Submitting Emoji Character Proposals
Anyone can submit a proposal for an emoji character, but
the proposal needs to have all the right information for it to
have a chance of being accepted.
This page describes the process of submitting a proposal,
including how to submit a proposal,
the selection factors that
need to be addressed in each proposal, guidelines on presenting
evidence of frequency, and
the process and timeline for
acceptance. It also describes the process of proposing that existing characters be changed to be
To submit a proposal for a new emoji character, prepare a
document with the following information, and submit as per How
to Submit Proposal Documents.
- A section that addresses selection factors A through I
in Selection Factors, and for
each one provides evidence as to what degree each of the
proposed characters would satisfy that factor.
- A set of images for the proposed characters. These are
to illustrate how each character might be displayed. See below
- Suggest where the character should be sorted in Emoji
Ordering, namely in which category (such as cat-face)
and after which character in that category (such as
WEARY CAT FACE).
- Any other information that would be helpful, such as
A group of related emoji should be put into a single proposal,
especially where the goal is to complete a set (see Completeness).
Some useful examples are the proposals for Dumpling,
emoji characters, and Female
Runner. However, please do not
include specific code points (U+XXXXX) for proposed characters
or the filled-out Proposal Summary Form. The committee will
assign code points and fill out the Proposal Summary Form later
in the process. The original proposal may then be amended to
include those, as was done with the Food
emoji characters example.
Initially, the Unicode emoji characters were selected
primarily on the basis of compatibility. The selection factors
have been broadened to include other factors; here are the
factors that the Emoji subcommittee now considers when
assessing possible new emoji. None of these factors alone
determine eligibility or priority: all of the factors together
are taken into consideration. The most important factors for
inclusion are compatibility and expected usage level.
Factors for Inclusion
Are these needed for compatibility with high-use emoji in
existing systems, such as Snapchat, Twitter, or QQ?
- For example,
FACE WITH ROLLING EYES.
- There are many cases where characters are or have
been added for compatibility alone, such as
SQUARED NEW, or
CONSTRUCTION WORKER. In such cases, this is an overriding
- Expected usage level. (See
questions below) Measures that can be presented as evidence
include the following:
- Frequency. Is there a high expected
frequency of use?
- This is the most important factor for inclusion,
- There should be high expected usage worldwide, or
high expected usage within a particular community of users
(such as Indonesians).
- Multiple usages. Does the candidate
emoji have notable metaphorical references or symbolism?
- For example,
SHARK is not necessarily only the animal, but also used
for a huckster, in jumping the shark, card shark, loan
shark, etc. The
PIG FACE, or
RABBIT FACE may be used to evoke positive feelings, while
SPIDER may used to evoke negative feelings.
- References for use as an archetype, metaphorical
use, and symbolism should be supplied.
distinctiveness. Is there a clearly recognizable
image of a physical object that could serve as a paradigm,
one that would be distinct enough from other emoji?
- For example, CASSOULET or STEW probably
couldn’t be easily distinguished from
POT OF FOOD.
- Simple words (“NEW”) or abstract symbols
(“∰”) would not qualify as emoji.
- Note that objects often may represent activities or
modifiers, such as CRYING
FACE for crying or
RUNNER for running.
- Completeness. Does
the proposed pictograph fill a gap in existing types of
- In Unicode 8.0, for example, five emoji were added
to complete the zodiac, including
- The goal is iconic representation of large
categories, not completeness in the sense of filling
out the categories of a scientific or taxonomic
classification system. Proposals should not attempt to make
distinctions that are too narrow. For example, there are
emoji for hearts typically drawn as purple, blue, green,
yellow, red, and (as a candidate) orange; there is no need
for finer gradations of color.
- Frequently requested.
Is it often requested of the Unicode Consortium, or
of Unicode member companies?
- For example,
HOT DOG or
- Petitions are only considered as possible
indications of potential frequency of usage, among the other
- Citations of petition results should provide
evidence as to how reliable the petition mechanism is (in
terms of preventing duplicates or robovotes) and account to
what extent the results could be skewed by commercial
promotion of the petition.
- There is a misperception that such petitions play a
large role in selecting emoji. For example, the commercial
TACO played no part in its selection, because there was no
evidence of reliability.
Factors for Exclusion
specific. Is the
proposed character overly specific?
