Sue's strengths as a writerAt one point, word clouds were everywhere: illustrating a  newspaper article, highlighting a book’s content, offering a glimpse into a web site. And for good reason. They are great visual signals for what’s inside.

I made the one shown here with a fun toy (no longer available) created by Jonathan Feinberg at IBM Research. But there are lots of other free options: WordItOut, WordClouds and Free Word Cloud Generator.

Use one of these to generate word clouds from text you’ve cut and pasted. Play with colour, fonts and layouts until you get what you want. Download 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 word clouds 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, post to LinkedIn or use elsewhere to promote yourself.

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 and add your own name. In the original generator I used, you had to put words in a few extra times to make them come out larger than the other words, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the options. Copy and paste into the “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 or birthdays, you might want to paste all the words that describe your sweetie – kind, funny, smart, gorgeous, etc. – with their name for a personal and unusual gift.

Try it out!

(Thanks to Ann Wylie‘s Writing Tips e-newsletter for pointing me to the original generator. Post updated in January 2023.)