Ways to Design with Words

Marti Weston
March 16, 2015

These days, multiple word cloud options are available for students to use. Designing with words is an easy way for learners to create report illustrations or create graphics with spelling or vocabulary lists.

Word design sites offer users a range of opportunities. Some create conversation bubbles, others form shapes and images, and other word cloud sites evaluate short passages taken from reading material. While word designing is not, strictly speaking, an important 21st Century digital world skill, these websites encourage kids to organize information and create content in clever and stylistic ways – activities that were not easily accomplished before web 2.0 arrived on the scene.

Many people are familiar with Wordle – the original word cloud site – that is especially clean, easy-to-use, and without advertising. Yet, as with everything else in the digital world, word cloud sites are increasing. Sites building off Wordle’s success offer various options for saving, sharing, copying, and embedding, but no one word cloud site offers everything. Most of the sites below allow users to format with colors, fonts, and typeface sizes.

Check Out These Sites

  • Tagul: You need to sign up to use this, and Tagul keeps track of the words used and images created, but it does not collect or share personal information. The site has no advertising.
  • Taxedo: Not only can you make word clouds, but also you can customize them into shapes. It’s not necessary to sign up to use the site, and it has no advertising.
  • ImageChef: No sign-up is required, but this site has advertising. ImageChef makes word clouds for all sorts of purposes – banners, cards, posters, etc. It’s a bit like the old-fashioned PrintShop program but with word clouds. These images are easily downloaded.
  • Festisite: This word cloud maker lets a user turn words or a passage into a maze, spiral, or wavy text – something different compared to the other sites. On my Mac the Festisite graphics opened automatically in Preview — ready for me to save and use. Festisite has some advertising – for me this means Google advertisements that I often see in other places.
  • WordItOut: Type in a passage and click the WordItOut button. No sign-up is required at the site, but if you want to send your word cloud via e-mail, WordItOut asks for your address. WordItOut does not use this personal information for any other purpose.
  • Wordfoto: If you use iPhones or iPads, the Wordfoto app allows a user to choose a photo, link that picture with a list or words, and create stunning word designs.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.

Written by

Marti Weston

Marti Weston is an academic technology specialist at Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC. An exciting part of her job is offering opportunities that help teachers and parents learn and understand more about the 21st Century digital lives that children take for granted.

Marti concentrates on identifying learning resources, helping students, teachers, and parents develop the skills to critically evaluate the online materials that they use, and encouraging community members to think about digital behavior as it relates to privacy, personal information, media literacy, and individual responsibility.

Read Marti’s blogs for teachers and parents at MediaTechParenting, and at Discover Your Child’s Digital World, a “class-on-a-blog” for parents.