The four best FREE word cloud generators – 2023

Ray Poynter
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Ray Poynter

4 mins

Word clouds are a popular way of visualising text information. Most word clouds are based on showing the words that occur most often in larger fonts, and words that occur less frequently in smaller fonts. Word clouds have a long history, dating back to the now-discontinued, and beyond that to a category of visualising information called tag clouds.

In this post, I will highlight four good free word cloud generators, each dealing best with different needs and situations.

There is no single, best free word cloud generator because different people and different situations have different needs. The term Free can be slightly ambiguous. Some of the tools I will talk about are free in the sense that all of the options they offer are free. Other solutions have a free option, but they also offer a premium/paid-for option.

The two-word cloud generators I will describe first, Josh Davies and WordArt, focus on creating striking images. MonkeyLearn provides a free word cloud generator and is also a gateway to a wide range of text analytic options. The fourth word cloud generator is our own Word Cloud Plus, which focuses on linking word clouds with the finding of insights.

Josh Davies
If you are looking for a replacement for the long-lost, then word clouds from Josh Davies offer a good alternative. The site is free to use and is supported by ads. It is a very basic option, but it provides a range of choices in terms of colours, angles, and the number of words to display. One of the limitations of Josh Davies’ word clouds is that they treat every word as a separate entity. For example, “Big Data” will be treated as two words, “Big” and “Data”. However, this is true of most word cloud generators

The word cloud below is generated from a test set of data, based on open-ended responses to a question about what makes a good presenter.

Word Art
The focus of Word Art is the visual impact of its word clouds. Options include the ability to remove common words (i.e. stop words), remove numbers, and to use stemming.

The key feature of Word Art is that it allows you to specify an image to contain your word cloud – as in the example below. The word cloud is based on the same test data used in the Josh Davies example, i.e. statements that people have used to describe what makes a good presentation.

Word Art is free to use, but if you want to download a high-quality image you will need to pay a small fee (but the standard download seems pretty good to me). Word Art has another monetisation route, it sells things like mugs and t-shirts with your word cloud on them.

MonkeyLearn provides a free word cloud generator that is capable of working with word combinations, rather than just working with single words. However, MonkeyLearn is much more than just a word cloud generator, it links to a wide range of text analytics options, which are paid for. MonkeyLean has a range of formatting options, for example, themes, colours and fonts. The paid version includes sentiment analysis and a keyword extractor.

The cloud below is produced from a smaller set of test data based on mentions of popular soft drinks.

Word Cloud Plus
Word Cloud Plus creates word clouds for free with a wide range of options to help users find insights in their text. For example, Word Cloud Plus allows the user to focus on single words or on phrases, to manually format words, to manually re-arrange words and phrases, and to drill down into the phrases that underpin the words and phrases in the cloud.

Whilst the free version is fully featured, there is also a paid-for version with some extras.

The word cloud below was created from the same ‘What makes a good presenter?’ used in the first two examples.

Word Cloud - from Word Cloud Plus

Do you know of other good word cloud generators?
When we were creating Word Cloud Plus we did a pretty thorough check of the market and felt that Josh Davies, Word Art, and MonkeyLearn were the best of the options that existed at that time. We then designed Word Cloud Plus to meet unmet needs.

However, we might have missed some other word cloud generators, or new ones might have been written since we did our review. So, if you know of other good word cloud generators (ideally free ones), please email us.