[Unicode] Unicode Emoji Tech Site | Site Map | Search
 

Guidelines for Submitting Unicode® Emoji Proposals

This page describes the process and requirements for submitting a proposal for new emoji characters or emoji sequences, including how to submit a proposal, the selection factors that need to be addressed in each proposal, and Guidelines on presenting evidence of frequency.

Emoji submissions are open to the general public, but only a small percentage are accepted for encoding. The Submission needs to be complete and meet the criteria (that is, well-formed) for it to be reviewed. Submissions proposing to emojify existing Unicode characters will not be accepted. If your concept does not require color, consider proposing it as a Unicode character here.

Contents


Making a Submission

Please read this entire page and the linked pages before preparing a proposal.

Important Legal Notice

The Consortium licenses its standards openly and freely under various open-source licenses found here and here. Under these licenses, vendors implement encoded emoji into their products to be used all over the world. Therefore, once an emoji is encoded, it can never be removed. For this reason, the Consortium requires a broad perpetual license in any rights you or others may have in your proposed emoji.

So your first step in this process is to read the Emoji Proposal Agreement & License that you will be required to agree to as part of your Submission. This is an important legal agreement in which you (1) warrant that your proposed emoji is available for free and open licensing, and (2) grant to the Consortium broad rights, specifically a non-exclusive irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license to encode your proposed emoji and to sublicense it under the Consortium’s various open-source licenses.

The Consortium cannot accept any submission that is not accompanied by this warranty and license from you.

Next:

  1. Submit emoji proposals from April 15 through August 31 each year.
  2. Scan the list of Emoji Requests to see whether your proposed emoji has previously been submitted. Emoji that are on a larger list or currently under consideration do not require additional proposals. Emoji declined within the last two years are not eligible for re-review.
  3. Please read this entire document, especially the Selection Factors, before proceeding any further.
  4. Read the Emoji Encoding Principles, including the section on Limitations on Emoji Encoding.
  5. Read the Emoji Submission FAQ for common questions and their answers.
  6. Here are some helpful Example Submissions.

Proposals will be rejected unless they are complete and adhere to these Guidelines. Other proposals may be returned to the Submitter for modification based on Emoji Subcommittee review.

To submit a proposal for a new emoji, please prepare a document according to the Format for Emoji Proposals section below. Your document must contain all of the sections shown in the form, and should address all of the items specified there as completely as possible.

Once you have exported your proposal as a PDF and prepared the image files, please complete the process by filling out the Unicode Emoji Submission Form with a link to your proposal as a PDF and your images in a ZIP file. Your complete “Submission” will be made up of the completed Unicode Emoji Submission Form, which includes the completed Emoji Proposal Agreement & License (referenced above), your proposal PDF, and your images.

Format for Emoji Proposals

Title: Proposal for Emoji <name>

The <name> must clearly identify the emoji being proposed, such as Proposal for Emoji: PRAM

Submitter: <name(s)>

The <name(s)> must clearly identify the Submitter(s). Use ; between multiple authors.

Date: <date>

When submitting revised proposals, the date must be updated.

  1. Identification. Suggested short name and keywords for the emoji, as in the Emoji List.
    1. CLDR short name
    2. Other keywords
    3. Proposed emoji names should be both general and generic. Adjectives or other narrowing terminology should be avoided except where necessary to distinguish from an existing character. For example, in the case of a proposal for an emoji for “swan,” the name should be swan instead of swan face. Some existing emoji names deviate from this practice for historical reasons.
  2. Images. One sample color image and one sample black&white image for the proposed emoji must be included in the proposal and in a zip file to illustrate how the emoji might be displayed. The format and license must be as specified in the Images section below.
    1. ZIP File. Please prepare images in a ZIP file.
    2. License. As discussed further in the Images section below, the Submitter must certify that they own all IP Rights in the images, or if not, must identify where the images were obtained and certify that the images are public domain and/or are subject to appropriate open source licenses, thereby making the images suitable for incorporation into the Unicode Standards. Failure to include this information will result in a rejection of the proposal.
    3. Document. The images must be included at the top of the document in two sizes: 18×18 and 72×72 pixels. The 18×18 image provides immediate feedback (to you and the Emoji Subcommittee) as to whether the image is distinctive enough at typical emoji sizes.
  3. Category. The proposed category and sort location for the emoji in Emoji Ordering
    1. Category (such as food-fruit)
    2. The emoji in that category that it should come after (such as after 🍓 strawberry).



