Getting Started with Voyant Tools

As its name announces, the Voyant site actually hosts a suite of tools for analyzing texts. These tools can be applied both to study single texts and to compare multiple texts.

This short video (2 min 4 secs) explains how to get texts into Voyant and introduces what is likely its most popular function, Cirrus, which generates word clouds of the terms appearing most frequently in the texts.

This follow-up video (2 min 48 secs) offers an overview of the diverse views of texts featured in four other sections of the Voyant Tools site.

Entering a Text into Voyant

There are three ways of entering in texts for Voyant to analyze.

  1. If the text appears in a webpage, its URL can be pasted into Voyant site window
  2. If the text is digital, a copy of the entire text can be pasted into Voyant site window
  3. Pressing the UPLOAD button, and selecting a PDF file on your computer. (Be aware, however, that Voyant cannot read all PDF files.) The OPEN button leads only to the collected works of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so unless your research includes these authors, you can ignore it.

Entering a New Text into Voyant

Once you have finished analyzing one text (or set of texts), you can return to the Voyant homepage and enter a new text by hovering the cursor over the blue bar at the top of the page, and clicking on the Home icon at the upper right-hand corner.

Stopwords

Sometimes, there may be words that appear frequently in a text, but which are of little interest to one’s project. Voyant already includes a default list of the most common of such words as “and” and “of,” and will ignore them its word clouds and tabulations of word frequencies. These ignored words are known as Stopwords. Voyant allows, more importantly, the user to edit the Stopword list and thus customize the terms that are picked up. This video (1 min 26 secs) explains how to do this. This page provides more information on creating and saving Stopword lists.

As you’ll quickly realize, despite the simplicity of its basic uses, Voyant Tools actually offers a remarkable range of ways to analyze texts. Detailed explanations of all its functions can be found here.

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