New in 8: Word Clouds

on February 19, 2013

Another new visualization type in Tableau 8.0 is the word cloud. These are similar to bubble charts in that words are sized according to some numerical measure and all packed into a designated space. Word clouds are generally most effective when you're presenting data about--you guessed it--words.

Let's take a look at an example of word clouds using this viz, originally by Ben Jones, to compare which words were most often used at the presidential debate on Oct. 3rd of last year.

Why I made some of these changes:

  • The word cloud allows you to immediately get a feel for what all of the words were that evening, as well as which ones were the most popular.
  • This also preserves the interactivity; you can still select a word and see who said it more times.
  • I've added another story point, which is 'what were the top words said by each candidate.' The bar chart fulfills this nicely.

In general, word clouds are not very effective when you want to specifically compare when one word is larger than another. It's difficult to compare relative sizes of objects when they're not even the same shape. However, they are an option when the goal is getting a feel for the larger picture of all the possible text, as well as some numerical magnitude for the words.

Check out the rest of the New in 8 Series:

Part 1: Freeform Dashboard Design
Part 2: Floating Dashboard Content on Maps
Part 3: Treemap Bar Charts
Part 4: Bubble Charts
Part 6: Javascript API Pt. 1
Part 7: Groups, Filters and the Marks Card
Part 8: Javascript API Pt. 2


This post would be much more helpful if it explained how to create a word cloud in 8. I don't see it in the Show Me menu and it's not in the Knowledge Base. Frustrating.