    The above items must all be at the top of the first page.


  4. Selection factors — Inclusion. A section that addresses all Selection Factors for Inclusion, and provides evidence for each one as to what degree the proposed emoji would satisfy that factor. For more information, see Selection Factors for Inclusion below.
    1. Compatibility
    2. Expected usage level
      1. Frequency
      2. Multiple usages
      3. Use in sequences
      4. Breaking new ground
    3. Distinctiveness
    4. Completeness
  5. Selection factors — Exclusion. A section that addresses all Selection Factors for Exclusion, and provides evidence for each one as to what degree the proposed emoji would satisfy that factor. For more information, see Selection Factors for Exclusion below.
    1. Petitions or “frequent requests”
    2. Overly specific
    3. Open-ended
    4. Already representable
    5. Logos, brands, other third-party IP rights, UI icons, signage, specific people, specific buildings and landmarks, deities
    6. Transient
    7. Faulty comparison
    8. Exact images
    9. Region flags without code
    10. Lack of required rights or license for images
    11. Variations on direction
    12. Includes text
  6. Other information. Any other information that would be helpful, such as design considerations for images.
  • Please do not justify the addition of an emoji because it furthers a “cause,” no matter how worthwhile.
  • Please do not include a specific code point (U+XXXXX) for the proposed emoji.
  • Unlike submissions for other characters considered for the Unicode Standard, do not include a filled-out Proposal Summary Form.

A proposal may be advanced despite a “cause” argument — if other factors are compelling — but will not be advanced because of it.

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 below.

The names and images for approved characters may be changed — sometimes substantially — from what is suggested in the proposal. Quite often the name is generalized, for example. A proposal for a brick wall or an iceberg might end up being just for “brick” or “ice” (represented by an ice cube image, for example). The image that a vendor uses typically departs substantially from what is in the proposal, such as to better fit with the vendor’s “house style.”

Example Submissions

The Emoji Proposals table contains a set of all proposals that have been accepted up to the last release. Proposals that are under consideration can be found on the Beta Candidates page. Proposals that have moved forward (but are not yet Alpha candidates) can be found on the Beta Candidates page. As you read these, remember that new proposals must follow the current Format for Emoji Proposals. This format may have changed substantially since earlier proposals were submitted. The earliest proposals in the Emoji Proposals table date from before the Format for Emoji Proposals was in place.


New Emoji Sequences

Not all new emoji require the addition of a new character. The following can be proposed:

  • Making a valid sequence be RGI, such as a new ZWJ sequence for bandaged heart represented internally by heart + ZWJ + bandage. Accepting that proposal would result in changes to the emoji-sequences.txt or emoji-zwj-sequences.txt data files.
  • Making an invalid sequence be valid, such as allowing modifiers to apply to a character that it couldn’t before. For example, applying a skin-tone modifier to the bandage emoji. Accepting that proposal would result in a change to the Unicode Emoji Specification and/or to emoji property files.

When proposing a new emoji sequence, the proposal title should be changed to one of the following:

  • Proposal for New RGI Emoji Sequence: <emoji sequence name>
  • Proposal for New Valid Emoji Sequence: <emoji sequence name>

The code points of the proposed sequence must be explicitly listed in a new item 1.C Code Points.

Selection factors I, J, and L are not applicable, and should be marked with n/a.


Images

Images must be supplied in a flat ZIP file (without internal folders).

