If you’re struggling to think of just how to say how happy you are, how devastated you feel or just how keen you are to party in words, Facebook Messenger gives you a huge range of emoticons to use instead.

There are now over 1,200 emojis and emoticons that can be used, from a thumbs up to a pizza and smiling, laughing or crying faces in a range of skin tones.

[Read more: Tech terms explained - What is… an emoji?]

What is a Facebook Messenger emoticon? 

An emoticon is a small image or icon which is used electronically, usually depicting emotions. Not to be confused with an emoji which is usually a small picture, and comes from the Japanese language where it means 'picture word'.

To find the emoticons, click on the bottom left-hand corner of Facebook Messenger and click the smiley icon. You can then sort through the emoticons and emojis from Recently Sent, Smileys & People, Animals & Nature, Food & Drink, Activities, Travel & Places, Objects, Symbols and Flags by clicking along the bottom.

Where to find emoticons

How do emoticons automatically appear? 

When you start writing a message on Facebook Messenger, emojis automatically come up if you use certain symbols. For instance, type :) and it becomes a smiley face, :D and it’s a grinning face, :( for a sad face, :O for surprise, :/ for puzzled and :p for tongue sticking out.

Emoticons

Other options include <3 for a heart, ;) for a wink and :o for a gasp.

[Read more: Here's how to get the rainbow reaction emoji on Facebook]

How do you choose your emoji skin colour? 

In June 2016 Facebook announced that you can now pick the skin colour of your emojis in an attempt to “make the emojis you send a better representation of our world”, according to the company’s blog post.

To do this on your desktop you need to go to Facebook Messenger (www.facebook.com/messages), click on the cog in the top left hand corner and click Settings.

Emoji skin colour

At the bottom of the menu you find Emoji and you then click the skin colour you want your emoji to be.

Emoticons

On iOS you open your Facebook Messenger app and click the profile picture of yourself in the top left hand corner. Then scroll down to find Photos, videos and emoji. After you click on that click on Emoji options and choose the skin colour.

Facebook phone

 

How do you stop emoticons appearing automatically?

Unfortunately Facebook no longer allows you to disable the auto-emojis as a feature. However, if you want to write a character without the symbol appearing you can always double up the symbols. For instance a smiley becomes :)) rather than :), and a sad face is :(( rather than :(.

[Read more: Guess the opera from the emoji for World Emoji Day]