Effective communication in an always on, always connected, always mobile world often requires the use of a form of shorthand language known as emoji. Particularly useful for smartphone communication where a full QWERTY keyboard is not available, emoji can quickly and efficiently convey the emotion or subtext behind the words contained in a text message. For individuals skilled in the text messaging arts, emoji are just how mobile communication gets done.

Not too long ago, using emoji in Microsoft Office 365 documents required the downloading and installation of special add-in apps. Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all include special characters and insertable art but no built-in emoji tool. However, as of the 2017 Fall Creators Update, users of Windows 10 can access a special overlay tool that will insert standardized emoji into any communication.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to access the Microsoft Windows 10 emoji panel and how to use it to find and insert Unicode-approved emoji into any Office 365 document.

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Emoji panel

The Windows 10 emoji panel works as an operating system overlay to whatever application you work in currently. You access it using one of two keyboard shortcuts:

  • Windows Key + . (Windows key plus period, or)
  • Windows Key + ; (Windows key plus semi-colon)

Using either keyboard shortcut will reveal the emoji panel, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

To select an emoji to insert into your document at the current cursor position, just click or tap it. You can insert as many as you want, and the emoji panel will stay active until you click Close or press the ESC key.

As you can see in Figure A, there are several themed tabs of emoji to choose from, including smiley faces, people, celebrations, food, transportation, and various symbols. Figure B shows you some of the tabs and their available emoji.

Figure B

You can also search for an emoji by using keywords. Place the cursor where you want the emoji to be in your document, call up the emoji panel, and then start typing. The panel will narrow the list of emoji displayed based on what you are typing (Figure C). As of the April 2018 Update, you can even type words in languages other than English to find just the emoji you are looking for.

Figure C


Like many other features in Windows 10, Microsoft plans to continuously update and upgrade the emoji panel as new images are vetted and approved by the Unicode organization. The Windows 10 October 2018 Update, which is having some serious rollout issues as of this writing, will add support for Unicode 11, which comes with 157 new emoji.

If you would like to use emoji as a regular part of your communication toolset, the built-in Windows 10 emoji panel is just the feature you are looking for and could be all you need to spice up your next Office 365 document.

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