- For example,
SUSHI represents sushi in general, although images
frequently show a specific type, such as Maguro. Adding
SABA, HAMACHI, SAKE, AMAEBI and others would be overly
- Open-ended. Is it
just one of many, with no special reason to favor it over
others of that type?
Representable. Can the concept be represented by
another emoji or sequence?
- For example, a crying baby can already be
CRYING FACE + BABY
- A building associated with a particular religion
might be represented by a
PLACE OF WORSHIP emoji followed by a one of the many
religious symbols in Unicode.
- Halloween could be represented by either just
JACK-O-LANTERN, or a sequence of
JACK-O-LANTERN + GHOST.
- Note: An image combining two or
more other emoji can be represented by an emoji
zwj sequence. See examples.
Such images are already representable, and do not have to be
approved by the Unicode Consortium. They can be requested of
- Logos, brands, UI
icons, signage, specific people, deities. Are the
images unsuitable for encoding as characters?
- Images such as company logos, or those showing
company brands as part or all of the image, or images of
products strongly associated with a particular brand.
- UI icons such as Material
Design Icons, Winjs
Icons, or Font
Awesome Icons, which are often discarded or modified to
meet evolving UI needs
- Signage such as .
See also Slate’s The
Big Red Word vs. the Little Green Man
- Note that symbols used in signage or user
interfaces may be encoded in Unicode for reasons
unconnected with their use as emoji.
- Specific people, whether historic or living
Is the expected level of usage likely to continue into the
future, or would it just be a fad?
- Transient or faddish symbols are poor candidates for
Before approving as candidates or adding to a release of Unicode, other considerations are taken into account. See UTC
Different techiques can be used as evidence that the proposed
emoji character is likely to be be widely used. The basic goal
is to establish the expected frequency of usage compared to a
commonly-used emoji of the same type. Thus for a proposed
HOT DOG emoji, one can compare against an existing emoji for
another food item,
HAMBURGER. The relative frequency is the important
In the case of emoji proposed on the basis of (A) Compatibility,
the relative frequency of usage on the respective platform
should be supplied. If hard data cannot be supplied, a estimate
with rationale should be provided.
Here are some examples of services you can use. These are not
the only methods that can be used as evidence of expected
frequency, but proposals should not “cherry-pick”. That is,
don't pick only the data that favors the proposed
character—present all the available evidence you can find.
- Compare related terms using “Image Search”
- Example: search hot
dog vs hamburger, to get two figures (eg, 55 and 66), and
divide to get 83%
- Compare related items with separate searches for
- Example: perform two searchs for hotdog and then hamburger, to get two figures (eg, 1.3M
and 1M), and divide to get 130%
Remember to try related words, both “burger” and
“hamburger", for example. It may also be useful to try
different languages, such as “paella” vs “hamburguesa”.
Images must be in PNG format with dimensions of 72x72
pixels. The image should extend to the sides of the cell (ie,
no extra padding). Outside of the main image it should be
Black and white images should be in the style used by the
Unicode charts. For examples, see Full
The file names must have the following format:
is a lowercase word consisting of characters in a..z. The
is the lowercase hex value for a proposer-assigned ID in the
range e000-efff; when an official code point is assigned, the
file name will be updated to use that instead. For images
associated with sequences of existing emoji characters,
should use the lowercase value of the code points, separated by
_, with all “fe0f” values removed.
|Black & White
emojixpress, apple, …
|Hex Code Points
||proposer-assigned id (
e000, e001, ...
The images must have appropriate licenses so they can be used
on the Unicode site, such as “public domain”, “licensed for
non-commercial use”, “free to share and use”, or equivalent (CC:
CC0, or BY*). If you have the rights to the image,
state that it meets those conditions, otherwise include a link
to a page indicating that the license for the image does meet
Image Search (or equivalent) can be useful for finding
choose Search Tools>Type>Clipart
You can try filtering for usage rights or license.
Sometimes that’s too narrow, and you can find more images with
a general search, clicking through to determine whether the
license is suitable.
The following describes the process and approximate
timeline for new emoji characters.
- Submitter reviews Submitting
a Proposal (especially the examples), and writes up a
proposal. To be considered for inclusion in the
release of the Unicode Standard for a given year, proposals
must be submitted before October 1 of the preceding year.
