An example comes from a cartoon where there is a woman talking to her boyfriend.

There's a "cloud" that comes from her mouth, and the text inside reads: "You're so handsome." But there is another cloud that comes from the top of her head (brain), and the text reads: "Man, does he have bad breath."

What are these "clouds" called? Would "halo" be a suitable term?

And what is this technique called that shows what a character is really thinking as opposed to what she is saying?


They're called speech bubbles and thought bubbles, respectively. Speech bubbles usually have clean edges and a kind of triangle pointing to the speaker's mouth; thought bubbles have puffy, cloud-like edges, and the connection to the speaker is a trail of individual round bubbles.

I might call the technique "disconnect," but I'm not sure if that's the official term.

  • 2
    The thoughts are sometimes called the "internal monologue." – Chris Sunami supports Monica Feb 24 '15 at 16:25
  • @ChrisSunami: Very good point. That's the other term I was looking for. Thank you. – Tom Au Feb 24 '15 at 17:01
  • @TomAu "Internal monologue" is the correct term for the mental stream of consciousness. It may be the same as what the person is saying or it may not; that term doesn't have anything to do with the content. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 24 '15 at 18:31
  • If I understand correctly, the "thought bubbles" contain the internal monologue, and the "speech bubbles" the dialog. – Tom Au Feb 24 '15 at 18:52
  • @TomAu Yes. I just wanted to clarify that simply because there are thought bubbles and speech bubbles, it does not require that the content be different. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Feb 24 '15 at 22:09

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