A smiley is often used in text communications to convey an emotion with a message. Smilies are used in text messages in the same way voice changes and facial expressions are used in face-to-face or telephone conversation. For example, if you were joking with someone and send a text message of "Idiot!" the person receiving your message may think you are making a rude comment to them. If you send the same message with a "happy smiley" : ) following, the person would then understand you were "smiling" - or joking when you said that, and not misinterpret your intent. To create a smiley you use your standard keyboard characters and punctuation marks. When viewing text smilies they are all sideways. Smilies are often used in online chat rooms, game rooms, instant messaging, and in e-mail.
A smiley can also be called an emoticon.