Wordle “create word clouds”

Wordle is an amazingly easy to use web 2.0 website, which allows anyone to generate really creative word clouds by providing text. Words that are used more frequently, or specified as important, are made larger and stand out. The words clouds can then be customised with a variety of font styles, colours and layouts. The beauty of Wordle is that there is no sign up or log-in required and once completed you are free to use your word cloud in any way that you like. Use it in the classroom, put it on your website, even put it on a shirt or poster and make money from it.

A wordle tag cloud

A tag cloud made in Wordle by copy/pasting the text from this review

Features (Good)

Wordle allows you to input your text in a few different ways. You can type words individually, but this is time consuming. My favourite is to copy and paste your words from another source like a webpage, text document, newspaper article or even a subject’s online syllabus. This method generates some interesting results with minimal effort. A third method is to enter the URL of any web page that has an RSS feed. You can use my rss feed to the right of this screen if you want to give this method a try.

Wordle will automatically emphasise words which are repeated often by increasing their size to make them stand out. You can also specify how important a word is by going to the advanced option and using a colon. E.g. donuts:20 cream:15 butter:3 This feature prevents you from having to repeat typing important words over and over.

A tip for keeping multiple words together is to leave out the space e.g. TwoWords or use the symbol “~” e.g. Two~Words. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure this out and it does not appear to be written anywhere on the Wordle web site, which is very strange and frustrating.

After you have input all your text, Worde creates a random designed “word cloud.” You are then provided with many options for customising it. You can play around with different fonts, colour schemes and the layout of the words, e.g. Horizontal, Vertical, Mixed, Any which way, Alphabetical Order, etc. You can even create a custom palette of colours to match your presentation, web page or business.

Once you are happy with your completed Wordle you have a few options. You can save it online (which means it’s visible for anyone to see), embed (link) it to your blog, website or wiki, print it onto paper, print and save it as a .pdf file (you can then show it on an electronic whiteboard), or use the snipping tool to save it as a jpeg, gif or png file.

Another tag cloud from Wordle

Tag clouds can be saved online for anyone to view

 

Features (Not So Good)

Once you click the create button it’s very difficult to go back and modify your words. If you are inputting words individually or using the advanced colon option, I seriously advise writing the words in a word processing document and then copying and pasting them into Wordle. Sometimes things go wrong and you lose all the words, which is frustrating and time consuming to start again.

The other flaw in Wordle is that you can not specify the canvas size or shape. There is only one standard size for all Wordle images which is roughly 768pixels x 556 pixels or a ratio of 4:3. If you are trying to create for a poster or web page, you may need more flexibility. Other websites like Tagxedo allow word clouds to be customised to shapes. Hopefully more features will be added to Wordle in the future.

Ease of use

The simplicity of Wordle is its best feature and the layout and design of the website is great. Most of the Wordle website including links and text are black and white, then suddenly after inputting your text colourful and creative word cloud appear in front of your eyes. You can then play with the layout, colours and fonts until your heart’s content.

Another tag cloud from wordle

Tag clouds can be customised with colours, fonts and even the direction of words

 

Value

Wordle is 100% free to use with no sign up or log-in. The images created by the Wordle application are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This means you are free to do what you want with your created word cloud, even make money from them. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Support

Because Wordle is 100% free to use and the website does not having any banner advertising, this means that little support is provided. If you have a question you can post it to the forum and hope it gets answered. Your other options are to check out the FAQs page or search Google for tips.

Overall Rating  4 stars

I am very impressed with how easy Wordle is to use and how professional the word clouds look. You can produce your first word cloud in under a minute if you copy and paste the text from a Word document or another website. The fact that they do not require users to sign up and you are free to use the word cloud images without restrictions is great. I did find Wordle frustrating a times, as after inputting my text using the advanced options it was unable to create the word cloud and it would not allow me to go back to the words I just wrote. This means you have to start inputting words all over again. I suggest typing your words in a Word processing document and then pasting them into Wordle. If anything goes wrong or you want to make changes, it’s then easy to copy and paste the words back in. While there is some customisation available, I would love to see more added in the future.

Using Wordle at school

Ideas for using Wordle with students

Watch an Edjudo tutorial showing how to get started with Wordle.net

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Comments

  1. i love it the cloud just turns out awsome.i think that wordle clouds are good decorations and gifts for people who you know what they like

  2. Use it with my careers class to develop ‘clouds’ of self reflection. They love developing a professional quality poster that is them- creative, insightful, beautiful.

  3. Hasselblad says:

    Great article.

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