Wordle: Building Word Clouds

Looking for a way to visually represent those proposals you may have just finished for annual conference?  The focus of this post is on a website that I frequent. Wordle is a fun and EASY way to make word clouds that represent your ideas in a more visual format.

Here is a recent example from our EERA (Maumee Valley) 4-H Volunteer Training comments that we collected (click on picture for a bigger size):


From taking the comments made about the session, I was able to copy and past the information into Wordle and share in a glimpse what our training focused on. Do you see the biggest word? “kids”. When you type words into the wordle (which we will get to soon) words that are typed more than once become bigger. So by looking at the world above, you can tell that more of the evaluations mentioned “kids” than  “responsibility”. Now you also get some words in there that don’t really do anything more than fill space, such as “by-laws”. Who would have thought that would have come up in a written evaluation?

Now hopefully I have you at least somewhat convinced to at least explore Wordle.  I will give some more ideas of implementations that may be useful for Wordle, but for now…

Let’s Get Started!

Open your browser of choice and go to the following link: http://wordle.net

Once you are on the homepage there are a number of things you could look at. For examples look down, there are usually four examples to look at. If you click on the “more” button you can see more designs (if you need inspired)

But lets say you are inspired and ready to make text look interesting? You will click the “Create” button at the top of the page to begin creating your very own Wordle.

You have two options at this point:
Copy and paste text from your annual conference proposals OR enter a URL of a website (usually a blog)

Option #1 Copy & Pasting text for a Wordle

For those of you who like to follow directly along we will be pasting the following into the top box.

Expenses as material breeding insisted building to in. Continual so distrusts pronounce by unwilling listening. Thing do taste on we manor. Him had wound use found hoped. Of distrusts immediate enjoyment curiosity do. Marianne numerous saw thoughts the humoured. Prepared is me marianne pleasure likewise debating. Wonder an unable except better stairs do ye admire. His and eat secure called esteem praise. So moreover as speedily differed branched ignorant. Tall are her knew poor now does then. Procured to contempt oh he raptures amounted occasion. One boy assure income spirit lovers set.

(Yes, this is “random” text and there are websites to make it up for you such as Random Text Generator)

It should look like this:

(click on picture for a bigger size)

Then you will hit the “go” button below the text.

Note: You can now skip down to the section titled “Customization of your Wordle” to learn what to do next!

Option #2 Entering a URL for a Wordle

Find a webpage that you wish to “wordle” for this example we used this blog!

Click on the submit button, and the same customization below will apply!

(click on picture for a bigger size)

This is the wordle that was generated using the EdgeU Tech Blog!

Now, on to the fun part! How to make it look how you want it to!

Customization of your Wordle

From here you can customize your wordle to take on any look that you wish!

Note: The “Randomize” Button is also a unique option for giving you different looks with the same words.

A few words about Font, Layout and Color

  • Font ranges from script, to formal, to bold. Going through the list will give you a better idea of what would look the most professional in each situation.
  • Layout is a little more complicated. The two main features to know are the “rounder vs straighter edges” and orientation of the text “horizontal, vertical, half and half”.  The best thing to do is to click away and try each feature to get a feel for them, it is almost virtually impossible to “mess up” a wordle!
  • Color offers a few default color schemes to work with. If you feel adventurous you can try to edit the custom palette. You can also give variation from close, or to wild variations of color. Again, this is a play with it and see what feels right kind of feature.

How do I keep my Wordle?

This is slightly more complicated. Once you have your worlde the best thing I have found to “capture” it is to take a screen shot of your screen and paste it into a word document or paint. To capture the screen shot most computers can use the function key and then F11. Once pasted into a document you can crop and edit it for print uses.

Other Uses

  • I have used wordle to help teens to get to know themselves better. I have their peer describe them (given a list of POSITIVE terms) and turn them in. I then copy and paste the terms into wordle and it gives the teen a nice visual description of themselves. In fact, Jerry Thomas did this in one of my graduate classes, and I still have it in my office!
  • Worlde looks great on posters! For the Galaxy conference I had the evaluations of the teen leadership program printed on the poster. It was a good way to visually break up the design and fun to look at for people passing by.
  • For more professional use, I have found that if I copy and paste a large paper in worlde, it will show the words that I am using the most (the larger words remember).


I hope this beginning guide helps you all explore the visual fun of wordle! As always if you have questions please contact me at gottke.4@osu.edu.


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