Getting Started

Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis environment. It’s designed to make it easy for you to work with your own text or collection of texts in a variety of formats, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word. You can also work with an existing collection of texts like Shakespeare (click the “Open” button on the main page to see other pre-defined collections of texts).

Creating a New Collection of Texts

The main page of Voyant Tools allows you to load new texts in a variety of ways. For instance, you can paste in the contents of a single document into the main text box, or copy-and-paste a set of URLs, one per line.

Voyant Tools Paste in Texts or URLs

Alternatively, you can upload files from your local computer in a variety of formats, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word. First click on the Upload button:

Voyant Tools Upload Button

Next, click the “Add” button to add individual files. Once you’re done adding documents, click the “Upload” button.

Voyant Tools Upload

If you have several documents to add at once, it may be easiest to first create a zip archive containing the files and then upload the one zip file.

For more information and a screencast, see Loading Texts.

Working in the Default Voyant Tools Skin

Once you open an existing collection of texts or load your own texts you will be presented with a simplified version of the default skin (the default configuration of tools). In particular, this includes three primary tools:

  • Cirrus: a word cloud that displays the highest frequency terms – the larger the term, the more frequent it is (you can hover over words to see their frequency and click on them to see additional information).
  • Summary: this provides some basic information about the text(s) in the collection, including the number of words, the length of documents, vocabulary density, and distinctive words for each document.
  • Corpus Reader: this allows you to read the text(s) in the collection – more text will appear as you scroll. You can hover over words to view their frequency and click on terms to see more information.


Clicking on terms in the environment will open up additional tools. For instance, if you click on a word in Cirrus, you’ll see the “Word Trends” tool appear and clicking on one of the dots in “Word Trends” will cause the “Keyword in Context” tool to open. The flow of information from one tool to another is a key aspect of Voyant Tools.

The skin has additional tools that don’t appear by default – they can be accessed by click on the header or on the arrows.

The additional tools are as follows:

  • Words in the Entire Corpus: this shows an ordered list of terms in all documents, including a micro-graph (sparkline) showing distribution across the corpus (when your corpus includes multiple documents).
  • Corpus: a grid that shows available metadata for documents in the collection.
  • Words in Documents: this shows frequency information for terms in each document.

Exporting Data and Tools

One of the most interesting features of Voyant Tools is the ability to bookmark and share URLs that refer to your collection of texts. Among other advantages, this allows you to work with the same texts during different sessions, without having to reload all the documents each time. You can export a link for the entire skin by clicking on the “Export” (diskette) icon in the blue bar at the top, or export a link for an individual tool by clicking on the “Export” icon in one of the tool panes.