How it works

First, you’ll need to download the free Textal App to your iPhone or iPad. Second, you'll need to make sure your device is associated with your Twitter account for Textal to work properly: in iPhone or iPad settings, choose twitter -> add account. (This is not in Textal settings). Then you'll be all set to create word clouds from Twitter searches, or post word clouds that can be identified with you. If you get an error message - "incomplete search parameter" - this means you haven't associated your Twitter account with your device.

When you provide us with text, we offer you statistics on how individual words are used. You can access these statistics through an intuitive text cloud interface, which makes for a simple and quick way to visualize and understand the underlying themes of a text.

To choose a text to analyse, you can enter the URL of a website, search Twitter from within Textal, paste in your own text, or use one of the hundred classic works of literature which come pre-loaded within the app. Provide us with a title and select your font from our options. You may also want to use a stop word list: such lists prevent the most common words in your chosen language (such as the, is, a, in English) from appearing in the analysis, or you can choose to turn the stop word list off. You can choose how large you want the text cloud to be (50, 100, 150, 200, or 250 words), and choose the colour scheme of your text cloud. When you are happy with your choices, hit “Create” (top right): you will then wait for a few seconds until Textal delivers its analysis to your iOS device.

Once your text cloud has loaded, you can use the pinch and stretch function to zoom in for a more detailed view. At the bottom of the screen you can see an overview of the text cloud: the title, how many words there are in total in your text, who created the analysis, when it was created, and the type of text it is based on (such as a book, website, or twitter search). If you close this screen, you can tap at its bottom to bring the overview back up.

In the top right you will see the “Share” button: this automatically generates a tweet containing a link to the text cloud you have created, so you can share this via social media. When you create a text cloud, there is an online version made which you can view online, and which you can share with others who do not have the app.

Now choose a word and click on it. You will see the stats of that word: how many times it appears in the text overall, how many words there are in the document, and how commonly used the word is. We provide this in “Textal Notation”, a quick way to get an overview of how important a word is in the text you are analysing. We also provide collocations, that is, the words on either side of your chosen word, to see how the word is used in context, and to give some indication of the tone of use (if you view the full list of collocates or pairs, you can hit the “Export” button, top right, to email yourself the chosen results). How much would your word score if you played it in Scrabble? We give that too, alongside a full frequency count of all the words in the document, which shows the most commonly used words ordered by how many times they appear in the text.

Its up to you to decide what to do with your analysis after this: share the text cloud via Twitter, use the statistics in reports, theses or papers; take screenshots of Textal visualizations and drop them into documents. You can also browse the most popular Textal visualizations created by others, or look at text clouds of the most popular classic literature from Project Gutenberg. We look forward to seeing how you use it!

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