Wordcount is a visualization of the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.

Wordcount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage. Wordcount includes all words that occur at least twice in the BNC®. In the future, Wordcount will be modified to track word usage within any desired text, website, and eventually the entire Internet.

Wordcount was designed with a minimalist aesthetic, to let the information speak for itself. The interface is clean, basic and intuitive. The goal is for the user to feel embedded in the language, sifting through words like an archaeologist through sand, awaiting the unexpected find. Observing closely ranked words tells us a great deal about our culture. For instance, “God” is one word from “began”, two words from “start”, and six words from “war”.

Wordcount was designed and developed by Jonathan Harris while doing a fellowship at Fabrica.

Wordcount won AIGA’s 2003 Award for Information Design.

Some Wordcount games have emerged: