Faceless Characters: Screen Beans

Created: Wednesday, August 28, 2013, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 9:45 am

Updated: at

We discussed a bit about faceless characters in our last post. And if you are an old-time user of Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you must have seen an entire collection of faceless characters – all in the same style. These were called Screen Beans, and these were so frequently used in PowerPoint slides that audiences actually got over-familiar with them to the extent that they did not want to see yet another slide with a Screen Bean character! No. we are not blaming the Screen Beans themselves — just that these were probably the only faceless characters available at that time, and everyone used them!

Want to know how the Screen Bean characters looked like – the figure below may refresh your memory!

Screen Beans
Some Screen Bean samples

These Screen Beans were a prominent part of the Clip Art Gallery app that provided graphics for Microsoft Office programs. Screen Beans were not created by Microsoft themselves but licensed from a company called A Bit Better Corporation. Their site now just contains a single page that lets you know that they no longer sell these Screen Beans.

That’s a far cry away from a decade or more ago, when these Screen Beans were hugely popular. Internet access was not as fast or widespread then as it is today — and most presentation designers did not depend on online stock photo sites. Rather most of them bought huge collections of clip art spread across multiple CDs and DVDs. Even Screen Beans were available as a clip art collection you could buy, because not all Screen Bean graphics were available from Microsoft. You could always upgrade to a larger collection.

Do you want to use some Screen Bean characters today? Fortunately Microsoft still holds a redistribution license for some Screen Beans — download them from here and your PowerPoint slides could get that vintage look!

Screen Beans on Office.com

End Note: Found a fan page on Facebook for ScreenBeans!

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