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  • 4 minutes read
  • Oct 10, 2020

Voyant Tools is a digital tool that is focused on text analysis. Voyant Tools is a project designed for digital humanities students and can also be used by the general public. This project was made to examine text and creates an interactive experience with that text. There are a few main tools within Voyant Tools that are the most helpful, in this case I used the cirrus, trends, reader, and context tools. The first step in using Voyant Tools is to gather the text/documents you wish to analyze and enter it in the “add text” box on the main screen.  Once you press the “reveal” button, you will be taken to the next screen that reads all of the text you entered.

The cirrus tool is found on the main voyant tools page in the upper left hand corner. This tool is a word cloud tool that shows a user the words most used in the corpus of documents you selected. A user can use the scale slider to select how many terms you wish to see and the more the term appears in the corpus the bigger the word will appear in the cloud. A user can hoover over one of the terms and see how many times the term was used in the corpus. A user can also select one of the documents to see the individual documents and the most appeared terms within that document. In the case of my example, I looked at a corpus of documents from various states that were interviews from former slaves. Some of the terms that appeared bigger in my cirrus were ‘slaves’ ‘folks’ ‘house’ ‘work’. This shows the main topics of these interviews across the entire corpus of documents. This tool is valuable in being able to get a quick snapshot of the main terms of the documents a user inserts in this digital tool. It is a visual representation of the main topics, with the ability to see how relevant a topic is in the document in relation to the other terms.

The reader tool is another great tool within Voyant Tools that show the user a variety of useful text analysis information. The reader tool allows a user to see the text they have inserted into Voyant and the ability to click on terms and gather information about those terms. A user can also click on a term from the cirrus tool and see that term highlighted in the reader tool to see where that term appears in the document. A user can hoover over any word in the reader tool and see how often that word is used as well. If a user has multiple documents they have added, for example I had several documents in my case, a user will see colored blocks at the bottom of the reader tool. Those blocks indicate the amount of words used in the entirety of the document. The wider the colored block, the more words used in that document. It is a helpful visual representation of the amount of words used in each document. A user can easily see the amount and compare to the other documents in their corpus.

The trends tools is also a helpful tool within Voyant. This tool is located on the upper right hand side of the main Voyant page after a user inserts their text. This tool is great way to see a visual representation of the text. A useful way to utilize the trends tool is to click on a word from the cirrus tool, in my example I clicked on folks (which was used over 5,000 times across the corpus) and was able to see how many times on a chart that word was used in the different documents. The chart is a nice way to see visually the comparison of the different documents and to see the different terms. A user can also switch the visual representation so the chart does not just have to be represented in a line graph format. This would be helpful for users to have as a visual representation of their text analysis to insert in their research.

Voyant tools has numerous different tools to look at text and to analyze any text a user would wish to look at. I found this tool to be helpful especially with multiple documents to look at a whole corpus.

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