W3C Proposed Icons for Internet before Unicode

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

W3C back in 1996 proposed HTML entities for many icons for the internet, such as video file, sound file, trash icon, play icon. This is before unicode became popular or had pictographs/emoji for these.

[W3C HTML predefined icon-like symbols By W3C. At http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-wwwicn.html , accessed on 2011-11-18 ]

Many of the proposed symbols are obsolete today, but still, many others are useful. These proposed HTML entities are not implemented. However, most of these are in Unicode now.

W3C Icons

Following are the proposed icons, grouped by category

Video, Audio, Image, Icons

film movie audio sound1 sound2 image1 image2 image3

file Icons

generic document notebook a text text document compressed compressed document binary binary document binhex binhex document unknown unknown document uuencoded uuencoded document

Tech Device Icons

comp.blue comp.gray clock trash filing cabinet display printer keyboard mouse cd i cd rom fixed disk disk drive diskette calculator camera telephone fax network

Software Icons

folder.open folder folder2 mail mail in mail out

HTML Icons

HTML, table of content, home page, index, glossary, summary.

html form home toc index index2 glossary summary

Navigation Icons

parent previous next back forward

Multimedia Control Buttons

play-stop play-start play-pause play-fast-reverse play-fast-forward

Map, Archive, New

map archive new burst

Alerts and Warnings

caution alert.black alert.red stop work work2


sadsmiley smiley telnet tn3270 transfer ftp gopher www

Full List and Symbol Meaning

Following is what these icons supposed to mean. (slightly edited from their original doc.)