Images must be in PNG format with dimensions of 18×18 and 72×72 pixels. The image should extend to the sides of the cell (no extra padding). The background of the image should be transparent. Black&white images must be suitable for fonts. Grayscale is not acceptable. Examples:

✅  color ✅  black&white ❌  grayscale

The file names should reflect the name of the emoji or emoji sequence and the pixel size. For example, the file name “swan-18-bw.png” represents an 18×18 black&white image for a swan.

Image Licenses

The Submitter must warrant that they own all IP Rights (as defined in the Emoji Proposal Agreement & License) in the Proposed Emoji, as Submitter’s own original work and/or by assignment and/or as a work for hire. Or if not, the Submitter must identify where the images were obtained and warrant that the images are public domain and/or are subject to appropriate open source licenses, thereby making the images suitable for incorporation into the Unicode Standards. Specifically, if Submitter does not own all IP Rights in the images, then Submitter must provide a URL to the image on a website where the required license or public domain designation for the image is clearly stated.

Example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachshund#/media/File:Short-haired-Dachshund.jpg

When you visit the above URL, the declared license is clearly stated as CC BY 3.0.

Image Search (or equivalent) can be useful for finding suitable images for proposed characters:

On Bing, choose Type > Clipart & License > Public Domain, such as emu.

On Google, choose Search Tools > Type > Clipart & License > Labeled for noncommercial reuse, such as emu.

You can try filtering for usage rights or license. Sometimes that’s too narrow, and you can find more images with a general search, then clicking through to determine whether the license is suitable.

Failure to include this information will result in rejection of the proposal.


Selection Factors

There are two kinds of selection factors. Some weigh in favor of encoding the emoji, and some against. These are listed in the sections below.

Selection Factors for Inclusion

Unicode emoji characters were originally encoded on the basis of compatibility. Many emoji seem random or are overly specific to East Asia because the initial set originated from Japan (examples include 🆕 U+1F195 NEW button and 🈯 U+1F22F Japanese “Reserved” button).

Today, there are additional factors that the Emoji Subcommittee considers when assessing proposals. None of these factors alone determine eligibility or priority: all of the factors together are taken into consideration.

  1. Compatibility. Are these needed for compatibility with frequently-used emoji in popular existing systems, such as Snapchat, Twitter, or QQ?
    • For example, 🙄 FACE WITH ROLLING EYES.
    • For this to be a positive factor, the proposed emoji must also have evidence of high-frequency use in that existing system.
    • Mark this as n/a unless there are compelling examples.
  2. Usage level. (See questions below) Measures that can be presented as evidence include the following:
    1. Frequency. Is there a high frequency of use?
    2. Multiple usages. Does the emoji have notable metaphorical references or symbolism? This does not include puns.
      • For example, archetype, metaphorical use, and symbolism may be supplied. 🦈 shark is not necessarily only the animal, but also used for a huckster, in jumping the shark, loan shark, etc. 🐷 pig face may be used to evoke “hungry,” “zodiac sign,” “food,” “farming,” or “the police.” 💪 flexed biceps are used to denote strength or simply “elbow.”.
      • Mark this as n/a unless there are compelling examples.
    3. Use in sequences. Can the emoji be used in sequences?
      • For example, 💦🧼🤲 can convey handwashing, 😍😭 can indicate overwhelming cuteness, and 🗑🔥 for garbage fire.
      • Mark this as n/a unless there are compelling examples.
    4. Breaking new ground. Does the emoji represent something that is new and different?
      • More weight is given to emoji that convey concepts that are not simply variants of concepts conveyed by existing emoji or sequences of existing emoji.
      • Emoji are building blocks, consider how this character represents a collection/group/family instead of a very specific breed or species.
      • For example, because there is already an emoji for 🧹 broom, an emoji for vacuum cleaner would not break new ground.
      • Mark this as Yes or No. If yes, explain why.
  3. Distinctiveness. Explain how and why your emoji represents a distinct, visually iconic entity.
    • A visually iconic entity can be clearly represented by an emoji-style rendering that is sufficiently recognizable.
    • Emoji images are paradigms, semantically representing a class of entities much larger than a specific image. Thus a U+1F37A 🍺 beer mug represents not just a mug with exactly the shape you see on the screen, filled with beer of exactly that color, but rather beer in general.
    • The term recognizable means most people familar with that entity should be able to discern that the representation is intended to depict a paradigm of that particular entity, without foreknowledge.
      • The image you supply will not be used in products, but instead needs to demonstrate that the emoji is distinct enough to be recognizable at typical emoji sizes, such as 18×18 pixels on mobile phone screens.
    • The term entity includes not only concrete objects, but also actions or emotions.
      • Actions or activities may be represented by capturing a person or object in the midst of that action. Thus U+1F3C3 🏃 person running also represents the action of running, and U+1F622 😢 crying face also represents crying.
      • Emotions or mental states can be represented by a face or body exhibiting that emotion or state. Thus U+1F620 😠 angry face also represents being angry, or anger.
      • A representation may use commonly understood “comic-style” visual elements, such as U+1F4AD 💭 thought bubble, motion lines as in U+1F44B 👋 waving hand and U+1F5E3 🗣 speaking head, or other signifiers such as in U+1F634 😴 sleeping face.
  4. Completeness. Does the proposed emoji fill a gap in existing types of emoji?
    • In Unicode 8.0, for example, five emoji were added to complete the zodiac, including 🦂 scorpion.
    • This factor has a small weight, compared to other countervailing factors, especially low expected frequency.
    • 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 is an emoji for reminder ribbon, and there is no need for finer gradations of color, such as purple.
    • Mark this as n/a unless there are compelling examples.

