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The J Emoticon mystery

Every got an email that had weird ‘J’ letters in it? Didn’t get it? Thought this was some odd emoticon, smiley or new internet shortcut that you are just not aware of?

You are not alone. A lot of people have asked me in the past – what does the letter J mean in emails? Why it is there? Is there a logical explanation that can make sense in this madness.

Here is my answer: The letter J is just how people that don’t use Microsoft Outlook view the smiley generated by Microsoft’s email client. Apparently when you insert a smiley in an outlook message, the actual smiley isn’t graphically embedded in the mail, but a single letter is put there instead. When non-outlook clients or webmail services try to read the message what they see there is the letter ‘J’ and not the actual smiley that was there in the first place.

What do you think? who is the fool here? Should Microsoft stop with the Microsoft-ish behavior and use regular graphic smileys like everybody else? Should other Email services rise to the occasion and make the necessary adjustments so they know how to read this letter and transform the J to a smiley? I am not sure – would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. Avi
    June 5th, 2009 at 01:50 | #1

    They should keep the j as it is. It is already a part of Internet culture. Some people are actually writing Js instead of :) when they want to express a smile or a grin.

  2. Adam
    September 9th, 2009 at 17:28 | #2

    So can us non-outlook people type a J anywhere we want to have a smiley when replying to those people? Will their email client figure it out? J

  3. Amnon
    December 3rd, 2009 at 07:19 | #3

    I too was curious about the new J emoticon, but now I’ve got it: J is a smiley in the Microsoft Wingdings font! Since this font is specific to MS the smiley doesn’t show correctly in other environments.

    MS product shouldn’t send mail that depends on a particular font being installed on the recipient’s computer.

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