&archive;archive server. A collection of (related) documents, that can be manipulated as a single unit. When it is used in a link, it retrieves either the whole archive or its table of contents. For example, Tar files, Zip files, database files.
&audio;audio sequence. A sound fragment, such as a piece of music or speech. When used in a link, it will play the sound. For example, links to audio files in Gopher menus; the current time in a synthesized voice.
&binary.document;binary data. A document that contains data that is unreadable by humans, and of which the precise type is not known or not important. When used in a link, the data is downloaded, but not displayed. For example, binary files in Gopher menus.
&uuencoded.document;uuencoded document.
&binhex.document;binhex format. A document that is encoded in Macintosh hexadecimal coding. Hopefully this symbol can be phased out in the future, as servers and client become smarter, since this is not information that normal users are interested in. For example, Binhex files in Gopher menus.
&compressed.document;compressed document. A file that is compressed with “compress”, “gzip”, or equivalent utilities. Normally part of a link to such a file. For example, a compressed file in an FTP directory.
&text.document;text/plain, html, etc.. A document containing primarily text. This includes text with markup instructions, if the browser is (expected to be) able to interpret them. A part of a link, it will retrieve and display the document. For example, a plain text file, an HTML document, a TeX DVI file.
&document;unspecified document type. Some document, the exact type of which is unimportant (contrast this with &unknown.document; below). For example, a directory listing showing files and subdirectories (folders); a list of titles of articles, with document symbols replacing bullet marks.
&unknown.document;unrecognized document type
&calculator;calculator. This symbol should give access to some sort of interactive calculator. For example, a calculator could be included in a form to allow people to do some computations before they fill in the requested numbers.
&caution;warning sign. Draws attention to an important piece of information. It is normally not used in a link. For example, “Warning: the next video fragment contains scenes of extreme cruelty.”
&clock;clock or time. A clock should give access to the current time or to the elapsed time since some event. For example, selecting the clock returns the simulated time in a multi-user strategy game.
&disk.drive;removable media type. Gives access to whatever disk is in the indicated drive. The fact that it is removable means that the contents can change or may be absent altogether. For example, a link to the disk on the machine of a colleague.
&diskette;floppy disk. Represents a collection of files stored on a floppy disk. In contrast to the &disk.drive; above, this is a specific disk. Usually, access is slow. For example, a disk in a jukebox, a disk in a mail-order catalogue.
&display;computer screen. The computer's display as an output device. Could be used together with the fax and the printer to let the user select where he want something to be printed. For example, when a document is available in different resolutions, the display symbol indicates that one of them version is suitable for computer screens.
&fax;facsimile machine. A fax machine as an output device. Like the display and printer symbols, this can be used to indicate the destination of some output. For example, forwarding a message to somebody without an e-mail address can be done by selecting the fax symbol and entering a phone number.
&filing.cabinet;filing cabinet. A container for documents and folders. It is usually larger than a folder, and the contents are more divers. For example, a link to an FTP server.
&film;film or animation, such as MPEG movie. A timed sequence of images, optionally with a sound track, such as a video sequence, a computer animation, a slide show, or a live video link. For example, a video clip on a CD-I.
&fixed.disk;fixed media drive. Either a container for folders and documents, or the destination of some data. In the first case, there must be a reason why the device is important (and therefore why the symbols for folder or filing cabinet are not applicable). For example, a link to the local files on the user's own machine.
&folder;folder or directory. A container for documents and maybe other folders. As part of a link, it should retrieve a listing of the folder's contents. For example, a gopher menu, a directory.
&form;fill-out form. Gives access to a fill-out form, normally coded as an HTML document. For example, links to different types of tax forms.
&ftp;ftp server. Represents a connection using the FTP protocol, when for some reason it is important that the user is aware of the server's type. For example, information that is available over a number of channels, one of which is an FTP connection.
&glossary;glossary of terms, etc. Gives access to a glossary of terms. For example, a link to a technical dictionary.
&gopher;gopher server. A connection using the Gopher protocol. For example, an information provider might list alternative addresses, indicating with the gopher symbol that some of them are Gopher connections.
&home;home document. Represents the “home page” of a collection of related nodes (not necessarily the user's own home page). Normally part of a hyperlink. For example, each node in somebody's personal collection could contain a link to his “Welcome” page.
ℑphotograph, drawing or graphic of any kind. Represents a photograph, drawing, etc. When used in a link, it retrieves the image and displays it. For example, a link of type I in a Gopher menu; a “submit” button in a form that sets image parameters.
&index;searchable index. Represents an interactive index. When used in a link, it gives access to a searchable document, which allows at least keywords to be entered. For example, a link to a WAIS index over some collection of documents; a link of type 7 in a Gopher menu.
&mail;e-mail messages . Represents either a single mail message or the mail sub-system. If the context is clear, it can also be used as a label in front of someone's address (cf. the telephone symbol). As part of a hyperlink, it respectively retrieves that message or starts a (possibly integrated) mail agent. For example, in a view of a mailbox, each message can be prefixed with a mail icon.
&mail.in;mail-in tray. A special mail folder (viz. the one in which the mail system deposits new messages). As a hyperlink, it displays the contents of the folder, in the form of an index.
&mail.out;mail-out tray. A special mail folder (viz. the one in which the user stores messages that are to be sent out). Note that this is not the folder that keeps copies of messages that have been sent. For example, a link to a special directory in which the user's composed messages are collected, until he exits the mail system (at which point the messages are sent and the directory is emptied.)
↦geographical or schematic map. A document that consists of a map of some kind. In a link, it retrieves the map and displays it. For example, a road map with instructions how to reach some building; a schematic representation of some production process.
&mouse;mouse/pointing device. The mouse as an input device. For example, label in front of instructions that are only applicable if you have a mouse.
&notebook;notes or annotations. Indicates the presence of notes or annotations, presumably related to the context of the icon. When part of a link, it displays the notes. For example, an annotated classical text linking the commentary by means of symbols in the margin.
&parent;parent of current document. In a more or less hierarchical collection of nodes, this represents the parent of the current node. Should be used as a link to that node. For example, a link to the parent directory of an FTP directory.
&next;next document in current sequence. The next document of a collection that is meant to be read in order. For example, each chapter of a book could end with a link to the next chapter.
&previous;previous document in current sequence. The previous document of a collection that is meant to be read in order. For example, each chapter of a book could start with a link to the previous chapter.
&printer;hardcopy device. A printer as an output device. (Compare with the display and fax symbols.), for example: ???
&summary;summary. A summary of a document or of a collection of documents. In a link, it retrieves the text of the summary. For example, the table of contents of a book could include a link to a summary.
&telnet;telnet connection. A terminal-based connection to some service, using the Telnet protocol. When part of a link, it should start a terminal-emulator and a telnet connection to the indicated service. For example, a link to a library's on-line catalogue that still uses its own user-interface.
&tn3270;tn3270 terminal session. A terminal-based connection to some service, that requires a TN3270 terminal (-emulator) to work (cf. the telnet symbol). When part of a link, it should start a terminal-emulator and a telnet connection to the indicated service. For example, a link to a database manager running on an IBM mainframe.
&toc;table of contents. A table of contents over one or more documents. As a link, it should display the table of contents associated with the current document. For example, each chapter of a hyper-book could start with a link to the book's table of contents.
&trash;waste paper basket
&telephone;telephone number. Next to a number, it indicates that the number represents a telephone number (cf. the third meaning of the mail symbol).
&cd.rom;CD ROM. A collection of documents contained on a read-only CD, including music CDs. (cf. the fixed disk, disk drive, and diskette symbols).
&cd.i;CD-I. An interactive session with a CD-I.
&keyboard;keyboard device. The keyboard as an input device (cf. mouse).
&stop;error sign. A more severe warning then the &caution; symbol.
&network;computer network
&smiley;happy face. Used as postfix adjective/adverb, meaning “for fun”, “ironic”, “half-serious”, etc.
&sadsmiley;sad face. Used as postfix adverb, meaning “unfortunately”
&new; new! Draws attention to something in the document that has recently been changed and that the reader has probably not seen before.
&play.start;play. Play button for starting a movie or sound, as on cassette or CD player (cf. play.stop, play.pause, play.fast.forward, play.fast.reverse).
&play.stop;stop play. Stop button for stopping a movie or sound, as on cassette or CD player (cf. play.start, play.pause, play.fast.forward, play.fast.reverse).
&play.pause;pause. Pause button for pausing a movie or sound, as on cassette or CD player (cf. play.start, play.stop, play.fast.forward, play.fast.reverse).
&play.fast.forward;fast forward. fast-forward button for skipping along a movie or sound, as on cassette or CD player (cf. play.stop, play.pause, play.start, play.fast.reverse).
&play.fast.reverse;fast reverse. fast reverse button for going back in a movie or sound, as on cassette or CD player (cf. play.stop, play.pause, play.start, play.fast.reverse).
&work;work in progress/under construction. Often added to a document that is in a very preliminary state. (The icon is based on the traffic sign of a road worker and a heap of sand. In countries where the sign is unknown or looks different, the entity may have to be displayed with a different icon.)
&www;The World-Wide Web. To refer to the WWW as a whole, to mark a URL, etc.
&html;HTML. Information about HTML, mark a document as being in HTML, link to an HTML version, etc.