Selection Factors for Exclusion

  1. Petitions or “frequent requests”.
    • Do not simply include listings of examples from social media of people calling for the emoji. That is not reliable enough data to be useful, and just detracts from the strength of your proposal.
    • Similarly, petitions are counterproductive, and play no role in selecting emoji. They are not considered as evidence, since they are too easily skewed:
      • Petitions may have duplicates or robovotes.
      • The results could be skewed by commercial or special-interest promotion of the petition.
      • For example, the commercial petitions for 🌮 taco played no part in its selection; the taco was approved based on evidence in its proposal, not the petitions.
  2. Overly 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 specific.
    • A limited number of emoji can be added each year. Thus emoji that “break new ground” are strongly favored over emoji that are variants of others. Thus a proposal for additional species of owl would be viewed negatively.
  3. Open-ended. Is it just one of many, with no special reason to favor it over others of that type?
    • If this emoji is added, will it result in the need to add other similar types? The addition of one emoji is the exclusion of another.
  4. Already representable. Can the concept be represented by another emoji or sequence, even if the image is not exactly the same?
    • For example, handwashing can already be represented by 💦🧼🤲 water droplets + soap + palms up together; a squirrel is already often represented by the chipmunk emoji.
    • 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 vendors.
  5. Logos, brands, other third-party IP rights, UI icons, signage, specific people, specific buildings and landmarks, 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.
    • Other images or designs in which third-parties may have rights, such as images from non–public domain artwork, movies, books, and so on.
    • 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 exit-sign. 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 fictional, historic, living, or dead.
    • Specific buildings, structures, landmarks, or other locations, whether fictional, historic, or modern.
    • Deities.
  6. Transient. 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 encoding.
  7. Faulty comparison. Are proposals being justified primarily by being similar to (or more important than) existing compatibility emoji?
    • Many emoji were added only for compatibility, and would not have been added otherwise. Their existence does not justify proposals for emoji like them. For example:
    • The emoji 🆕 does not justify adding an emoji for ‘OLD’, or an emoji for ‘NEU’ (German). The same is true of the ideographic emoji, such as 🈯.
    • The emoji {🐶 🐕} do not justify additional front versus full-body views of the same animal.
    • The emoji {🐕 🐩} or {🐪 🐫} do not justify adding different varieties of the same kind of animal.
    • Four different mailboxes {📫 📪 📬 📭} do not justify adding your favorite “more important than a mailbox” emoji.
    • The Tokyo Tower 🗼 (a specific building) does not justify adding the Eiffel Tower.
  8. Exact images. Does the proposal request an exact image?
    • Emoji are by their nature subject to variation in order to have consistent graphic designs for a full set. Precise images (such as from a specific visual meme) are not appropriate as emoji; images such as GIFs or PNGs should be used in such cases, instead of emoji characters.
    • Once an emoji is released, it is typically used for a wide variety of items that have similar visual appearance.
  9. Region flags without code. Flags intended to represent specific countries or regions of the world must have a valid Unicode region code (based on ISO/BCP47) or Unicode subdivision code (based on ISO 3166-2).
    • Flags are subject to special criteria which vary by flag type.
  10. Lack of required rights or license for images. Lack of required rights or license for images, or public domain status for the images, as discussed further in the Images section above.
  11. Variations on direction. Proposals to add directional variation (for example, a runner running the other direction) are not eligible for consideration at this time.
  12. Includes text. We no longer encode emoji that include text, because they pose localization challenges, and may not be internationally recognizable.

