You've seen it before: That strange, cutesy "J" that occasionally appears in email and seems contextually like it's meant to be a smiling emoticon. You may even be sending these little "J"s without even knowing it. Tech blogger Chris Pirillo explains:
[F] or some inexplicable reason [In Microsoft Office applications] , some brilliant engineer thought it wise to correct ":)" as a smiley rendered in a specific font face when composing rich text documents (and/or HTML email). This is why people think you're crazy for inserting random "J" characters in your emails — they don't have the same fonts installed on their machine!
Actually, the missing font is Wingdings, the wacky images font that offered a bit of novelty for early Word users but is functionally kind of useless. Pirillo solves the problem on his system by simply telling his Office applications to automatically replace ":)" with a unicode smiley face character. The process in Outlook, for example, goes like this:
Open Outlook, go to Options -> Mail -> Spelling and AutoCorrect, then click AutoCorrect Options and set the AutoCorrect to replace :) with the smiley face.
It's a pretty minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but Pirillo's not the only one annoyed with this problem. If you've been sending out or receiving smiley Js and had always wondered what was going on there, Pirillo's got the answers - and the workaround, if you want it.
J Smiley Outlook Email: Problem and Fix! [Chris Pirillo]