Wordle – Create word clouds (how-to)

By | January 27, 2015

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What is Wordle?

Wordle is an online tool for generating so-called ‘word clouds’ (Also known as ‘tag clouds’). Word clouds are images used to visually represent what a specific piece of text is about, as keywords that are used more often are displayed larger in the word cloud. On Wordle you can enter a piece of text or a link, click GO, and your word cloud will be generated. You can pick different fonts, layouts, and color schemes, and more. Or just click ‘Randomize’ a few times until you find a look that you like. All word clouds generated on wordle are completely free to use for any purpose. Wordle requires Java to run.

How to make a word cloud on Wordle

Input text and running the application

Go to wordle.net, and click ‘Create’ in the menu bar. Either copy and paste your text in the large text box, and click ‘GO’, or enter a link to a page you want to make a Word cloud from and click ‘Submit’.

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Java will asks for your permission to run the application. Click ‘Run’.

Worlde-how-to-run-java

The application will now automatically generate your random word cloud.

Wordle-how-to-random-word-cloud

Language options to remove common words, and case options

Wordle-Language-options

The application will automatically filter out so-called ‘stop words’, common words like ‘the’, ‘is’, ‘at’, ‘to’, ‘and’, because in most cases, these are not interesting words to be displayed. The app automatically filters out English stop words. If you’re making a word cloud in any other language than English, click ‘Edit’ in the menu bar, Click ‘Language’ in the menu bar, and select ‘Remove common [yourlanguage] words’. In this menu, you can also choose to allow all common words by clicking on ‘Do Not Remove Common Words’. There are also some options to make all words lower-case, upper case, or to guess the case for each word.

Font options

Wordle-Font-options

The font menu allows you to pick a specific font for your word cloud. There are currently over 30 different fonts to choose from. Simply click the font you’d like to use, and a new word cloud will be generated with a new font.

Layout options

Wordle-Layout-options

In the layout menu, you can set:

  • Maximum words. If you set this to for instance 10, only the 10 most frequently used words in your original text will be used. This option can be great to use to filter the less important words out of your word cloud.
  • Prefer Alphabetical Order. If you select this option, words will be placed into the word cloud in alphabetical order, meaning the words that start with an ‘A’ will be in your cloud at the left side, and words starting with a ‘Z’ will be on the right side of your cloud.
  • Rounder or Straighter Edges. With rounder edges, the words will be laid out in a rounder shape (more like an actual cloud), with Straighter Edges your words will be laid out in a square shape.
  • Orientation options. 
    • Any Which Way – The words will be laid out in any possible orientation, at any angle, instead of either horizontal or vertical.
    • Horizontal – all your words will be placed in your cloud horizontally.
    • Mostly Horizontal – most of your words will appear horizontally.
    • Half and Half – words will be laid out roughly 50% horizontally, and 50% vertically.
    • Mostly Vertical – most of your words will appear vertically.
    • Vertical – all words will appear vertically.

Color options

Wordle-color-options

In the color options menu, there are multiple options for getting the word cloud colored exactly the way you like.

Pressing ‘Recolor’ will randomly reassign colors from your current color palette to your current word cloud.
You can also choose from 14 different preset color palettes, or use a custom palette. Click ‘Edit Custom Palette’ to set up to 5 color you like for your custom palette.

Wordle-custom-color-palette

There are five different variation options. Variation in this case means how much the actual colors in your word cloud will vary from the color palette you have selected. Selecting ‘Exact Palette Colors’ will make the words appear only in the exact colors in your pallete. The more variation you allow, the more the colors will vary from your chosen palette. This means that with for instance ‘Some variation’ set, some ‘blue’ words in your will turn out slightly purple.

Bottom menu options

There are four more options in the bottom menu of the Wordle application:

Wordle-bottom-menu

The ‘Open in Window’ button opens the java app in a new window. The print button allows you to directly print your creation. Randomize creates a completely new word cloud with a random font, layout, and colors. The ‘Save to public gallery’ button allows you to save your word cloude to the Wordle website gallery: wordle.net/gallery.

Saving your Wordle

Unfortunately, there is no way to directly save your picture; you’ll have to take a screenshot.

Example word clouds

Here are some examples of what your end result can look like, using the same text (the text in this article), but different options:

Example-word-cloud-1 Example-word-cloud-3 Example-word-cloud-6 Example-word-cloud-7
Example-word-cloud-4 Example-word-cloud-2 Example-word-cloud-8 Example-word-cloud-5

Links

Wordle.net
If you have any other problems with Wordle, see their own FAQ.

2 thoughts on “Wordle – Create word clouds (how-to)

  1. Greg

    Hi Guido,

    looking at wordle my browser claims security issues because of the Java plugins the site wants to install. Even another browser claims that installing Active-X from unknown sources is not save, because other plugins and spy-tools can be installed without me even noticing.

    What do you think about these concerns. The Author of Wordle ‘Hides’ behind a mask on its About me (contact) page – a bit strange!

    Thanks for your respond in advance – perhaps I can learn from your Answer something about security or Java-Use – (Could be a Post Idea for your awesome Website as well?!?)

    Bye
    Greg

    Reply

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