Before approving as candidates or adding to a release of Unicode, other considerations are taken into account.


Flags

Proposals for flags are subject to special criteria. There are four categories of flag emoji:

F1 Emoji country flags are only valid for countries with Unicode region codes (based on ISO/BCP47). These are added automatically as RGI, do not require proposals, and no explicit proposals will be considered.
F2 As described in UTS #51, emoji flags for country subdivisions  (states, provinces, cantons, etc.) and continental regions are valid already for all Unicode subdivision codes (which are based on ISO 3166-2) and 3 digit region codes (based on UN M19). Examples of subdivisions are: Texas [code=ustx], Catalonia [esct], and Brittany [frbre]; while examples of continental regions are Africa [002] and Australasia [053]. Only a handful out of the five thousand or so subdivisions have RGI emoji — and no continental regions do.

It would be infeasible to add all subdivision flags due to limitations of smartphone memory, usability issues in keyboard palettes, etc.
  • The frequency of usage for flags tends to be quite low for all but the most prominent, so the Emoji Subcommittee is not making recommendations until there are better means of assessing the likely frequency of usage.
  • Adding further subdivision flags as RGI can also appear to play favorites unless similar subdivisions also get flags, which could mean “all other flags of that country” or “all subdivisions of greater or equal population in other countries”
Conversely, while the number of continental regions is tractable, there are not normally flags for them.

Thus, proposals to add subdivision flags or continental regions as RGI will not be considered by the Emoji Subcommittee or the UTC.
F3 Other regional and geopolitical flags have no mechanism within the Unicode Standard. That is, no mechanism currently exists for regions of the world or geopolitical bodies that do not have a valid Unicode region code (based on ISO/BCP47) or Unicode subdivision code (based on ISO 3166-2).
  • This includes historical flags (for example: South Vietnam) as well as current flags which do not have a corresponding region code or subdivision code (for example: Assyrian, Australian Aboriginal, Kurdistan, Maori, Torres Strait Islander, NATO).
  • Until such time as a general mechanism is proposed and accepted, proposals for flags in this category will be declined.
F4 Other flags (not representing countries, regions, or geopolitical bodies) may be considered for representation as emoji. These are subject to regular Unicode emoji selection factors, such as expected usage, and so on.

Evidence of Frequency

The goal of this section of your proposal is to gather information that can be used to assess the expected usage level for the new emoji. There is no perfect way to do this, but you are expected to supply the following data to help the Emoji Subcommittee assess your proposal.

Please read this section and follow all the instructions; otherwise your proposal will likely be rejected.

  • All data needs to be publicly available and reproducible. Of course, search results may vary over time, so the data you provide will be a snapshot at a particular time. The reproducibility must be quick: it cannot require more than a few minutes to reproduce the data you supply.
  • You need to supply screenshots of each result for each of the methods listed below: Google Search, Bing Search, Google Video Search, Google Trends (Web Search), and Google Trends (Image Search). Trends screenshots must include “elephant” as a comparative search term.

