The Origins of Word Clouds
Word clouds began popping up in the early 1990s, but they became popular because of the web. Early blogs used word clouds as a navigation aid, displaying keywords that showed popular topics in the blog and providing easy links. The early incarnations of Flickr, for example, relied on word clouds.
While word clouds soon became overused on the web, a second use as a visualization of text data soon arose, popularized by TagCrowd and Wordle.
How to Organize Word Clouds
There are many different ways to lay out a word cloud. The words can appear in alphabetical order, or they can be sorted by prominence. Often layouts are random. Font size, color or weight can be used to display relative importance. Most effective, however, is horizontal text with alphabetical sorting. This makes the word cloud easy to scan and easy to use.
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