Friday, July 30, 2010

The Chicago Manual of Style: ; ) Issues

So, last night Steph, Hot Stuff, and I were talking about the usage rules behind emoticons. You know, those little smiley or frowny faces you make with punctuation to let people know that you are, well, smiling or frowning along with what you're typing. They're like the picturades-version of "lol".

We decided it was high time there were usage rules for emoticons, contacted The Chicago Manual of Style, and are very, very pleased that our entry is making the next edition*.


6.99 Emoticons. Expressive punctuation to denote happiness, friendliness, teasing, anger, or sadness is communicated using a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. Although experts are still undecided on the inclusion of noses, for example :-) versus :) or even : ) (and the less common and far more polarizing use of the "bubble nose" such as :o) or the aggravatingly off-center :0) and their ilk), most agree that, used in the correct circumstances, emoticons are an acceptable substitute for more accurate and expressive language. These circumstances are only in the most informal of written communication. For example, within a blog post or an original tweet, an emoticon should never be used. The writer should be able to express themselves adequately without resorting to an angry face >: (. However, when responding to personalized tweets or comments on the blog post in question, an emoticon as emotional shorthand is perfectly acceptable.

The other day my downstairs neighbor made the trip up to inform me that my children's habit of walking on her ceiling was simply unacceptable. Needless to say, I was a little pissed off.

Note: no emoticons were necessary or appropriate in the post itself. But an acceptable comment would be:

Mean people suck : (

To which the original poster could then reply:

I know, right? ; )

The use of the "winking" face indicates that the commenter is no longer angry and has a playful sense of humor about the whole thing, and is much easier than saying, "I know, right? But don't worry, I am no longer angry and have a playful sense of humor about the whole thing now."

Note: Emoticons are especially useful when delivering short "thank you" tweets, making them seem friendlier and less formal. Emoticons are also highly valued when delivered in the margins of an editorially reviewed manuscript.

So there you have it. Usage rules for emoticons!

I know. You wish you could sleepover and my house, too! Tomorrow night I might write an entry on the most effective uses of "Dude."


*That's not actually true. But it ought to be.


sraasch said...

But I LIKE my little smiley faced dudes. :(


But I LIKE my little smiley faced dudes and it makes me frowny faced not to use them.

(My favorite one is this dude:


His eyes are so BUGGY.)

Kathryn said...

A very important subject. Seriously... sometimes when we write, we mistake the tone! ;) :D :P

Looks like you guys had fun with this!

storyqueen said...

I used to be an expert on Dude....'til I gave it up. Had to, you see. (When you get my age, you'll know why.)

Hope you girls are having fun:)
(Did I do that right? ;0)....?)


SM Schmidt said...

The world might never ready for a primer on the uses of dude. It'd ruin the unintentional fun of confusing tourists from out of state.

Tere Kirkland said...

Dude, this was an awesome post. ;)

Have a good weekend!

Karli Dunlin said...

You *probably* already know this, but you are a funny person. Thanks for making me smile. (Also, is there any consensus on the use of emoticons within parenthesis?:)

patdwhite said...


heidikins said...

Hahahaha! This is awesome.

And it took me reading your entry two or three times before I saw the part where it wasn't actually in the Chicago Manual of Style. I think the part where CMS was referencing twitter is what finally tipped me off....oh, and the asterix at the bottom. Ahem. <--Blonde.


DJ's Life in Fiction said...

Haha! This is great! I'll now have to consult this whenever I need to make sure I'm using emoticons correctly.

Suze said...

Now can you invent an emoticon for a wince? I must wince more than anyone else I know, because I'm constantly thinking "I wish I could emoticon a wince right now."

Uses: "I think you're probably going to say 'no' but I need to try anyway", "Do you mind awfully?", and "Ouch - really? That must have hurt."

Winceicon.. anyone? Anyone at all?

Beth Mann said...

Please? Please, please, please do the "Dude" post! This was hilarious.

Ron Smith said...

Now that is brilliant!


Marsha Sigman said...

Dude...this post is awesome.:)

ellen said...

ROFL, yes I do wish

Meadow said...

Bravo :)

Kiersten White said...

Karli--The use of emoticons within parenthetical statements is acceptable unless they come at the very end, in which case it becomes confusing as to whether the end marking is to close the parenthetical statement or to complete the smile face, creating either disembodied (or rather, disem-mouthied) eyes or an incomplete statement.

Sorry, I should have made that clearer. I guess it'll have to wait for the next edition of the CSM.

Ebony McKenna. said...

:-P` poking tongue out, with dribble

:-D) smiling so much you get a double-chin

BrownEyed said...

Loved it!

I will keep an eye on the Manual in the local library now on, you never know they might just give and and take the right decision to publish this ;)

Disclaimer: Oh, and a use of my winky above still does not mean I was joking--absolutely serious!


misha1989 said...

Awesome post! I admit I am a bit lost when it comes to emoticons!
I just started my own blog. Please stop by if you can. Thank you


Em (Super Reader Girl) said...

Kierstin, you (& Hot Stuff & Steph) SO rock! I had been gravitating to the use of "dude" until you used it at the end and now it just seems anticlimactic and redundant. :/

I'm glad you're going to address the use of smileys at the end of parenthetical statements. I am ALWAYS having issues with that!

Glad you guys are having fun! It makes you even more amazingly entertaining. :)


Awesome post!

I like this little guy


and him


Ezmirelda said...

Dude, I love emotcons. :0
Sometimes I'm tempted to add one at the end of a sentence even when I know I shouldn't :D

Rhandi said...

Dude, I am sorry for your lame neighbors, one of the only things that I don't miss about being your neighbor. Soon you will be very rich and famous and you won't have to deal with the lovely folks at LCP anymore (I figure LCP is discreet enough so that none of your stalkers can find you). I can't wait to read your book and I am still bummed that I didn't get on you and read it before you went off and became a star!