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Mater Christi College Learning Commons : Making Word Clouds

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What is a word cloud?

word cloud
Also known as a tag cloud or text cloud
noun
 
  1. an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance.
    "Louise generated a word cloud of lyrics from the new album"
     
     

A word cloud is a data visualisation which is designed to communicate information in a graphical form. It is easy with a weighted word cloud to glean meaning from a block of text that might not be otherwise achievable without lots of time spent reading and processing what the text is saying.

Ideas for word clouds (taken from TagCrowd):

  • as topic summaries for speeches and written works
  • as blog tool or website analysis for search engine optimization (SEO)
  • for visual analysis of qualitative data
  • as brand clouds that let companies see how they are perceived by the world
  • for data mining a text corpus
  • for helping writers and students reflect on their work as name tags
  • for conferences, cocktail parties or wherever new collaborations start to digest resumes in a single glance as visual poetry

The list goes on and continues to grow ...

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Examples of effective word clouds

Using the same set of data, we have created several clouds so that you can see the difference in layout and potential.

With a list of books read by Year 8's, we imported them into a word processor and then find/replaced every space in the title with a tilda (~) and then cut and paste the list into the various word cloud generators.

Created with Tagul

Created with TagCrowd

Created with ABCYa

Answergarden

A great tool to use if you are gathering data from students and you want to build a word cloud in real time.

Create a driving question, distribute the link and then watch the answers come in.

Wordle

Wordle is a site for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide.

The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. Wordle advanced also allows you to individually weight words.

You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish.

TagCrowd

TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any text by creating what is popularly known as a word cloud, text cloud or tag cloud.

Less flexibility in layout and fonts, but still works well.

Tagul

Tagul is a web service that enables you to create gorgeous word clouds. The premium version allows you to export in vector format (where you could get decals made). Although it deals with the data differently than the other tools, you can get greater control over what your resulting cloud looks like and which words are emphasised.

Other word cloud tools