Word Clouds in PowerPoint

A “word cloud” can be used in a PowerPoint presentation to graphically present a group of concepts, markets, customer concerns, etc.

Word (“tag”) clouds are normally used to display the frequency of appearance of words in a particular document or speech – more frequently used words appear larger in the word cloud.  The frequency is assumed to reflect the importance of the term in the context of the document.

NOTE: This post is about manually creating conceptual word clouds for presentation purposes, It does not address the “computation” of a word or tag cloud.

In a presentation context, you might use this idea to dramatically illustrate the various concerns that a CIO might have about the impact of wireless on his operations:

wireless concerns

The relative size and shape of the “cloud” and the photo suggest that these concerns might be intimidating for the executive. Word clouds might also be used to represent markets, product lines, etc.

I used upper case text in this example since it seems to work better in rectangular shapes. In a looser shape, perhaps suggesting confusion, lower case can be used:

wireless concerns 2

In both cases, convention for acronyms or commercial names may overrule your choice of case; examples are “WiFi,” “BYOD” and “802.11n.”

To create the cloud, create text boxes and apply the Text Effect Transform/Warp/Square; use the handles to manipulate the text boxes. Make sure the Wrap text in shape option is unchecked. Here’s what the process looks like:


Font size tools and the Autofit options are not available for Transformed text. The Internal margin options seem to have no effect. Alignment (Left, Center, etc.) doesn’t affect the Warp/Square text; it does affect some other transforms. Most other text tools, options and effects can be used with Transformed text.

For the rectangular cloud, use the handles to resize and rotate the text boxes; use Drawing Guides to help “pack” the text into the rectangle. Avoid overlaps and extreme distortions.  Use size and color to emphasize text. Here’s what the result looks like:


Here’s the more loosely packed lower case cloud; I added a temporary oval to help with the layout:


Here’s another example using a circular shape and other kinds of transforms:


Here are some notes on this construction:

  • Set up Drawing Guides for the center of the cloud; add additional temporary circles and lines to help align the text.

round 2

  • The center text (WIRELESS) uses the Inflate transform and is centered.
  • Some of the text boxes (SECURITY) use Arch Up/Down (centered on the circle) adjusted and rotated.  This transform has a center; make sure that the center is at the intersection of the guidelines before rotating. Also make sure that the text remains “perfectly” circular (equal height and width) before rotating.
  • Some of the text boxes (e.g., DATA) use the Fade Right/Left/Up/Down transform. Add lines to help size and position these.

These transforms can be used in other ways; see this post for examples.

NOTE: A newer post applies 3d effects to word clouds. An even newer post includes animated word clouds.

As usual, if you want a free copy of the source PowerPoint file for this post, use the form below and ask for the “word cloud” file.

4 Responses to “Word Clouds in PowerPoint”

  1. 1 Melody January 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

    This really great! Easy to understand!

  2. 2 jmagnone March 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Hi, these are very good tips on how to create a word cloud directly in PowerPoint.

    I found creating tag clouds using this approach you described can make designs very easy to edit or to animate (using any of the techniques you have described earlier). On the other side, to make slides look more impressing I ended creating a PSD design in Photoshop and then embedding the picture in PowerPoint. This is an example of a word cloud with paint brush style I have created: http://slidemodel.com/templates/powerpoint-business-tag-cloud-red-paint-style/.

    – Julian

  1. 1 More Word Clouds in PowerPoint – 3d | powerpointy Trackback on April 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm
  2. 2 Storms and Swarms – Part 3: Word Swarms | powerpointy Trackback on June 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

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