I use Gmail for my email, and noticed that many of the emails that I receive from the young people I interact with include odd “J” characters in places that don’t make any sense. Are they all just terrible typists? And if so, why just a “J” character out of place?
This is a common problem, and it’s not just your young friends that are typing incorrectly. The real problem stems from the fact that they’re using Outlook to craft their emails (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Some engineer/designer at Microsoft thought it might be helpful if the email editor in Outlook (and all of Microsoft Office, actually) would change the combination of characters that people often use as a common emoticon (that is, a character or group of characters that represent an emotion or intent, graphically, in text communications), the “:)” symbols with an actual smiley-face character (funny, Microsoft Word from Office 2016 just made the same correction as Ken typed this text). The smiley-face character might represent what the author of your email intended to insert into the text, but its appearance in your email relies on the installation of a particular font (WingDings) that may or may not be installed on your computer. If it’s not installed, instead of the cute smiley face, you’ll see a “J” character. Even if the font is installed, the transition from the Microsoft source to your email can often change the character so that it appears as a “J”.
What can you do? The simplest solution is to make a mental replacement, understanding that the intent of the “J” was to add a pleasant emoticon to the message. If it really bothers you, however, you can suggest that the author make the change suggested in this article: http://chris.pirillo.com/j-smiley-outlook-email-problem-and-fix/. The suggested fix is to remove the auto-correct replacements that Microsoft installs by default, so that typing “:)” doesn’t insert a smiley-face character. This isn’t a huge problem, especially once you know what’s going on!