Sue's strengths as a writer

They’re everywhere these days: illustrating a  newspaper article, highlighting a book’s content, offering a glimpse into a web site. Word clouds are great visual signals for what’s inside.

Make your own with Wordle, a fun toy created by Jonathan Feinberg at IBM Research. Wordle generates word clouds, either from text you’ve cut and pasted or the URL to a site with a feed, like a blog. Toss the words in the Wordle blender and it serves up a lovely graphic. Play with colour, fonts and layouts until you get what you want. Print a copy and do anything you want with it (make a transfer and put it on a T-shirt, for instance), or post it to the gallery to show others. Ones I saw in the gallery included Wordles made of speeches, names, the text in a chapter and attributes.

Here’s an idea for freelancers: Turn your testimonials (AKA your glory file) into a great visual snapshot you can hang on your wall. Copy your testimonials (you do collect them, don’t you?) into a Word document; strip out a lot of the extra words to leave the strong words of praise; add your own name in a few extra times (to make it come out larger than the other words, since size is a function of how many times the word appears). Copy and paste into the Wordle “create” space. Play around with fonts and layout until you find something pleasing. Print it out and bask in glory-at-a-glance.

Or with Valentine’s Day coming up, you might want to paste all the words that describe your sweetie — gorgeous, kind, funny, smart, etc. — with his/her name for a personal and unusual gift.

Try it out!

(Thanks to Ann Wylie‘s Writing Tips e-newsletter for pointing me to Wordle.)