This worksheet describes how to create word clouds from free text responses, by using Snap’s auto-categorisation to see which words appear most often. It uses the crocodile survey supplied with Snap to show you how to build word clouds of the words most used in the comments.


Word clouds allow you to display words or responses as a text graphic with the most common value written in the largest text. You can select how many items are displayed.

You can style your word cloud by specifying the variation in size between the different items and choose which colours are used in the word cloud. Styling the word cloud is not covered in this worksheet but is described in the online help topic Styling your word cloud.

Snap can automatically categorise open responses. Snap uses a stop list to stop common words such as “and” or “the” being included in the word cloud. You can add words to the stop list and tailor the categories.

You can decide whether to categorise literals as separate words or as complete responses.

You can create clouds from open responses or from the labels of coded responses.

Summary of steps

This worksheet shows how to create a word cloud automatically from people’s comments. It also describes how to change the number of items displayed in your word cloud and tells you how to remove words from a word cloud.

  • Step 1: Creating a word cloud from a literal question
  • Step 2: Changing the number of entries in your word cloud
  • Step 3: Tailoring your word cloud to hide unwanted words
  • Step 4: Displaying your tailored word cloud

Step 1: Creating a word cloud from a literal question

This step describes how to display people’s comments as a word cloud by using auto coding.

  1. Open the crocodile survey supplied with Snap.
  2. Click Toolbar: imagemap on the Snap toolbar to create a cloud.
  3. Enter Q8 (the Comments question) in the Analysis field.
  4. Press [Apply] to display the cloud.

    Sample word cloud

Step 2: Changing the number of entries in your word cloud

If you wish to have more items in your word cloud, change the code limit.

  1. Select the Auto Coding tab. This shows how your data will be coded. Your settings may be different, depending on the defaults in your program. Unless you have patterns applied to literals, you would normally use Words for literals and Values for everything else. If you use Values for literals, Snap will use the complete response, rather than individual words.

    Auto coding tab on results definition dialog

  2. Change the value in Limit codes to 20.
  3. Press [Apply] to see the change in your word cloud.

    Sample word cloud

Step 3: Tailoring your word cloud to hide unwanted words

Because the words are collected from all responses, there may be some words that are not helpful to have in your cloud. The example in crocodile has the word “bit” in it. You can adjust which words are displayed for an individual cloud. You do this by creating a new variable that you can edit repeatedly and analyse.

  1. Click Advanced statistics button on the main Snap toolbar to show the list of analysis variables. The dialog below shows two automatically created analysis variables, AV.Q8 and AV.Q8.a.

    Analysis variables window showing automatic coding variable

The AV part of the name tells you it is an auto category variable. The next part is the name of the variable that it comes from, and the last part makes the variable unique. The dialog shows the variables created for the two word clouds of Q8, one with 12 items and one with 20.

  1. Select the variable AV.Q8.a and click Clone button on the toolbar to make a copy of it. This is the variable used for the twenty code word cloud. (You can find out which variable was created automatically for an analysis by using the Dependents button Sources button on the Analyses window toolbar.)
  2. The new variable should open automatically.
  3. Select Choose codes choose codes. A new Include column will be displayed.
    aAutocategory variable details dialog new

  4. The first twenty items in the list will be used in a word cloud. Scroll down to the end of the visible items.
  5. In this example there are three words which have six counts each. If you remove “bit” from the list of visible items, Snap will choose one of these to replace it. If you do not want one of them to be used (for example, “quite”) clear the box next to it.
  6. Clear the highlighted box to remove “bit” from the word cloud.
  7. Click Save button to save your new variable.

Step 4: Displaying your tailored word cloud

You now need to edit your analysis to use your new variable.

  1. Open the Analysis definition for your word cloud.
  2. Change the variable used in the Analysis field to your new auto category variable (AV1 in this example).
  3. Click [Apply] to see the result. The word “bit” has been replaced.

    Sample word cloud

Displaying a multiple response variable as a word cloud

This worksheet has shown you how to display comments as a word cloud. You can also display other types of questions as word clouds. For example, it’s easy to see which type of food is most popular at the crocodile restaurant.

Sample word cloud


This worksheet has described how to create a word cloud from literal responses.

If you would like to find out more about word clouds, see the topic Word clouds in detail. This covers creating clouds from any type of variable. To find out about changing the colour and fonts of your cloud, see the topic Styling your word cloud.

There is reference material on the cloud style dialogs at Cloud style dialog.

If you would like to find out more about auto category variables see the topic; Using Auto-category variables.

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