Unicode Icons

Most of these are in Unicode now, see:

If you have a question, put $5 at patreon and message me.

  1. Emoji 😂
  2. Hand 👍
  3. Food 🍎
  4. Love 💋
  5. Clothing 👠
  6. Animal 🐰
  7. Insect 🐞
  8. Plant 🌵
  9. Sport
  10. Astrology 🌛
  11. Weather 🌧
  12. Place 🎪
  13. Signs
  14. Vehicle 🚀
  15. Things 🔪
  16. Tech 🎧
  17. Office 📌
  18. UI 🗑
  19. Clock
  20. Music 🎶
  21. Flags 🏁
  22. Sex
  23. Stars
  24. Cross
  25. Games
  26. Shapes
  27. Box
  28. Dingbats
  29. Keyboard
  30. Common ©
  31. Punctuation
  32. Currency
  33. Circled
  34. Arrow
  35. Bracket «»
  36. Math
  37. Math
  38. Greek α
  39. APL
  40. ASCII
  41. Hieroglyph 𓂀
  42. Unit
  43. full-width

How To

  1. How to Input Unicode
  2. Download Font


  1. Unicode 11
  2. Unicode 10
  3. Unicode 9
  4. Unicode 8
  5. Unicode 7

Unicode Art

  1. Japan Unicode Art
  2. Unicode Art
  3. Unicode Art Font Emulation
  4. Emoji Tale: Good Night Gone Bad
  5. Unicode Smilies (¬_¬)


  1. Emoji Frequency
  2. emoji vs emoticon
  3. Unicode Equivalence
  4. Symbol Become Emoji