Find a list of standard text message symbols at About.com under their "Emoticons and Smilies 101" article; meanwhile, Emojipedia site includes a list of the more complex emoji-style symbols. Both are commonly used in text messaging, as well as in messages online.
Text message symbols, commonly referred to as emoticons, are combinations of existing symbols that are used to send messages to others. The most common of emoticons is the smiley, which is created through the combination of a colon and a parenthesis. Emoticons gained popularity in large part because they helped users convey tone or mood, making up for the lack of facial expressions or vocal inflections in text messaging.
Emojis are a more advanced type of text message symbol that gained popularity with the advent of smartphones. Rather than actual text symbols, emojis are small graphics, and there are a wide number of them available from basic smiley faces and hearts to animal faces, weather icons, flags and much more.
Using emoji on a device such as a smartphone is a simple process. Users need only access the emoji keyboard on their smartphone, which is available for free, and choose the emoji symbol or symbols that they wish to send.