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Friday, March 22, 2013

Creating fun word cloud graphics

Recently several people have asked how I made the graphic word cloud (shown above) over on my Facebook page .  Since there seems to be an interest in creating these, you have to admit they are darn cool, I thought I would share with you my secret.  Wordle.  

Wordle is a website that generates word clouds from text that you provide. It is a free site and you may use your Wordle however you want to.  One thing to keep in mind is that if you save your creation to the public gallery anyone can use it.  I didn't want my graphic, with family surnames and etc. to be used by anyone else.  Instead I used the snip tool on my computer to cut out the graphic and save it to my picture file. You can also take a screen shot of it at the desired size and use that.  Wordle asks that you give credit to them (link backs are always great) but it is not a site requirement.   

You can create a graphic three ways: pasting in text, using a URL, or custom creation. In a nut shell, you provide the text and then the program sizes the words in the graphic based on how many times it is used in the text submission.  Let's use my blog as an example.

I pasted the text from my post "DAR Application Woes: My Hayden line is driving me crazy!" and this was the graphic Wordle created:

The larger the word, the more frequent it is used in the text.  Hint: this is a great way to find out if you are taking advantage of SEOs in your posts!  If you don't like the layout, colors, font, or words this is your chance to play with the design and make it your own.

Next I plugged in the URL for this blog:
In this graphic you get the graphic representation for the word frequency at the URL. Essentially, what I talk about the most on the blog. Once again you can tweak the colors, layout, or fonts for a more customized look.

Lastly, you can get really creative and do a completely customized Wordle.  The last tab on the website is "Advanced."  This tab is where you can let your creative juices flow in all areas.  There are three ways you can use the advanced functions.  
  1. Type a series of words with the weight you want it to have.  The higher the number the larger the word in the graphic.
  2. Type weighted words with specific hex colors so each word is the exact color you want it to be.
  3. If you are a developer you can send text from your website to create Wordles from text you generate there.
For example, I created this graphic using the surnames from the word cloud already found on my blog:
To make the words larger I added a 0 to the end of each number on my word cloud.  You also need to make sure that you follow the example format exactly or the advanced function will not work.  

Hope that all made sense to you out there.  This is a really great graphics tool and can be used in all sorts of ways.  Get creative and let me know how your creations turn out!


  1. I have a Wordle for my surnames that I use on my blog. I never thought to create one to use for my FB, Twitter, and G+ profile header. What a great idea!! Must...go...copy idea now ;)