author: Sabine Bartsch [last update: 03.2023]

AntConc is a powerful concordancing software. It is developed by Laurence Anthony and made available to the community free of charge (Thank You, Laurence!). It is made available through its own website that also offers extensive documentation and video tutorials helping users to learn all aspects of the software. Please select the latest stable version for your operating system.

This tutorial refers to AntConc 3.5.9 64-bit (Windows 10).

This tutorial provides a basic quick-start introduction based on a small data sample from the NLTK_DATA.

Introduction to the graphical user interface (GUI)

This is a view of the AntConc window that you first see after starting the software:

The AntConc GUI is conveniently subdivided into several tabs organized horizontally at the top of the program window. The tabs represent the functions of AntConc and offer the user relevent views of the corpus data. Down the left of the window there is a box with the list of the Corpus Files: the user has selected for analysis. The query area is at the bottom of the program window. The vertical area on the left-hand side holds the functionality for loading your own files into the Programm.

Loading files into AntConc

AntConc principally reads files in plain text format. The most common file type used with AntConc is plain text with the extension txt. AntConc does not work with pdf or word processor files (docx, odt etc.). In order to load files into the software, click in the word Files in the upper left corner. A menu will open and offer to either “Open file(s) …” or “Open Dir”, i.e. either at least one file or a whole directory of files. For the moment, we will be working with “Open file(s) …” in order to maintain control over the files we are loading into the software.

Navigate to a directory with *.txt files and load some of them into the software. Note that AntConc standardly expects *.txt as the input file type. If you do not have any files at hand, download this zip file with the American Inaugural Speeches from the NLTK_DATA collection and unpack it to your corpus directory. Note that those of you who have installed the NLTK_DATA set during the Python course can simply use the data already on their machines.

The files ready for processing are displayed in the Corpus Files area on the left hand side of the program window to offer ready control over the files you have selected:

Corpus query and result functions

AntConc functions and views are are organized into tabs at the top of the right side of the window and subdivided into the following functions:

  • Concordance
  • Concordance Plot
  • File View
  • Clusters/N-grams
  • Collocates
  • Word List
  • Keyword List

At the bottom of the right part of the window, the query functionality is located. Type the word “nice” into the white box underneath the title Search Term and hit the Start button. The results should now appear in the Concordance tab.

What is a concordance?

A concordance offers a context view of words in a text or collection of texts. It is a philological tool with a long history. Concordances have existed long before computers became available. They were produced manually for texts deemed culturally important such as the Bible in order to allow members of the clergy to look up the different uses of words in all possible contexts in the Bible in order to enable them to determine the different potential meanings of a word or phrase. Another famous concordance of long standing is the Shakespeare concordance, a concordance of the works of William Shakespeare that likewise has existed in book form long before the age of the computer.

References & Sources

Anthony, L. (2020). AntConc (Version 3.5.9) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University.
Available from

Bird, Steven, Edward Loper and Ewan Klein (2009), Natural Language Processing with Python. O'Reilly Media Inc.

NLTK_DATA C-Span Inaugural Address Corpus. US presidential inaugural addresses 1789-2017 compiled by Kathleen Ahrens from the C-Span sources. Note that we have extended the collection with 2017-Trump and 2021-Biden.

Advanced AntConc tutorials