AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Good Morning! Susan Kistler here, AEA’s Executive Director. We’ve had a number of posts talking about creating and using word clouds, primarily in terms of creating them through wordle. Word clouds take a set of text and create a cloud of the most frequent words in that text with word size within the cloud based on frequency.

Here’s an example that I made today using the AEA square logo and the text from the AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators.

Guiding Principles as Word Cloud

AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators as a Word Cloud

Rad Resource – Try Tagxedo for Customizable word clouds: I’ve turned to wordle time and again to make a word cloud, but I recently was introduced to Tagxedo and it solves a lot of the shortcomings in wordle and extends the functionality. Tagxedo is free (although a pro account is being considered on the horizon). Here are six key features of Tagxedo that make it my new go-to application for clouding:

  • You can upload your own image and wrap text around the image (or the inverse of the image).
  • You can save to multiple formats including high-resolution formats appropriate for printing as well as the standard lower resolution options good for the web.
  • You can modify the algorithm used to decide the size of words so that one word does not dominate the others in the extreme.
  • You can create your own custom color palette (and also upload your own font if you want to go all out).
  • Tagxedo incorporates word stemming (which may be turned off or on) so that similar words (such as “evaluator” and “evaluators”) are treated as one.
  • From here, you’ll just need to go play – the customizability is extensive.

Hot Tip – Uses for Word Clouds: While word clouds have limited application for data analysis, they do have many other uses, including:

  • Discussion starters among stakeholders
  • PowerPoint slides
  • Presentation and report covers & illustrations
  • Take a look at the Tagxedo slideshow “101 Ways to Use Tagxedo” – it is a bit slow to load, but loaded with great ideas

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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