Discord Emotes: How to Use Them, Make Your Own, & Build an Epic Server

Discord is a fantastic, highly customizable messaging service. A favorite feature among users is Discord emotes, personalizable and useful emojis that help server owners stand out, build their brands, and add a splash of fun to their Discord servers

Although similar to the emoticons you can find in text messages and social media, Discord emotes have a more comprehensive range of use and customization. 

Here is everything you need to know about Discord emotes, including what they are and how to use them to create an epic Discord server.  

What Are Discord Emotes?

Discord emotes are fun extras you get to add to your server for more personalization and customization. The standard emojis within Discord are similar to those you find elsewhere on the web. Discord offers an array of smileys, figures, symbols, and other graphics helping users express emotions and ideas. 

As with other messenger apps, they can be added to a line of text or used on their own as a complete message. 

However, Discord makes your use of emojis epic!

Discord provides far more options and uses for their emotes. For example, users can create custom emojis or use emotes as enhancements with different bot integrations. Discord also features the more prominent and engaging Wumboji, enhancing user experience. 

How Do Discord Emotes Work?

There are a variety of ways to use Discord emotes. Server owners can upload custom emotes for users to enjoy, but the platform automatically includes a wide range of standard global emojis for everyone. 

Discord emojis can convey emotion in a post, react to someone else’s message, or assign roles with bot integration. 

How Do You Get Discord Emotes?

There are multiple ways to get and use Discord emotes. 

Server members can access the available server emotes via the emote menu or with the unique text identifier, while nitro members can unlock emotes for use across the platform.

Server owners will want to get new, customizable emotes by making them or purchasing them from around the web and may also want to unlock extra slots. 

Using the Emotes Available 

There are two ways to use the available emotes as part of a message, the emote menu and the unique text identifier. 

If you want to use an emote to react to a message, you are limited to the emote menu. 

The Discord Emote Menu

To access the menu, click on the emoji icon at the far right of the chatbox. The icon gains color and changes facial expressions whenever you hover over it, so sometimes it’s a smiley, but it can also be frowning, smirking, or even crying.

When you click on the icon, you’ll see a pop-up with a massive list of all the emojis available for your use.

There are multiple sections of the emote menu. At the top, you will see your most frequently used emoji and the emotes available on the server you are currently in.

As you scroll down, you will scroll through all the emojis available on every Discord server you belong to. You may notice that many of the emotes are greyed out – this means you can’t use that particular emote in your current server. Colorful emotes are available for use. 

To use the greyed-out emotes, you must become a Discord Nitro member. Membership is $9.99 per month and comes with many perks, but it isn’t required for Discord’s key functionality

The final portion of the menu includes the global emotes. These are the standard emojis available for everyone on every server. 

If you place your cursor on the left side of the menu, you can quickly scroll through your servers and onto the global emotes rather than scrolling through each emote in every server. 

Once you’ve found the emote you want, clicking it will place it in your message. 

Selecting Discord Emoji with the Unique Text Identifier 

Each emote has a unique text identifier. The traditional smileys are easy to make using a variation of colons, semi-colons, and parenthesis. Simply typing 🙂 creates a smiley emoji, for example. 

While custom emotes will vary based on what the owner named them, global emotes often include a colon and description. For example, the woman shrugging emote (🤷‍♀️) can be accessed by typing:


Once you start typing, a list of emotes beginning with the same letters will pop up, making it easier for users to find the emoji they want without typing the entire text identifier. 

screenshot showing how to get the woman shrugging discord emote by typing it with a colon

How Do I Use Custom Emotes?

Discord’s most remarkable feature is the ability to use custom emotes on your server. Every server automatically has 50 custom emote slots, allowing server owners to upload emojis representing their brand in fun and creative ways. 

How Do You Add Discord Emojis?

To upload custom emotes into your server, go to your server settings and scroll down to emotes. Under the server emoji heading, you will see a brief description of how to upload emotes.

It reads:

“Add up to 50 custom emojis that anyone can use in this server. Animated gif emoji may be used by members with Discord nitro. Emoji names must be at least two characters long and can only contain alphanumeric characters and underscores. Emoji must be under 256kb in size.”

Click the “upload” button and select the emoji you want from your computer files. It will appear under the “upload” button if it meets the standards. You will see a small row with the emoji, the name, and the person who uploaded it. Discord automatically names it with the file name, but you may edit the title on this screen. You can click the red “x” at the right of the screen to delete the emote. 

How to Get More Custom Emotes on Discord

You can unlock more custom emotes as your server grows.

Server boosts, small monthly payments members make to Discord, unlock more emote slots. If two members boost your server, you achieve level one and get 50 additional emoji slots. 

It takes 15 server boosts to unlock level 2 and 30 boosts to unlock the final level. Each boost unlocks an additional 50 -100 custom emote slots for that specific server.

Discord Nitro users can use custom emotes everywhere on Discord, but if you don’t have it, you can only use the emojis in the server that owns them. 

How Do I Make My Own Emotes for Discord?

A cool thing about Discord is that you can make custom emotes. You can craft perfect emotes with Adobe or a free program like Gimp if you have exceptional graphic design skills. 

When making your own emotes, ensure that they are 128×128 pixels in resolution and that the file size is less than 256kb.

However, there are lots of options for those of us who aren’t graphic designers. There are thousands of graphic designers all over the web offering emote-making services. Fivver and Etsy are the top places to look for artists to design emotes for you, but remember to pay your artists.

You can also look to both of these websites for premade emoji packages. These are generally cheaper, and you don’t have to wait for them. Once you find a package you like, you can download them with a click of a button, then upload them to your server.

