WORD CLOUDS are weighted visual representations of text. While it may be fun to turn a book or blog into one, word clouds can also help writers gain insights on word choice and keyword prevalence. I’ve included links to 5 sites for creating word clouds and an example cloud from each.
Most word cloud generators automatically eliminate function words and numbers. I often find they provide a quick way of gauging whether or strong verbs and adjectives versus too many weak verbs and annoying adverbs. The potential application for vocabulary development with students and language learners is manifold.
Wordle: This is widely popular and has been around for a long time. The clouds can be opened in a new window, printed, or saved to the public gallery. To save the image, take screen shot and then paste it into a photo program for further editing. The randomize effect makes it quick and painless to arrive at a satisfactory word cloud.
I Don’t Believe God Wrote the Bible: A forthcoming travel memoir by Gerald Freeman critiqued and copy edited by me.
Tagexedo: This site is a bit more sophisticated and allows users to choose various shapes to apply to their word clouds. It also allows for a wide array of file sizes and types to be saved. Users can even purchase items like T-shirts and coffee mugs to display their masterpieces. The site includes a great slideshow of 101 Ways to Use Tagxedo.
Stealing Time: A time travel thriller by KJ Waters copy edited by me (and my longest project to date).
WordItOut: Similar to Wordle, but I found the means for downloading images to not be ideal. On the other hand, it allows the user to pick a point on the picture to set a new target that the text will all center around. This is helpful when it comes to leaving space on either side for other info or even book covers.
Fogged Up Fairy Tale: A chick-lit detective story critiqued and proofread by me.
Tagul: Similar to Tagexedo. The process stuck me as very user-friendly and I really liked the way each work in the cloud appeared in a table for better manipulation. Users need to sign in using one of their social media accounts.
Claudia Must Die: A novella thriller by T. B. Markinson which I proofread and wrote the book blurb for.
WordSift: At first glance, this is a seeminly no-frills word cloud tool limited to 65,000 words developed by Standford. Upon closer inspection, many possibilities are realized (primarily from an educational standpoint). Still, the visual thesaurus and links to Google image, text, and video sources make this a powerful tool for mapping information.
Yellowstone Encounters of the Animal Kind: The second installment in my National Park Experience travel memoirs.
Depending on your browser and your default settings, issues might arise with various plugins the word cloud sites need to function. The only way I could get a couple to work was to disable all of my Chrome Plugins and then turn them back on.
With some practice, it’s possible to make quite sophisticated clouds. Also, the additional text with book titles and author names was added using the free photo editing site PicMonkey. For more word clouds feel free to view Diction Activity: Word Clouds. A former student of mine made a word cloud out of the entire text of The Odyssey.
Have you tinkered with any of these word cloud sites? What other tools have you used to analyze text from a creative writing or SEO standpoint?
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