You’ve probably seen them. Puffy groups of words that illustrate articles, especially those that you read on the internet. Yes, they have a name – Word Clouds.
Why are they seemingly so prolific? Word clouds are great visual tools because they help to communicate ideas in a very direct way by putting the focus on the most important words in a story. As an added bonus, there are free programs that easily let you create amazing word clouds in minutes!
How can I use Word Clouds?
- For writers, they are a creative way to visualize the text you’re working on. It allows you to see what words you are using the most, so you can get a quick sense of the themes emerging in your writing. Use them to illustrate stories and articles.
- As a reader, it can help you focus on the keywords of an article to help you decide if it’s going to be relevant to your interests.
- For the creative person, word clouds are fun! There are unlimited colors, shapes and styles from which to choose.
- For teachers, add eye-popping color and visual interest to your materials to illustrate your presentation.
- For the curious, learn something new and amaze your friends and family!
- For anyone, add pizzazz to your emails, add interest to your social media posts and even add pop to your holiday newsletters!
How are word clouds created? A word cloud is created by counting words in text that you supply. The more words you include when creating your word cloud, generally the better your results will be. This is especially true when creating shapes – like the butterfly above. By default, the more frequently a word is found, the larger it becomes in the word cloud. This draws your reader to the key points of your story.
How can I create Word Clouds?
Are you ready to try one? I’ll guide you through it. Word clouds are fun and easy to create using free programs, or as a free add-in to Microsoft’s Word or PowerPoint.
I recently tried several online programs to create word clouds. I’ll give you details about two of the best free sites that I found, plus instructions on how to use Microsoft’s free Pro Word Cloud add-in for Word and PowerPoint users.
Word It Out – Easy
- Pros: Easy to use; Colors can be customized; Word list easy to adjust
- Cons: Limited fonts; only one layout arrangement; Save it to a link first to be able to download your image; some ads; email is required (workaround; use a snipping tool)
- How to get: Go to the URL, https://worditout.com/word–cloud/ .
- How to use: Word It Out opens in an original text window. Copy and paste the text of your document or use a list of keywords. Click Generate. Adjust font style and colors then and regenerate to get your desired results. Click Save and follow the instructions.
- Click Example to see how it works with sample text.
- Use a snipping tool to copy your image and paste it, or save it to your document.
WordClouds – Easy to medium
Wordclouds.com is the most fun. It’s a free online word cloud generator and works on your PC, tablet or smartphone. Paste text, upload a document or open a URL to generate a word cloud automatically. Customize your cloud with shapes, themes, colors and fonts.
- Pros: Many fun and creative shape choices; Easy to edit the word list to customize your word results
- Cons: Limited built-in themes; Changing colors and fonts takes some practice, but the Wizard is very helpful
- How to get: go to the URL, https://www.wordclouds.com/. Use the Wizard for the first time. Enter some text to try out how it works. Explore the options to upload files.
- How to use: You need to provide the text (type, copy/paste or upload a document). Use the Wizard for the first few times. Use the File drop-down to save your word cloud. Or right-click for save options.
- Tips: Gallery and FAQ links are good places for ideas. Under Shape, try out the Letters and Colorful options (Christmas tree, pumpkin).
Microsoft’s Pro Word Cloud add-in for Word and PowerPoint – a good choice for writers, medium to advanced Microsoft suite users
- Pros: Fairly easy to install and works the same for both Word and PowerPoint; Provides complimentary color schemes; Easy to use; Saves a copy to your Gallery
- Cons: Limited range of layouts and color schemes; Limited ability to modify word list
- How to get it: Open Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Go to your Insert Select Get Add-ins. Type Pro Word Cloud in the search box. Find the add-in in the list and select Add. Follow the prompts to install the add-in.
- How to use it: You have written some text in Word or PowerPoint and you are ready to create a word cloud. With your document open, go to the Insert tab and select My Add-ins. Select Pro Word Cloud and on the bottom of the screen, be sure to select Add. The Pro Word Cloud window will open on the right-hand side of your document. Make sure the text in your document or presentation is highlighted! Then, select from the list of fonts, colors, layouts and other options in the window. Click on Create Word Cloud.
- Right-click on the word cloud that is created. Select Copy and then paste it into your document, presentation or even an email or social media post. Or select Save Picture As to save it to use later.
- Use a thicker font style for more readability. Use a thinner font style to create a more pleasing design.
- Analyze your writing. The words that appear largest are the most used in your highlighted text. Are they the most important to convey your ideas?
What’s next? Unleash your curiosity! Create a word cloud today to add pop to your writing, be creative, or learn something new. Here are some creative holiday examples using the words from this blog.
Diane White is an OLLI Instructor and OLLI Connects blog consultant. She joined OLLI-USF in 2008 and has taken OLLI courses in art, art appreciation, architecture, music, great books, science, nature, literature, and leadership. Diane is a member of OLLI’s Tech Squad. She teaches beginning and intermediate courses on Word, Android Phone Tips and Tricks for Intermediate Users in addition to Wanna Blog? which she will teach again in the 2019 Winter semester.