Emoji are not born, they are made
Proposals for new emoji are now open, April 4-July 31
It’s hard to believe that just as Emoji 14.0 begins to appear on your device of choice this year, the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee [ESC] has already begun to plan for Emoji 16.0. That’s right, as of this week applications to submit ideas for new emoji are open through July 31, 2022! 👁️📝👁️
While I’ve written about this in the past and the criteria remains the same, it seems like a good time for a reminder for those of you who are unicode-curious. How do you ensure your proposal is the best it can be? Well, here are some tips for consideration if you are preparing a proposal.
Check whether the emoji already exists!
✅ First: See if it’s already been approved.
🤔 Second, is it being reviewed?
🧑🏾🏫 Tip: Don’t skip any of the fields in the form! Incomplete proposals won’t be processed and will be returned. The ESC team members get a lot of submissions and complete proposals help them evaluate the submissions.
Be sure your proposal meets the criteria for consideration.
We recommend being faithful to the criteria for inclusion as much as possible and to consult the Emoji Subcommittee’s priorities, guidelines, strategies, reports, and audits. Many of the new provisional candidates for Emoji 15.0 are the result of these documents:pink heart, shaking face, rightwards pushing hand. The following are just some of the many considerations for writing a compelling proposal:
Does the candidate emoji have significant metaphorical references or symbolism and not merely represent itself?
Use in sequences
How is the emoji used with other emoji to communicate something new?
Breaking new ground
Does the emoji represent something that is not already representable?
Explain how and why this emoji represents a distinct, visually iconic entity that is relevant to a global audience
Is it needed for compatibility with frequently-used emoji in popular existing systems, such as WeChat, Twitter, etc.
Frequency of Use
Is there a high frequency of use? There should be empirical evidence of high usage in literature, movies, graphic novels, etc. worldwide.
Examples can be found via Unicode’s “Selection Factors”
Well, let’s get going! How do I propose an emoji?
What happens if my proposal wasn’t selected?
We recognize that it will come as a disappointment if your proposal is not one of the few selected for inclusion. 💕 There are loads of reasons why this may have happened.
➕ It can already be represented by a sequence
(Ex. Garbage fire 🗑️🔥, Can of worms 🥫🪱, solar energy ☀️⚡)
🔍 It’s too specific
We can’t add every type of flower, every breed of dog, every color of drink
💰 Very few are selected
Roughly thirty emoji characters are added each year
🐣 It’s a transient concept
Think less “memes” and more “stable long-standing concepts”. Can you cite how this concept has existed in a communicative manner such as literature, movies, graphic novels, etc.?
♾️ It’s open-ended
There is no compelling evidence to add it over others of a similar type
❌ Many other factors for exclusion
Why can’t we make EVERYTHING an emoji?
Any emoji additions have to take into consideration usage frequency, trade-offs with other choices, font file size, and the burden on developers (and users!) to make it easier to send and receive emoji. That’s why the Emoji Subcommittee set out to reduce the number of emoji we encode in any given year.
Reconciling the rapid, transient nature of modern communication with the formal, methodical process required by a standards body like the Unicode Consortium is the name of the game these days. Until the sending and receiving of images is standardized in some manner so you can send any image in the world alongside your text messages not just code points ... well, Unicode is here for the world’s emoji character needs. 🫂💖