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How to draw syntactic trees on the computer

There are many better ways to draw trees than by drawing lines and triangles in Word. There is a good overview of the main options on this page; below are my suggestions.

Convert square bracket notation to trees

This is probably the easiest method once you learn how to use it:

  • Professional quality trees, but a non-trivial effort is required to get started: use one of the tree-drawing packages for LaTeX, such as qtree, forest or tikz-qtree
  • Quick and relatively easy, with no software installation needed (but a bit limited): RSyntaxTree, which is inspired by the similar phpSyntaxTree (which is simple and practical but doesn't produce the best-looking trees, especially for printing)

Drawing trees using a graphical user interface

The following programs are meant specifically for this purpose:

General-purpose graph/diagram software

You might be able to create decent-looking trees using general-purpose software for creating graphs or diagrams, such as yEd. Having done this a long time ago, I can't say this is my favorite approach…

Quick freehand sketching

If you have a graphics tablet such as one of the Wacom pen tablets, you can use the following programs to quickly sketch trees:

tips/trees.txt · Last modified: 2016/06/01 13:56 by gabi