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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fun Unicode Characters for Facebook (and Generally Anywhere).

 Here is just a sample of fun unicode characters for Facebook. You can use these pretty much anywhere (including Google+), but I’ve specifically selected a few that don’t have emoticon equivalents supported by Facebook (at least that I’m aware of), don’t get converted to graphic emoticon representations by Facebook, and do display properly on most systems.

There are several different ways you can type the characters, depending on your system. You can use the hex codes on Windows and Linux (at least GTK apps). Using hexadecimal input for unicode characters on Windows can be a little tricky, though. Older alt codes can be used for some, but not all of the characters. Although the characters you can type with alt codes is limited, they have two advantages: they don’t require any special configuration and since they are decimal numbers they don’t contain any letters that are likely to cause conflicts with program shortcuts, so I’ve included them in the chart where applicable. To use the alt codes, you simply hold the Alt key while typing the number (you don’t use the + key like you do for the hex codes). Please note the leading 0 is important, alt code 145 produces a different character (æ) from 0145.

The easiest and most convenient input method is the compose key on Linux. It doesn’t cover all unicode characters, but it covers more useful characters than alt codes and they tend to be much easier to type and remember because they tend to be mnemonic (while not on the list because Facebook provides emoticon equivalents, the compose sequence for a smiley is :), a frowney is :(, and a heart is <3). There is a caveat, however, for the compose key on GTK apps. GTK overrides the configurable behavior of the compose key, unless you specifically configure to it use the underlying configuration from X. In order to do this, you will want to add a line to your ~/.Xsession like this:

export GTK_IM_MODULE="xim"

Then log out and back in. You can also type the above line directly into a terminal and then launch the GTK app from that terminal if you want to just quickly try it. The highlighted compose key sequences below may not work in GTK apps—including Firefox and OpenOffice—without this extra configuration, however.

Of course, if you have trouble typing any of the characters, you can also copy and paste them from here. That isn’t exactly the point here, but it will work.

left single quote<'01452018
right single quote
left double quote<"0147201C
right double quote>"0148201D
en dash--.01502013
em dash---01512014
side-ways hedera2767
degree symboloo24800B0°
copyright symboloc016900A9©
registered trademark symbolor017400AE®
trademark symboltm01532122
bullet point.=72022
outlined cross271E
check mark2714
x mark2718
infinity symbol88236221E
radiation symbol2622
skull and crossbones2620
eighth note#e13266A
beamed sixteenth notes#S266C
musical sharp symbol##266F
musical flat symbol#b266D

Bonus: Tux

It is often asked if there is a unicode character for Tux, the penguin who serves as the Linux mascot. There is no character for Tux in the unicode standard, however there is a private area for fonts to include non-standard characters. Linux Libertine, an excellent free font, includes Tux at code point e000. You can use this character if you can specify the font, such as on a web page (better use @font-face or the browser will fallback to something else if it isn’t installed) or in a document where you select the font. If you use this on Facebook, it will only display properly for those who have the font installed and have a browser that automatically falls back to a font that has the character available if it isn't in the currently selected font.

Here is what it looks like, if you have the font installed:

And here is what it looks like a bit larger:

Note: I changed the font color for Tux to black and the background to white, because it does look rather odd in reverse. I also made sure to remove the text-shadow effect.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, I just tried Tux on Facebook and found out that Facebook is now stripping that character from statuses. ☹