Explore Themes Within a Text


This is a recipe for identifying simple themes within a text by generating word lists, identifying synonyms and antonyms for words of interest, and exploring the final word list as they appear in Context via Concordance and Collocation tools.


  1. Take an electronic text which is rich in known themes or obtain an appopriate text from a source such as Project Gutenberg;
  2. Generate a list of words related to the theme you are interest in using a tool such as WordNet;
  3. Determine the Sense(s) of the words that are related to that theme;
  4. Use those words to Build a word list with synonyms, antonyms, and cognates using a tool such as WordNet;
  5. Create a Concordance for your word list using Voyant Document KWICs;
  6. Explore different usages of the same word using Voyant Links to determine usage patterns;
  7. Repeat the above step for all words in the list.
  • The Sense of a Word

A word’s sense is the way in which it is used within the Context of the text. Word Sense Disambiguation is the process through which the various senses of a word are considered within the Context of its specific usage. A service such as the WORDdetail Synonym and Antonym Finder provides a list of senses in which a word can be used.

  • WordNet Service

WordNet is one of many web services available which will provide word senses, synonyms, antonyms and other related words for terms that you enter. For more information see WordNet or the WORDdetail Synonym and Antonym Finder.

Next steps / further information 

Further approaches

  • Find words that avoid the theme
  • Cluster analysis on themes
  • Distribution of theme
  • Comparison

Further information