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Visualizing Data with Voyant

Created by Zach Francis
Maintained by LEADR under the direction of Alice Lynn McMichael

Last Updated: 2/26/2020


Text analysis is a high-level skill used by many humanities scholars to systematically analyze large amounts of textual data. Voyant is an open-source tool that attempts to make this skill more accessible. Upload your files to Voyant, and it will create a variety of data visualizations based on all the terms within your Corpus. These visualizations are nothing without your interpretation, however. Use them to explore your data and construct your own compelling interpretations.

This guide provides only the basics of using Voyant, and it assumes that you will be using TAGS data. For a more in-depth look at Voyant and its other uses, check out its documentation (see resources section below).

Getting your Data into Voyant

Anybody can upload data into Voyant, but there is an art to making sure that your data is useful for analysis and interpretation. As stated earlier, this handout assumes you will be using TAGS data but you may use any digital, textual data (including Google Forms).

Cleaning your TAGS Data

After running TAGS, you should have a lot of data (tweets) in an Excel or .csv file. There will be a lot of useful information in the form of text in this file, but not all of it needs to be analyzed. For example, does knowing Twitter user IDs answer any of the questions for your research? Instead of having Voyant analyze background noise like this, it is easier to extract and format data beforehand. Here are some tips for cleaning your data:

Creating a Corpus

Once your data is cleaned and put into new files, you may create a “Corpus” by uploading your files into Voyant. A Corpus is the collection of files that Voyant data visualizations are based on.

  1. Go to the Voyant website.
  2. Upload your files into Voyant
    • You may either copy and paste your text into voyant or upload files with text.
    • To upload your TAGS data press the Upload button and select your file(s)
    • c. Once your file(s) have been uploaded, click the Reveal button. Voyant will produce multiple “Panels” with each containing a data visualization of your Corpus.

Visualizing Data

An example TAGS dataset was made to serve as an example for how you might start analyzing your own data. This dataset looks at tweets sent to Donald Trump using the phrase “proud boys”. The content of tweets was separated into 8 hour increments from October 1st to October 4th (2020). This generated 11 excel files, each corresponding 8 hour increments of tweets, which were then uploaded to Voyant.


Despite cleaning the data beforehand so that our files only contained the user-entered content of tweets, there are still words that eclipse the text we are actually interested in. This Cirrus (a word cloud visualizing the frequency of words) pictured below gives us an idea of which words are doing the overshadowing in our dataset.

Using this visualization from Voyant, it was decided that the following words needed to be removed: “realdonaldtrump” (who the tweets were sent to); “proud” (one of the search terms); “boys” (the other search term); “https” (part of a link); “rt”; “trump”; “”; “don’t”; and “donald”. To stop Voyant from analyzing unhelpful terms like this, you can use the Stopwords list:

Visualizing Data

This handout will not go into all the numerous types of data visualization and analysis tools that Voyant provides. Voyant provides its own extensive documentation which we heavily encourage you to refer to when exploring specific tools. Instead we will go over the more general skills of selecting different tools (aka data visualizations) in panels and selecting terms to be analyzed.

Selecting a tool

  1. Go to the top-right corner of a panel that you want to select a new tool for and hover over the “?”. This will make some options appear.
  2. Select the icon for “Click to Choose another tool in this panel location (this will replace the current tool)”.
  3. A menu for potential tools will appear. Select any tool to begin exploring your data!

Selecting Terms

You will want to change the terms that are used in Voyant’s data visualization to explore the relationships between different terms in your data. To adjust what terms Voyant analyzes from moment to moment, there are a couple of options on a global and local scale:

Exporting Data

After doing all this work, you will undoubtedly want to save your work by exporting your results. You may either export your entire Corpus or a particular data visualization in a Panel.

Exporting a Corpus

Exporting your Corpus will save the entire Voyant workspace for your dataset

  1. Hover over the “?” at the very top-right of the page in the blue bar.
  2. Select the export icon.
  3. c. The option for “a URL for this view (tools and data)” will already be selected. Click Export to create a URL for your Voyant workspace. (Save this URL to come back to later).

Exporting a Panel

You may also export a particular data visualization as a PNG. This can then be incorporated into reports, presentations, etc.

  1. Hover over the “?” at the very top-right of the panel of the tool you want to export.
  2. Select the export icon and open up the Export pop-up. - There are a number of options for exporting a data visualisation, but the easiest option is probably exporting it as a PNG.
  3. Open up the Export Visualization option
  4. Check the circle for the “Export a PNG image of this Visualization”
  5. Click Export - This will bring up the Export PNG pop-up, where you will have to right click the image and save it to your computer.



By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to create a Corpus from your TAGS dataset and be able to edit, explore and analyze your Voyant data visualizations. You should also be aware of the extensive documentation that Voyant has to offer. And lastly, you should be able to export your results for use outside of Voyant.

Voyant provides an amazing and versatile tool for creating data visualizations from textual data. It is important, however, not to think of these data visualizations as the end-all, be-all answers to your questions. It is more useful to think of Voyant as an exploration tool for constructing your own compelling interpretations.

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