Wordle is a free online java applet for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text, by making them larger, and the wordle is therefore a sort of visual summary of the text. I was introduced to it by an example on RealClimate, where someone had used it to summarise the IPCC Extreme Weather Event report I talked about here.
Wordle is fun and is an easy way for the artistically challenged to produce interesting graphics. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and colour schemes, and you can ‘rig’ the results by deleting words from it or by pre-loading the text with multiple repetitions of the words you want featured.
More text makes your wordle a more representative overview of the subject, while less will usually give you a more dramatic-looking result.
Update, December 2020: The original wordle creation site has succumbed to the tyranny of time but spawned imitators before it did so. Look them up…