Emoji SubCommittee ReOpens Submissions Process
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Friday, 23 April 2021

The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee (ESC) has restarted reviewing emoji submissions following a break because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the chair of the committee, Jennifer Daniel, has released some guidance on how to make a successful submission if you have an idea for a new emoji. 

Last year's crop of new emojis was delayed when the Unicode Consortium held up Unicode 14.0 by six months due to Covid-19. Normally, new emojis are approved in January, and the various platforms then work on them until September when they are released on the updated versions of iOS and Android that appear around then.  The pandemic meant that this year we'll get only a minor release of 217 new emojis.


To prevent such an emoji desert next year, the subcommittee is now looking for new suggestions, and to help potential suggestions be successful has come up with a list of dos and don'ts.

The criteria start with having emojis that have multiple uses, or as the chair of the committee says:

"Does the candidate emoji have notable metaphorical references or symbolism and not merely represent itself?" 

You'd think that after the 'alternative' uses some emojis are put to, this would be a minefield they'd want to avoid, but who knows.

The second suggestion is that your proposed emoji could be used in sequences with other emoji to convey something new.


Breaking new ground, as in representing something that is not already representable, is the next suggestion, which given the frankly weird things that are already represented seems unlikely, but a worthy aim.

Next on the list is distinctiveness, with the injunction that you should:

"Explain how and why this emoji represents a distinct, visually iconic entity Perhaps, the people of Argentina see “mate” but folks unfamiliar with the drink on the other side of the world understand it to be “coconut drink.” Iconic for different reasons that suit a global audience."

I do wonder if the committee members realize how high a percentage of emoji users are confused as to what 95% of the emojis are, never mind working out if it's mate or coconut drink.

Compatibility with frequently-used emoji in popular existing systems, such as WeChat, Twitter, etc is the next suggestion as a way of getting your work of art considered, along with it being likely to be frequently used. I wonder how the squid emoji passed that one.

Maybe the next criterion, completeness, came into play.  The final piece of advice is that there are lots of reasons why emoji suggestions aren't accepted, including:



So there you go. If you've a better idea than a garbage fire, get designing. This is your chance.



More Information

Unicode Consortium

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Last Updated ( Friday, 23 April 2021 )