Word cloud plots to summarize key terms in survey responses

We can see in Clifford Chance Crossborder 2012 [pg. 22] an example of a word cloud plot. A word cloud presents text only. The size of each word corresponds to its relative frequency. The configuration and location of the words has no meaning, but generally the largest words, the most frequent, sit toward the middle. Nor does the color scheme convey information, except that terms of the same frequency have the same color.Howes Percival Social 2018 [pg. 9] provides another example. Before you can produce a word cloud you have to do a fair amount of massaging the text, such as dropping unimportant words, lower-casing words, and (often) stemming words.

Finally, in part because word clouds in survey reports rarely appear, we created one from all the methodology descriptions we extracted from various surveys.

We also prepared a plot to show how many characters are in the various methodology descriptions.

 

Infrequent plot types: gauge, mosaic, and word cloud

Gauge charts typically show up in dashboards. We spotted a gauge chart on Berwin Leighton ArbDiversity 2016 [pg. 16]. All it really tells the reader is that 93% of the respondents believe arbitrator expertise is important. One downside of gauge charts is that they while they stress an important piece of data, they leave out quite a bit more data. Bear in mind also that a bar chart can convey the same information. And, since it takes quite a bit more code to produce this seemingly-simple gauge, a practical person would stick with the good ‘ol bar chart.

Pepper Hamilton PrivateFunds 2016 [pg. 7] offers a variant of a mosaic plot. Mosaic charts take data points, convert them into percentages and map them as a boxy bar chart. Some people describe mosaic charts as variable-width stacked column charts. The chart type goes by many other names: marimekko chart, matrix chart, stacked spinogram, spineplot, olympic or submarine chart, Mondrian diagram, or even just mekko chart. The rectangles in it completely fill the space and their volumes are proportionate. This particular specimen more resembles an area plot where the volumes of the rectangles are proportionate to their percentages, but they don’t fill the larger rectangle. As a side observation, it seems odd to tilt the label in the upper left box and odder still to drop down the 5% label.

Clifford Chance Crossborder 2012 [pg. 22] nestles a !word cloud plot in the lower right corner. A word cloud presents text only. The size of each word corresponds to its relative frequency. The configuration and location of the words has no meaning, but generally the largest words — the most frequent — sit toward the middle. Nor does the color scheme convey information. Before you can produce a word cloud you have to do a fair amount of massaging the text, such as dropping unimportant words, lower-casing words, and (often) stemming words.