A final way to make your own custom emotes is to use an emote maker. These websites allow you to design custom emotes utilizing pre-made components. They aren’t the best emotes, but if you are building your server just for fun, it’s a free way to get a few silly custom emotes. 

Here’s one that I made in a few seconds:

custom discord emote

Many websites allow you to turn images into emotes, create your own random emotes, or download emote templates. It’s up to you to decide which types of emotes you want. 

Types of Discord Emojis

Discord offers numerous types of emojis. In addition to the custom emotes discussed above, Discord offers global emotes, Wumboji, and animoji. 

What Are Global Discord Emotes?

Global emotes are the emojis available for use everywhere in Discord. Nitro users may consider all of the emotes global, but typically it only refers to the ones everyone can use everywhere. 

There was a lot of drama and controversy surrounding global emotes. Users found a workaround to get global discord emotes without paying for Discord Nitro by integrating their servers with BTTV (BetterTTV)

Discord suspended BTTV’s emote integration ability, which caused a massive uproar within the community. Users were upset that they could no longer have free global emotes. Many saw it as a giant cash grab.

However, Discord never intended for users to get free global emotes. Discord offers a ton of services and functionality for free and only charges for a few perks.

The ability to use emoticons globally is one of those perks. Discord has to make money somehow – hosting all the data stored on the millions of servers within Discord must cost a fortune. I completely understand their decision to shut down the ability to get one of the few paid services for free.

What is Wumboji?

Wumboji are emotes used by themselves on a chat line. If you use a singular emoji on Discord, it will be larger than a normal one. You can use up to 27 emojis on one line and have them appear larger than typical emotes!

Here’s an example of Wumboji versus regular Discord Emojis, using smileys. As you can see, when you use just one smiley face, or a group of smileys, the emote is much bigger than if you combine the smiley with words!

screenshot showing what wumboji look like compared to normal discord emotes 

What is Animoji?

If all that wasn’t fun enough, Discord also offers animated emojis called animoji. Animoji adds excitement and flair to your messages with dancing dogs, glittering party hats, or slithering snakes and can be used just like regular emotes. 

Animoji have limitations. There are no global animated emotes, meaning only Discord Nitro users can use them. In addition, they are only available if a server has uploaded them. You won’t find any animoji in Discord’s standard emote package. The animated emotes you see around Discord are custom emotes created and uploaded by users.

Using Emojis for Reaction Roles

Something unique to Discord is that you can also use emotes to react to messages. The concept is similar to the iPhone IMessage app’s ability to react to messages with several symbols, but Discord offers far more options. You can respond to any message with any Discord emote available to you.  

The ability to use emotes as reaction tools comes in handy when you want to integrate reaction roles into your server.  One of Discord’s top features is the ability to create unique roles for users. Many servers even give their users the ability to choose their own roles by integrating  Discord bots

The simplest way to allow users to choose their own role is with a role-reaction bot. Once configured, the bot sends a message asking users to select their role by reacting to the message with a specific emoji. Upon reacting, the bot automatically grants the user the role. 

The below photo is an example that illustrates using a bot for reaction roles. In this instance, users can choose their pronouns by reacting to the message with different colored hearts. When they click on the heart matching their pronouns, they are automatically assigned a role that tells everyone else in the server which pronouns they prefer. 

Example of how to use Discord emojis for reaction roles using carl-bot

Users can click on someone’s name on the right-hand side of Discord if they want to see which roles the person has.  Information including their name, short description, and the roles they have on the server will appear. 

As you can see, in this case, I reacted to the message with the yellow heart and was automatically assigned the “she/her” role.

image showing the roles someone has in Discord after they used discord emojis to react and receive a certain role

Users can change their assigned role at any time by unclicking the first emote, which removes the role, then clicking the emote matching the new role. 

Which Discord Bots Offer Reaction Roles?

Many Discord bots offer reaction role functionality. MEE6 is the most popular, but users need to purchase the premium version for full functionality. Many basic moderation bots will allow users to set up at least one reaction role message. 

Carlbot is the best bot for roles. Although technically a moderation bot, the moderation function isn’t as versatile as some other bots with the same function. However, Carlbot excels in role management. The free version offers far more options for role messages, role setting, and reactions than any other bot. 

Emotes and Branding

Many Twitch streamers and gamers will upload their Twitch emotes for use on their Discord server. Having the same emotes across platforms keeps brand logos consistent and allows fans to promote them in more places. 

If you are building a server based on your brand, ensure that some of the emotes you create and upload fit your brand’s profile. If your server is just for fun, this isn’t as important.

FAQs about Discord Emojis

discord emotes FAQ infographic
Save & Share for a quick reference guide on Discord Emotes!


What is the Right Size for Discord Emotes?

Under 256kb

What’s the Optimal Resolution for Discord Emotes?

The optimal resolution for uploading emotes is 128×128 pixels. Discord will resize your image to 32×32 pixels.

How Many Custom Emotes Can my Server Have?

No Level – 50

Level 1 – 100

Level 2 – 150

Level 3 – 250

How Do I Unlock Levels to Get More Custom Emotes?

Server boosts. Level 1 unlocks after two boosts, level 2 unlocks after 7, and level 3 unlocks with 14 boosts.

How Can I Use My Emotes in Every Server?

You need a Discord Nitro subscription to use your custom emotes globally.

Discord Emotes are Fun, Versatile, and Useful

Emotes add flair and fun to your Discord server, but their versatility can’t be understated. Very few platforms put as much effort into customizable, branded, and valuable emotes as Discord has. 

Explore all the different uses for Discord emotes to get the most out of the platform and keep your server members coming back for more!