Creating a word cloud in R


Step 1: Create a text file


I have created a file wordcloud.txt in documents folder. The documents folder is working directory for my RStudio.


Step 2 : Install and load the required packages

Type the R code below, to install and load the required packages:

# Install

install.packages(“tm”)  # for text mining

install.packages(“SnowballC”) # for text stemming

install.packages(“wordcloud”) # word-cloud generator

install.packages(“RColorBrewer”) # color palettes

# Load





Step 3 : Text mining

load the text

The text is loaded using Corpus() function from text mining ™ package. Corpus is a list of a document (in our case, we only have one document).

  1. We start by importing the text file created in Step 1

To import the file saved locally in your computer, type the following R code. You will be asked to choose the text file interactively.

text <- readLines(file.choose())

In the example below, I’ll load a .txt file hosted on STHDA website:

# Read the text file from internet

filePath <- “”

text <- readLines(filePath)

  1. Load the data as a corpus

Corpus: A collection of written texts, especially the entire works of a particular author or a body of writing on a particular subject.



# Load the data as a corpus

docs <- Corpus(VectorSource(text))

VectorSource() function creates a corpus of character vectors

  1. Inspect the content of the document


Text transformation

Transformation is performed using tm_map() function to replace, for example, special characters from the text.

Replacing “/”, “@” and “|” with space:

toSpace <- content_transformer(function (x , pattern ) gsub(pattern, ” “, x))

docs <- tm_map(docs, toSpace, “/”)

docs <- tm_map(docs, toSpace, “@”)

docs <- tm_map(docs, toSpace, “\\|”)

Cleaning the text

the tm_map() function is used to remove unnecessary white space, to convert the text to lower case, to remove common stopwords like ‘the’, “we”.

The information value of ‘stopwords’ is near zero due to the fact that they are so common in a language. Removing this kind of words is useful before further analyses. For ‘stopwords’, supported languages are danish, dutch, english, finnish, french, german, hungarian, italian, norwegian, portuguese, russian, spanish and swedish. Language names are case sensitive.

I’ll also show you how to make your own list of stopwords to remove from the text.

You could also remove numbers and punctuation with removeNumbers and removePunctuation arguments.

Another important preprocessing step is to make a text stemming which reduces words to their root form. In other words, this process removes suffixes from words to make it simple and to get the common origin. For example, a stemming process reduces the words “moving”, “moved” and “movement” to the root word, “move”.

Note that, text stemming require the package ‘SnowballC’.

The R code below can be used to clean your text :

# Convert the text to lower case

docs <- tm_map(docs, content_transformer(tolower))

# Remove numbers

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeNumbers)

# Remove english common stopwords

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, stopwords(“english”))

# Remove your own stop word

# specify your stopwords as a character vector

docs <- tm_map(docs, removeWords, c(“blabla1”, “blabla2”))

# Remove punctuations

docs <- tm_map(docs, removePunctuation)

# Eliminate extra white spaces

docs <- tm_map(docs, stripWhitespace)

# Text stemming

# docs <- tm_map(docs, stemDocument)

Step 4 : Build a term-document matrix

Document matrix is a table containing the frequency of the words. Column names are words and row names are documents. The function TermDocumentMatrix() from text mining package can be used as follow :

dtm <- TermDocumentMatrix(docs)

m <- as.matrix(dtm)

v <- sort(rowSums(m),decreasing=TRUE)

d <- data.frame(word = names(v),freq=v)

head(d, 10)

            word freq

will         will   17

freedom   freedom   13

ring         ring   12

day           day   11

dream       dream   11

let           let   11

every       every    9

able         able    8

one           one    8

together together    7

Step 5 : Generate the Word cloud

The importance of words can be illustrated as a word cloud as follow :


wordcloud(words = d$word, freq = d$freq, min.freq = 1,

          max.words=200, random.order=FALSE, rot.per=0.35,

          colors=brewer.pal(8, “Dark2”))