Research Writing

What is word cloud When to use Academic papers How to make

In addition to the classic graphics, there are other resources that facilitate the visualization of data, such as the word cloud. When well used, this tool can make all the difference in the quality of scientific work. 

What is word cloud?

It is a visual resource composed of loose words about a certain subject. This tool is constantly used in science to highlight the most mentioned words in a text . 

Regardless of the system used to generate the cloud, the methodology is the same: each word has its size and color intensity determined by relevance in a corpus. 

The higher the frequency of a given term, the greater its prominence in the image. A word cited 60 times in the content, for example, appears more than one cited only 30 times. 

In the academic area, it is often used to identify the subjective aspects of a survey, especially those that are constructed from interviews with open questions. In addition, there are many other uses for and tool.

When to use?

In text analysis

These can be used in different situations. They serve as an instrument for text analysis and also for highlighting the most important topics. 

The technique is still considered useful for comparison purposes. It serves to analyze works and seek similarities between them. 

Data interpretation

Creating a word cloud can also be linked to a quiz question . Thus, the terms most mentioned by respondents appear larger, indicating greater relevance to the detriment of others.  

It is a useful tool in content analysis , especially when it comes to qualitative data. It provides a view that the graph is not able to show. 

in the resume

Some researchers use the word cloud feature to spice up the resume. In this case, the objective is to gather the words that appear most frequently in the titles of published works. 

In the didactic

Teachers use the word cloud with students in order to understand the thoughts of the class. This didactic method defends the idea of ​​simultaneous collaboration, that is, several people participate in the construction of the cloud in real time. 

in the brainstorm

Suppose you are developing a group project . Each person has their own repertoire, therefore, they know a certain subject in a way. In this context, the word cloud helps to understand what is on the mind of each team member and from there to continue the project. 

The word cloud, generated in the brainstorm , signals perceptions, values, trends and goals. 

Academic papers that use word cloud

We have selected some academic productions that use the this technique

  • Content analysis through word cloud of posts in virtual communities: new perspectives and preliminary results
  • A scenario of Statistical Education in Pedagogy courses
  • Use of virtual communities to support breast cancer patients
  • Application of text mining in the analysis of textual productions

How to make a word cloud

It can be done manually, but this is not the easiest way to use the feature. The recommendation is to use digital tools that identify the most frequent words in content and generate the cloud automatically.

Here are some ways to build word clouds:

Google Docs

Creating a word cloud is an easy task when you have Google Docs. The online text editor generates the set of terms from the analysis of a document in .doc format. For that, however, you must install an add-on called Word Cloud Generator.

After installation, click Add-ons, choose Word Cloud Generator and set your word cloud font style – it can be classic or modern. Then click the download button to download the cloud image.


Wordclouds is a free word cloud generator widely used in academic work to enrich the presentation of data. 

Using the tool is very simple:

  1. Click on File ;
  2. Request the creation of a new cloud in New Word Cloud ;
  3. Click on Word List and choose the way you want to insert the text that will be analyzed. The program imports internet links, PDF documents, among others; 
  4. After generating the cloud, make the necessary changes and use the shortcut Ctrl + S to save. It is possible to save the created clouds in PNG, PDF and SVG. 


Another free online application that generates word clouds that can be customized. The great advantage of the platform is that it allows you to enter data manually or import the words listed into a spreadsheet. 

  1. Click Import and select the content you want to analyze. You can also write the words manually by clicking on +Add ;
  2. Hit the red Visualize button to generate the cloud. 
  3. If you don’t like the automatically generated slideshow, use the left corner window to change colors, font and layout. 
  4. After finishing editing, click Download and choose the file format to download to the cloud.


Mentimeter is an application for creating presentations with real-time feedback. If you want to brainstorm a word cloud, this is the best option as it allows for simultaneous collaboration. 

  1. Create a New Slide;
  2. Choose the Word Cloud option ;
  3. Enter a question.
  4. Share the link with participants.
  5. As responses are recorded, the cloud content is updated in real time. 

R language

Professional statisticians use other tools to generate word clouds, as is the case with the R language. It was developed to use statistical data analysis techniques.

R has a set of tools for manipulating data, doing calculations and creating graphs.

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