Unicode Variation Selectors 15 and 16

I use a lot of non-ASCII characters, for example emoji,[1] in my writing and in the process of trying to control their appearance in web browsers, I’ve learned about Unicode Variation Selectors 15 and 16, which are also known as VS15 and VS16.

The following table describes these selectors and gives some examples. Note that whether a character is emojified[2] depends on…

Name

VARIATION SELECTOR-15
(VS15)

VARIATION SELECTOR-16
(VS16)

no variation selector

HTML entity (hex)

︎

️

HTML entity (decimal)

︎

️

Meaning

if available, use
black & white style

if available, use
emoji style[2]

browser chooses

Example 1
:symbols:[3]
unrendered
rendered

🔣︎
🔣︎

🔣️
🔣️

🔣
🔣

Example 2
:heavy check mark:
unrendered
rendered

✔︎
✔︎

✔️
✔️

✔

Example 3
:new:
unrendered
rendered

🆕︎
🆕︎

🆕️
🆕️

🆕
🆕

Example 4
:interrobang:
unrendered
rendered

⁉︎
⁉︎

⁉️
⁉️

⁉

Example 5
no shortcode
unrendered
rendered

‽︎
‽︎

‽️
‽️

‽

Example 6
:heart:
unrendered
rendered

❤︎
❤︎

❤️
❤️

❤

Example 7
:hearts:
unrendered
rendered

♥︎
♥︎

♥️
♥️

♥

Example 8
:leftwards arrow with hook:
unrendered
rendered

↩︎
↩︎

↩️
↩️

↩

Example 9
:mask:
unrendered
rendered

😷︎
😷︎

😷️
😷️

😷
😷

Example 10
:bulb:
unrendered
rendered

💡︎
💡︎

💡️
💡️

💡
💡

 

Hexadecimal HTML entities are case insensitive so you can use any of the following for VS15 and VS16.

In my web writing, I prefer the last option (lower case x and all upper case hexadecimal number).

💡︎
A mnemonic that I use to remember these variation selectors is this: The one that ends in F is for Fun and the one that ends in E is for Everyday.✔️✔︎

 

To learn more about variation selectors, see:

 

Endnotes


1. The plural of “emoji” can be spelled “emoji” or “emojis.” To learn about pluralizing the word “emoji,” see merriam-webster.com’s definition of emoji and the second Q in emojipedia.org’s FAQ.
2. In this article “emojify” is a synonym for “use emoji style.”
3. :symbols: is the emoji shortcode for 🔣.

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