How to Make a Tree Diagram Online
By Brad Conway
Tree diagrams, or sentence trees, are visual representations of the individual phrases and words contained within a sentence. Linguists use sentence trees to display the relationship between words in a sentence. Drawing sentence trees by hand can be time consuming. However, you can use online programs to help display a sentence tree and then save the tree as an image for later use. Before drafting your sentence tree online, you must be able to draw one by hand.
Write a sentence for which you want to draw a tree diagram. The sentence can be as simple or complex as you desire. Just make sure it is a sentence that you can diagram comfortably. Online tree diagramming programs will not separate a sentence into branches. You have to be able to create the branches yourself and then enter them into the program so that it will plot the sentence tree for you.
Branch the sentence into its phrases and then individual words. You may wish to draw out the sentence tree on a separate sheet of paper to provide a visual for how you will enter the phrases and their parts into the online program. Label each phrase with its appropriate designation: "S" for sentence, "NP" for noun phrases, "VP" for verb phrases, "CP" for clausal phrases and "PP" for prepositional phrases.
Open your Internet browser. In the address bar, enter "http://ironcreek.net/phpsyntaxtree". Click "go" or hit "enter" on your keyboard to proceed to the site. This program works best on either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, but can work on other browsers as well.
Enter your sentence into the "Phrase" box. Each phrase must be contained within brackets and the phrase's individual words must be in brackets. Use the phrasal notation provided within the "Phrase" box to help determine how you will enter the phrases from your sentence.
Open a bracket to create a branch on your sentence tree. Type the branch label first, hit "space" and type the actual word. For example, [N noun] would have "N" as the branch label and "noun" as the word that appears under the branch. The bottom of the "Phrase" box will display the amount of open and closed brackets you have. Make sure that you open a new pair of brackets for every phrase and word and then close each bracket when you are finished. The number of open and closed brackets should be the same.
Click the "draw" button to draw your tree diagram. If you want to use the tree diagram you just created, click on it to save it as an image. Follow your browser's normal procedures for downloading images to save your tree diagram. You may change the font style, size or color by changing the preferences at the top of the screen. You may also edit your tree diagram by making any changes in the "Phrase" box and then hitting "Draw".
- Iron Creek Software: PHP Sentence Tree
- "English Grammar"; Anita Barry; 2002.
Brad Conway began writing professionally in 2007, when he published an online column for the "New York Times Magazine." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University and a Master of Education in secondary education. Conway currently teaches high school and college English.