Proposals should be submitted as early as possible in the
year, however, to allow time for modifications as described
- The proposal is submitted to the Unicode Consortium
and then referred to the Emoji subcommittee, which meets weekly
by phone. However, there is typically a very full agenda, and
it can take up to 30 days (and sometimes longer) for the
initial review of a new proposal.
- Not every proposal will be forwarded to the UTC for
consideration. Some proposals that clearly do not meet the
selection critieria, such as proposals to add emoji characters
representing logos, specific persons, or deities, are
excluded, and the author is informed that the proposal is
- Other proposals typically need improvements and
clarifications, so the author is informed of problems and
asked to make corrections.
- Once the proposal is well-formed, and has made a
sufficiently strong case for a new emoji character, then it is
submitted to the UTC.
- The UTC has a quarterly
week-long meeting, typically held in the middle of each
quarter. Consideration of proposals to add emoji characters is
only a portion of the full UTC agenda for each meeting.
- Proposals are discussed, and may be accepted as
candidates, or be declined, or returned for more work. Often
it takes more than one UTC meeting to get consensus.
- Compared to most other characters in Unicode, there is
greater public awareness of new emoji characters, and a high
expectation of support for them from major vendors. However,
the cost to such vendors of supporting new emoji characters is
also much higher than for most other Unicode characters,
especially on devices with limited memory.
- Thus in addition to the selection factors, before
approving a new emoji character the Unicode Technical Committee
needs to expect wide deployment: that major vendors would plan
to include the proposed emoji character into very widely
deployed fonts and input methods (keyboards / palettes /
- The committee may balance the choices of emoji in a given set of candidates or release. For example, rather than 15 different breeds of dogs, the committee might choose to have some faces, some clothing, other animals, food items, transport items, and sports.
- Those proposals that are accepted as candidates are
added to Emoji Candidates, with
placeholder code points such as X00002.
- At the Q4 UTC meeting each year, a decision is made
about which of the candidates to accept for encoding in the
following year’s Unicode release. Tentative code points are
assigned to those accepted. At this meeting the UTC may accept
some emoji for encoding, as long as the proposals have been
submitted before October 1.
- The character properties of the characters are
specified and appear in the beta property data files for the
next release of the Unicode Standard. Implementers have a
chance to make sure that those properties are correct, and
will not cause problems.
- After the period for the beta review closes, the UTC
determines the final code points and properties, so that the
characters are ready for deployment.
- The new emoji characters are published in a version of
Unicode at the end of June. Once published, they are a
permanent part of the standard. Information about them is
added to Full
- Unicode member companies may often start preparing
fonts, keyboards, and other supporting software for the new
emoji characters somewhat before the release, depending on
their release schedule.
The following is a sample timeline for a typical
|A proposal for 5 emoji characters is submitted to
Unicode and referred to the Emoji subcommittee. The proposal
goes through three revisions, and is then accepted by the
Emoji subcommittee for forwarding to the UTC.
||The UTC considers the proposal, and accepts 3 of the
characters as candidates. It asks the Emoji subcommittee to
work with the author further on the remaining 2.
||A revised proposal for one of the remaining
characters is accepted by the UTC, so it is also now a
candidate. The other one is declined. The draft names of the
first 3 characters are changed.
||The UTC accepts 3 of the candidates for encoding,
assigns tentative code points, and fills out the Proposal
Summary Forms. The 4th remains on the candidate list and may
be accepted for encoding in a future version of Unicode.
||The draft Unicode Character Properties are completed
for the 3 emoji characters, and included in the beta of
||The 3 approved characters appear in Unicode v10.0 at
the end of the quarter.
||Vendors begin to support the 3 new characters.
Normally proposals need to be submitted to the Emoji
subcommittee at least a year before they can appear in a
The submission process above is for new emoji characters.
However, some characters are already encoded in Unicode; they
just aren’t considered emoji (that is, they don’t
properties). These include the chess characters, for
Proposing to change the emoji
properties to include existing characters or sequences as
emoji is a much simpler process than submitting a proposal for
a new character. The proposal
need only provide evidence that an emoji presentation of those
characters or sequences would be supported by a reasonably
broad set of vendors. The timeline is also shorter. However,
proposals for changing emoji properties must be submitted
before the Q1 UTC meeting of any year to be candidates for
release in that year.