Using Wordle to Create Cover Sheets

When I started working on my Notebook Project, I wanted a way to make a cover sheet for each binder that represented the contents.  I first thought of making a scrapbook page, but I really wanted to do something fast and easy.  Then I thought of creating a word cloud of the names in the book.  Wordle is my favorite tool for creating word clouds, so I tried it first.  It took a few tries to get the process down pat, but now I can create a really cool cover sheet in just a few minutes.

I start by using my genealogy program to create a simple name list that only includes the given name and surname.  I select all the surnames that start with the letters included in the notebook.  Most of my notebooks cover portions of two letters – for example, it may have some Es and some Fs.  Then I export the report to a text-editing program, such as Word and delete the names at the beginning and end that are not included in the notebook.  Then I simply copy the remaining names and paste them into Wordle.

I let Wordle use its random process to decide the shape and colors.  This way every cover sheet is unique.  The only change I make is if the background comes out black; since I’m printing these, I don’t want to waste a lot of ink on a black background.  If that happens, then I just click the “Randomize” button until I get a white background.

I really like this method of creating cover sheets.  I can see – at-a-glance – the names that are included in the notebook, in a more interesting format than a simple table of contents.  The more time a name appears, the larger it is on the cover sheet.  So, for example, I know if a notebook has a very large Ellis then it has lots of Ellis family members inside, whereas a large Ellis and a slightly smaller Forrester means that there are similar amounts of each surname.  I like including the given names because I think it’s fun to see how common first names were in a certain group of people.

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Comments

  1. Deborah Andrew says

    Tonia,

    Oh my gosh what a great idea! I have been reorganizing my research into binders and was wondering what or how I wanted to make the cover page. This is great way to do that. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great blogging. I love reading your blog.

  2. Tonia Kendrick says

    Thanks for commenting, Deborah! This is super-easy. It takes about 5 minutes to do the whole process.

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