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How do you distinguish robotic voices from normal human voices in comics?

Sometimes, in comics, you have a robotic voices coming out of a machine saying something like "Download Complete!". I am wondering how to tell the readers that these voice prompts don't come from a human being or other characters, but are generic voices coming from a machine giving a vocal prompt to the user.

I am guessing there are many ways to handle this, but what's the best way?

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I found this, but this way of doing things is not different from someone shouting, so I was looking for a way of showing the dialogue that would not be confused with someone simply shouting. Not sure if that exists, a dialogue bubble or some visual cue that's uniquely associated with a robotic voice.

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I'm not sure if there's a universal answer. Questionable Content (beware, close to 5000 stripes) uses rectangular bubbles for robot characters (as opposed to eliptic for humans). So that's one possibility.

Or you can denote with font. Print font as opposed to handwriting font, or monospace font as opposed to proportional... something that's already linked to machines in our mind. I'm thinking something reminiscent of 20th century when computers and robots were still a bit of a novelty might work pretty well.

And a different font will probably be more conspicuous than a different bubble shape, if you want it to be obvious.

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  • Another cool font choice for machine speech would be a weight-coded font like that used on the magnetic ink strip at the bottom of a (paper) check.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jan 11 at 15:24
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    I think a great option for a "robotic-looking" font is OCR-A, which was designed in 1968 for computerized optical character recognition. Another option (which I personally don't like, but someone else may like it) is the Westminster font, which was designed to look similar to the E-13B font used for magnetic ink character recognition. (The E-13B font itself doesn't have any letters, only numbers and symbols, so it's not usable for dialogue.) Jan 11 at 15:33

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