Sunday, April 7, 2013

Word Cloud Generators

Word clouds have become quite popular tools for visualizing texts. Words in the cloud are single word tags, that show how frequently a word has been used in a text which is useful for understanding main ideas or concepts. Words that are bigger in size and thickness are the ones that are frequently seen in a text.

When we hear word cloud we mainly think of Wordle, but there are many more word cloud generators that could be better or worse than Wordle. So why not give them a try?

1. Tagxedo 
The site doesn't require registration. You start by typing/pasting in a URL, or a twitter/ ID, a keyword in the news or RSS. Then you choose the shape, layout, font and theme and click 'submit'. After the word cloud has been generated, you see a panel with more editing choices. When you are happy with the cloud, you can save it as JPG or PNG in different sizes or simply share it on the web.

2. ABCya!
A nice tool which doesn't require registration. You simply type or paste in the text and it creates a word cloud. This site doesn't accept links to articles that you would like to create a word cloud of. There is no choice in shapes but layout, font and colour can be selected. The generated word cloud can be printed immediately or saved, but in this case don't forget to add what format you want the image to be saved as. for example, I just add .jpg after the name of the file to save it as JPG image. If no format is specified, the image doesn't open.

3. WordItOut
The site doesn't require registration but when you have finished creating your word cloud it asks for an email address to which a link to your word cloud is sent. You just click on the link and can either download the image or share on various social networking sites. There doesn't seem to be an embed code but a picture can be uploaded onto any site, so that doesn't really matter.
Font, colours and size can be customized, but there is no choice of shapes and the layout of word tags is only horizontal.

4. TagCrowd
This tool doesn't require registration either. Word clouds can be created by either typing/pasting in a text, pasting a URL or even uploading a file which is quite handy. However, the word cloud created cannot be customized: there is no choice in font, colour, layout or shape. All word tags are horizontal on white background and of different shades of blue. The word cloud can be saved as a PDF file, but not as a picture. It can be printed and HTML code is also provided (but it doesn't embed an image, just a list of words), to add a sample image I had to make a screenshot of the cloud.

5. Tagul
You have to register first before you can start creating word clouds, but this is not a long process. You are sent a password which you can change after logging in.
To create a word cloud, you can either enter the text you want or the URL of the text you need..Next thing to do is to choose appearance, font, colours and click 'Visualize". When  the image appears, you can manually edit tags to get rid of articles, modal or auxiliray verbs, etc. After saving the changes, you need to click on 'Grab and Share'. Here you can either download the image as a picture file, print, get the HTML code or the link.

6. ImageChef
ImageChef Word Mosaic -
You don't have to register with the website to be able to create word clouds. However, if you want to save your creations onto "My stuff", you should. The site allows creation of not only word clouds but also of visual poetry, banners, sketchpads, etc. Before you start creating a word mosaic, you can choose a shape, a background and word colour and font. You need to type or paste in a text (but a small one, it doesn't work with longer texts) and the word mosaic will be generated. You can choose the size of the image, you can share it on almost every social networking site, embed it and grab the link. By dragging the image onto your PC desktop, you can also save it as a picture file.

7. VocabGrabber
This is a very useful tool for language learners. It doesn't require registration. All you have to do is paste in a text and click 'Grab Vocabulary'. It creates a word cloud a screenshot of which can be seen on the left.

It also shows how many words have been found in the thesaurus and allows you to create a wordlist.

And the beauty of it is that the word cloud created is interactive. When you click on a word, the site creates a snapshot of a visual thesaurus for that word;

provides the definitions of the word;

and gives sample sentences with that word in them.

8. TagCloud
No registration required to use this site. You cannot type in a text, you only have to paste the URL to convert whatever is on the site into a word cloud. The result is a very nice looking flash word cloud that can be downloaded as a zip file. I have taken a screenshot of the cloud because it cannot be added to the blog as it is, i.e. a flash word cloud. It also provides an embed code, but it only comes up as a list of words as can be seen below.
learning resources blended approach face classroom instructional materials course time online addition used state blend students content higher

9. YouAreYourWords
The site doesn't require registration. All you have to do is to upload a picture whcih you want to be the background of your word cloud, then paste the text and choose colours from a limited range. You can also choose the font. You can then share your word cloud and/or download it as image. The product looks nice, but I am not so sure about its use in education as it is a bit difficult to read the text.

10. Wordle
This site doesn't require registration. The downside is the size of the embeded image - it is very small. To solve this problem, you can either click on 'print' and then save it as a PDF file, or, alternatively, you can make a screenshot of the image after saving it to the public gallery.
Another problem with this site is getting word tags using a link. If the site, the URL of which you have pasted into the bar, doesn't have Atom or RSS feed, Wordle cannot create a cloud. However, pasting in a text usually bypasses this problem.
Font, size, colours and word tag layout are customizable, but the shape cannot be selected.

And finally, a Slideshare user vreed17 has added a presentation with 40 ideas for word cloud use in education.

Forty Interesting Ways To Use Wordle In The C from Vreed17

Word Clouds generated using the article at PennState


  1. You might also like to try Phoetic, not a website, but an iOS app (99 cents). It uses images and text as input, but the words are still quite readable. (DISCLAIMER: I am the developer of Phoetic)

  2. Thank you Jack. I might give it a go. :-)

  3. This is a really cool website. Great job, the comments are really insightful.

    load bank hire & generator maintenance

  4. Dear John,
    Thank you for your comment. I am glad that the post is still useful.