska Nag

Yes, every day I use Skype. In my opinion do without the smilies in the communication is totally impossible, but we should make it clear the interlocutor of our emotions. It seems to me smiles it is an essential part of communication.
Best regards!

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I use it every now and then when texting or chatting, as the mood strikes. Sometimes it’s so much better with emoji and I can avoid misunderstanding (because our feelings aren’t that obvious in written text) but it depends on who I’m talking to. All OK to friends but definitely not to teachers or any superior. I’ll limit myself to one or two emoji per message, because overusing it will cause severe confusion over the meaning of the message, and difficult to read (read: Annoying!)