So you’ve been working like crazy on your most recent research project and you’re almost done, but you have one more step left. You think to yourself, “I’m looking for an eye-catching and fun way to convey the main ideas of my project so people will understand it at a glance. Can there possibly be a solution to this problem?”

The answer, of course, is yes.

Wordle.net is a data visualization tool that allows you to create word clouds out of any body of text that you like, and it’s easy and fun to do! Your first step will be to click on “Create” at the top of the page and enter the source text from which you want your Wordle to be created.

You have a few options when choosing what source text to use. If you have your own text that you want to work with, enter it into the text box at the top of the page. If there’s a blog that you want to Wordle-ize, enter its URL into the second space on the page. Then click “Go” and let Wordle work its magic! The more prominent a word is in the source text that you entered, the bigger it will appear in the word cloud.

Once you have the word cloud on the screen in front of you, it may not be formatted the way you want it, so you’ll want to play around with the tools at the top left:

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The “Language” tab will help you control the case of the words and allow you to remove common words like “the” and “and” that you may not want in your cloud (as well as common words from specific foreign languages if you’re not working in English). The “Font” tab will let you change the font of the words to whatever style you like. The “Layout” tab allows you to specify whether you want your cloud to be rounded or straight around the edges and whether you want your words to be horizontal, vertical, some combination of the two, or any crazy way. The “Color” tab gives you some options for default color palettes for you to choose from, or you can scroll down to “Edit Custom Palette” and specify each individual color you want.

When you’re done customizing your Wordle (and you’re done playing around with all the crazy color combinations and silly fonts), you can print it using the Print button at the bottom or you can click on “Save to public gallery”. When you click this button, your Wordle becomes public and you’ll receive an HTML code to copy so you can embed the Wordle into your own blog posts!

Some things to remember:

  • If you click on “Save to public gallery”, your Wordle WILL be made public and everyone who visits the site will be able to see it.
  • Sadly, a Wordle cannot be downloaded and saved as an image on your computer. Your only options are to print it or save it to the public gallery and use the HTML code to embed it.
  • If you change the edges and specify whether you want the words horizontal or vertical and you STILL don’t like the way your Wordle is laid out, you can click on the “Layout” tab and select “Re-layout with current settings”. Your settings will be preserved but the actual words will be rearranged.
  • The same concept applies to the color of the words. If you think your Wordle is just too blue, you can click on “Color” and select “Recolor” to redistribute the coloring of the words.
If you’re looking for inspiration before you start, check out the gallery by clicking on “Gallery” at the top of the page. You can see some Wordles that other people have created and get some ideas for how to customize your own! And as always, if you have any questions or need some help, please stop by the lab and ask a consultant!
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