You can additionally, supply data using another process that can be used to help establish expected usage levels. However, you must substantiate why your method is reproducible, and comparable in quality. For example, it is a waste of time to supply a list of 1,000 data points gathered on Twitter over a month containing “emu”. First, that is not reproducible without considerable effort, and second, it is useless without comparable data for an existing emoji like “elephant”. Please contact us if you have other suggestions for other ways to get pertinent frequency data about expected emoji usage, before you spend time collecting data.

Proposed smiley faces need to be assessed differently, since comparisons are quite difficult. Generally the best terms capture the particular gesture, expression, or emotion, but proposals must be careful to provide evidence that (a) such emotions or expressions cannot be conveyed by the existing smileys, and that (b) there is a very strong association between the suggested image and the search terms. A good example would be the drooling face emoji, and the search term “drooling.”

Disambiguating Search Results

Reasonable efforts need to be made to remove irrelevant results. In the following, a search phrase (what you would type in the search box) is presented in [square brackets].

  • Minimize search personalization. Do all of your searches in a “private” browser window where possible, to help remove the effects of search personalization. Private browser windows are opened with menus like the following, depending on the browser: New Private Window, New Incognito Window, InPrivate Window.
  • Supply a category term also. When you search for [mammoth] alone, for example, you may get many irrelevant results, such as “Mammoth Mountain” (a ski resort) or “Mammoth Motocross” (a sports event), etc.
    • In such cases, your searches need to be qualified by a category term, such as [mammoth animal]. A term like “fly” can be even worse, because of the use as a verb (see below): [fly insect] can pick up items that are not about “flies” but rather other insects that fly. The category terms for each item don’t have to be identical, as long as they provide the appropriate filtering. For an example with “bird” and “animal,” see below. For Google Trends, you would use a qualifying category.
  • Group multiword terms. Searches with spaces are a problem, since [fish eye] would match pages with the word “fish” in the last paragraph and “eye” in the first. To help account for this, use hyphens instead of spaces within a Google search. This does not apply to a Bing search. For example, when searching for black swan, use [black-swan]. Otherwise the search data you supply will likely be rejected (without the hyphen there could be a hit on a page with “black” in the first paragraph and “swan” in the last). For example, use:
  • Complex cases. If a term has multiple meanings that are not excluded by a category term, list those meanings in your proposal (ideally include a snapshot like https://www.dictionary.com/browse/seal or https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/seal. Then use additional techniques to address that, using OR for alternate terms, and/or - (hyphen) to exclude terms. For example, [knockbox OR bash-bin] or [notebook -computer]. See Refine web searches for more details.
  • Choose your language. If your proposed emoji has high usage in a broad region of the world but relatively low usage in English, please also supply the equivalent searches in the appropriate language(s) of that region. Use languages that have the largest literate populations in that region to allow comparison; and please supply the translations from English.
    • That can also be helpful in avoiding irrelevant results in English (such as for “fly”).

Required Information

The following information is required. For comparison, the median values for median-use emoji are currently:

B.1.a Google Search750M
B.1.b Bing Search25M
B.1.c Google Video Search 75M
B.1.d Google Trends: Web Searchcomparable to elephant
B.1.e Google Trends: Image Searchcomparable to elephant

However, the values are factors that are taken into consideration, not hard limits.

B.1.a Google Search

https://www.google.com/search?q=swan

B.1.b Bing Search

https://www.bing.com/search?q=swan

B.1.c Google Video Search

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=vid&q=swan

B.1.d Google Trends: Web Search

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=elephant,swan

For this tool, you must also include a search for your proposed emoji and the term “elephant.”

For this and other tools that let you set start/end dates and locations, use the widest possible range.

B.1.e Google Trends: Image Search

Do the same as for Google Trends: Web Search, but pick Image Search.

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all_2008&gprop=images&q=elephant,swan