Special characters in Facebook, Gmail and Twitter

Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter at least have one thing in common, except for some basic features (such as bold and underline in Gmail), the services support very little embellishment for the texts you type. That's a shame, but it doesn't mean you have to resign yourself to it. With a few handy tricks you can spice up your texts on the sites mentioned in an original way!

1. Twitter

Posts on Twitter don't support formatting at all, you can't even bold or italicize the text. Still, there is a way to insert symbols into Twitter. First, Twitter just supports ASCII code, so when you hold down the Alt key and type in a code, you'll be presented with the corresponding symbol. An overview of ASCII codes can be found at www.asciitable.com. In addition, there is another way, using the website www.twsym.com. Surf to this website and add it to your browser's bookmarks. Surf to Twitter now, log in and start a new message. Open the Twitter Symbols bookmark you just added. Now to get a symbol that you see on this page into Twitter, we're going to copy and paste the old-fashioned way. Double-click a symbol to select it, then Ctrl+C to copy it. Then, by clicking in the Twitter input field and pressing Ctrl+V, you paste the symbol into the message.

You can still insert special characters into your message using ASCII codes or the Twitter Symbols site.

2. Facebook

One of the tricky aspects of Facebook is the fact that the site is constantly changing. That in itself is very nice, because it brings innovation, but certain tricks then suddenly no longer work. For example, you could previously make text in Facebook bold by putting it between asterisks and underlined by putting it between dashes. Facebook has since removed that option (temporarily or not), but the site still contains a lot of hidden emoticons that you may not know about. Just type :putnam: in a message and you see an emoticon from one of the Facebook employees, or (^^^) for the image of a shark. A list of all available Facebook emoticons can be found at www.facebookemoticons.nl. It is useful to know that the ASCII codes as described in the section about Twitter also work on Facebook. The special characters from the website Twitter Symbols also work here, but they are displayed very minuscule in the chat, so it's hardly worth the effort.

Facebook has quite a few emoticons that you may not know exist.

3. Gmail

The email portion of Gmail has some formatting, but the chat portion is completely devoid of that. However, you can also do the necessary tricks here. First, except for the Facebook emoticons, everything we described above works in Gmail chat as well. But Gmail's Labs feature means you can also have a hidden extra at your disposal. Click on Institutions in Gmail (the gear icon) and then again Institutions. Click on the tab labs and type emoji in the search field. The option Extra Emoji is found, then click Switch. Then click on the tab To chat and check if the bottom option Emoticons is enabled. Now when you open a chat in Gmail, you will see an icon with a smiley face at the bottom right. Click on this to open the overview of emoticons. You can choose from three tabs with emoticons in total and clicking on an emoticon will insert it into the chat. Press enter to actually send the emoticon.

Gmail chat has a hidden option for additional emoticons. You need to enable it through Labs!

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