How to use the Summary to Drive your Analysis with Word Cloud Plus

Ray Poynter
Profile image of Ray Poynter

Ray Poynter

3 mins

Word Cloud Plus offers several routes for analysing your text, and in this post, I am going to describe using the Summary page to drive the analysis. (If you want to follow along, create a free account at Word Cloud Plus.)

For this example, I am going to use the open-ended responses to a survey asking, “What makes a great presenter?”
Often, I will start with a word cloud, like the one shown below.

A word cloud generated using Word Cloud Plus of our "What makes a great presenter" dataset.

However, in this example, I am going to start with the Summary view. At the top of the Summary page, there are some basic statistics about the text, shown in the screengrab below.

A screenshot of the summary stats from Word Cloud Plus.

The summary shows that there are 241 items comprising 5,630 words, of which 1,566 are unique. This means the average word appears just over three times in the text file.
Below these statistics, the phrases in the text are displayed, as shown in the image below.

A screenshot of the summary table from Word Cloud Plus.

In this instance, the phrases are sorted by their score (which favours multi-word phrases and penalises single words that appear in multi-word phrases).
We notice that Voice and Voice Modulation appear near the top of the list (there are 1006 phrases in the full list). We can explore further by typing “voice” in the filter box, and clicking on ‘Score’ to sort them by score.

The summary table from Word Cloud Plus filtered using the term "voice".

This view of the data highlights some of the nuances of how the concept of ‘Voice’ is being used by the participants in the study.
To dive a bit further into the data, click ‘Examine’, to the right of “Voice”. In the dialogue box, select ‘Reference’, to display the table shown below.

A screenshot of the References tab when examining the phrase "voice".

The References tab shows how the word voice appears in the original text. The view gives us a strong reminder that in a presentation, voice is key. This is important as people often worry much more about the visuals than they do about the way they use their voice.
To look at another example, go back to the Summary view and sort the summary by Occurrences. Sorting by Occurrence gives another perspective of the data.

Another screenshot of the Summary table, this time sorted by Occurrences.

The term “audience” occurs 67 times in the data, which makes it worth further investigation. Clicking on ‘Examine’ and viewing the ‘Reference’ tab shows the different ways that people talked about “audience”.

A screenshot of the References tab when examining the phrase "audience".

Reading these excerpts shows that the comments about the audience tend to divide into two groups. The first group relate to understanding the audience, taking them into account, and tailoring things to the audience. The second group relates to engagement, which suggests that the concept of engagement is worth further attention.
There are lots of similar words that use the root of engage. To get a view of the wide use of words relating to engaging, type “engag” in the filter box of the ‘Summary’ page, to get the table below.

A screenshot of the summary table, this time filted by the term "engag".

Click on the ‘Examine’ link next to “Engaging” to see the references using this term.

A screenshot of the References tab while examining the term "engaging".

This process of looking at the overview and then following a thread into the detail known as the hermeneutic circle, allows you to build a comprehension of the messages in the data that is both top-down and bottom-up.
Now, when you view the word cloud, you can see why the phrases you have explored are shown on the cloud and get ideas for other lines of investigation.

The initial word cloud generated by Word Cloud Plus, shown again.

Want to try Word Cloud Plus? You can try Word Cloud Plus, just click here and set up your own account.