Wordle: satonner delicious

The adage, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ refers to the notion that complex ideas or large amounts of data can be quickly understood through presenting the information visually. The practice of information visualisation can be traced from cave drawings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to our current digital visual representations. One relatively new form of digital information visualisation is a tag-cloud: a visual representation of textual data.

What is Wordle?
Wordle is a simple-to-use online software tool for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can customise your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with others.

Why use Wordle?

A Wordle can summarise digital text, a journal or an essay, to provide a visual representation of the key words associated with the text. These visual representations can then be used to introduce or summarise the key points pertaining to a new concept, a student’s essay or ideas generated from a group of learners.

Examples of using Wordle:

Primary Education students collaborative brainstorming of what 'Creativity' means:


Analysing the key words from a textual prose: Rome and Juliet:


Analysing questionnaire responses:


Analysing an essay:


Ten ideas for using Wordle in Higher Education

The following list was based on responses by Primary Student Teachers on the PGDE (P) Programme.

  1. Paste the URL from a discussion forum to discover the key vocabulary used
  2. Paste information from a news article to find key elements
  3. Use a Wordle based on the lyrics of a song or words of a poem to promote discussion on the main themes
  4. Enter respondents’ word associations to test links between concepts and ideas
  5. See how the themes of a book change by entering each chapter and comparing results
  6. Enter feedback from students to find reoccurring language (see example)
  7. Copy an essay into Wordle to test whether there is a balance of arguments
  8. Ask students to brainstorm what they know about a topic to formatively assess their knowledge
  9. Use a Wordle based on a text to formatively assess students’ understanding of key terms near the end of a topic
  10. Process responses to a question to assess common incorrect answers

How To Use Wordle

1. Go to Wordle.

2. Select the Create option.

3. You can type or paste in text into the first box. If you wish specific words to appear larger you should retype these a few times. (There are another two options: enter a webpage's URL or enter a Delicious user's name).

4. Once you have entered your text select GO.

5. Your Wordle will now appear on the screen. You can use the Randomise option below your Wordle to view different visual representations or you can personalise the look of your Wordle through using the format tools along the tops of your Wordle.

6. To be able to retrieve your Wordle you can publish the Wordle or you can take a screen shot and paste into a document (you will need to use a Photo Editing Software to select only the picture of your Wordle - more information how to do this can be found at:

To find out more about Wordle watch this video demonstrationsor contact Sharon Tonner to find out how to use Wordle to its full potential in Education (s . a . tonner @ dundee . ac . uk).