Word Tree

Word trees show a pre-selected word(s) and how it is connected to other words in text-based data through a visual branching structure. Unlike word clouds, word trees visually display the connection of words in the dataset, providing some context to their use. Words that show up more frequently in combination with the pre-selected word(s) are displayed in larger font size. The visualisation allows users to choose whether they are interested in connections preceding a word or following a word. While there are many free web applications for word clouds, word tree applications are limited.


Word tree using Many Eyes

The following two examples show word trees created using Many Eyes. The text is from interview transcripts of individuals discussing their experience with homelessness.

The first displays words that follow “dignity,” whereas the second shows words that precede it. Sisters of the Road (2002)

Sisters of the Road (2002) Voices of Homelessness: a qualitative database from sisters of the road. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://www.sistersoftheroad.org/voices/.


Advice for CHOOSING this option (tips and traps)

Word trees are most useful in exploratory analysis when an evaluator would like to examine the various ways that a pre-determined word(s) was used in text. If after conducting early analysis, patterns emerge, word trees might also be used to visually display those patterns in the reporting stage.

Advice for USING this option (tips and traps)

Because of their linguistic and often text-heavy display, word trees are usually better suited for visual analysis than for reporting to external audiences.



Many Eyes: This tool allows you to choose an existing data set or upload your own, and then choose from a list of visualisations to apply to it. It can then be customised and published for others to explore.

Other ways to analyse a text

Phrase Net
Connecting key words in a text using lines to show linkages.

Word Cloud
Displaying the words in a qualitative dataset, organised by frequency of use.


Wattneberg, M. & Viegas, F. B. (2008). The word tree, an interactive visual concordance. InfoVis. http://hint.fm/papers/wordtree_final2.pdf

Updated: 8th October 2014 - 1:46pm
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A special thanks to this page's contributors
United States of America.


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