Using Wordle to Create Cover Sheets

by Tonia Kendrick on August 8, 2010 in And More

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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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah Andrew August 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

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.

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Tonia Kendrick August 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

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

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Linda McCauley August 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

Clever idea!

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Michelle Goodrum August 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm

What a fabulously creative idea. Makes you look like a real pro!
Michelle Goodrum´s last blog post ..Sorting Saturday – The Archival Closet

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Joan Hill August 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Great idea! Looks Great! Thanks for sharing!

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M. Diane Rogers August 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm

What a good idea! Looks great and the design is really very useful. I usually use a family photo for binder covers and title pages, but I’ll be trying this too. Thanks!
M. Diane Rogers´s last blog post ..BC Genealogical Society – Free Library Week – Surrey BC

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Jenna August 8, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Very, very clever of you! I like it!! :)

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