A question about punctuation…

I’ll admit it – this has been bugging me for a long time.  I’m no punctuation guru and none of this applies to formal writing, but I really need to know the answer: In emails, social network posts, and blog comment posts, if I write a sentence and place a smiley at the end, does it need further punctuation or not? And where do I put it?

FYI: I’m putting spaces in between the characters so that WordPress does not change them into real smileys.

I love it! : ) (Maybe…)

I love it : )! (I hate this one.)

I love it : )  (A little voice is screaming for something more.)

How about when it’s in parentheses?

I read your book (loved it : )) and have a question .  (Ack!)

I read your book (loved it : ) ) and have a question.  (Nope.)

Okay, so you might think I’m picking nits here, but I’m not the only one. Searching the internet, I found over 93,000 articles relating to this question.

It seems there is an unofficial solution.  If a smiley is at the end of the sentence, one should replace the end punctuation with the smiley.

     I love it : )

If the smiley is in parenthesis, substitute, though the opinions on what to use as substitutions vary as well:

I read your book (loved it : ]) and have a question.  (Yuck!)


I read your book (loved it : D) and have a question.


I read your book [loved it : )] and have a question.  (I think I hate this, too.)

During my search, I found Netlingo, which lists many more smileys than I ever knew existed. For example, Teletubbies have their own smiley -(:)(0)=8  (never thought I’d be mentioning a Teletubby in one of my blogs) and someone with a mustache and beard would be {:-{)}  My puppy should be referred to as <(-‘.’-)> (look at that one straight on, not sideways.) And here is a scuba diver with hair )8-)

Placing the usual punctuation at the end of a few of those sentences might confuse things, and I think it is possible that I’ve been spending way too much time editing my book – my hand is itching to put periods in.

Maybe rewording the sentence is in order?

     <(-‘.’-)> refers to my puppy.

Okay, now I’m having trouble because I’m not capitalizing the first letter.

     This <(-‘.’-)> refers to my puppy.

Much better… but thinking about all this takes time and with most popular social media, time is not an option.

Maybe I should stick to email?

2 thoughts on “A question about punctuation…

  1. The reason that I like smileys is that I’ve seen so many people misread the tone in which other’s comments were meant to be read in, usually depending on their own mood at the time they read it. For example, sometimes I’ve read a quickly written email or comment when I was tired and irritable and thought it was written in anger, but after a good night’s sleep, it seems like the person was trying to be helpful. If a smiley was in place, there would have been no question. A simple wink can tell me that they person was kidding or meant for the tone to be sarcastic. It would be nice if people had the time to re-word their sentences to show tone the way we try to do before publishing a book, but most aren’t going to have the time do that. Personally, I find smilies very helpful! (Oh, no; there’s another one. Is it smilies or smileys?)


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