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5 word cloud sites, top choices, and why

September 4, 2012

Tagxedo editing screen

On several occasions I have encouraged readers to explore word clouds. They are not the be-all and end-all of visualizations, but they are easy to create and can be thought-provoking. My tool of choice has been Wordle. Today I explored Tagxedo, which is an excellent alternative. One feature it offers is the ability to make clouds in certain shapes. Both sites provide a great deal of flexibility. Below I list several word cloud sites where no login is required (Tagul is a popular option, but it requires an account). I suspect that after trying them all you will end up using either Wordle or Tagxedo.

Site Notes
Wordle Lots of control, many features, simplest to use (my opinion)
Tagxedo Shape-based clouds, lots of control, many features, requires Silverlight
ABCya! Lots of options, 2000-word max, no full screen, aimed at kids, uses Flash
WordItOut Some control, all horizontal
TagCrowd Limited features, all horizontal, no full screen

Where do word clouds come from?

  1. Text copied from a document
    • Syllabus
    • Course reading
    • Newspaper article
    • Campaign speech
    • Government document
    • Student work (minus personal information)
    • A German short story
  2. Words submitted on a Google Form
    • Items associated with a scientific term or concept
    • Names associated with a historic event or period
    • French words heard at a restaurant or museum
    • Topics or themes in a novel
    • Elements found in a compound
    • Most important election issues
    • Impressions of a work of music or art

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