How to Get the Gist of a Web Article Without Even Reading It

Nancy Messieh 06-09-2016

In a world of ever-decreasing attention spans, skim reading has become the only way possible to keep up with an endless influx of information. Whether it’s depending on curated newsletters 4 Superb Ways to Skim the Daily News When You Are Busy In these busy times, getting your daily dose of news is like being dosed by a firehose. Free online news summarizers help. These four newsletters are among the best curated by passionate news hunters. Read More to let you know the key stories of the day or using automated summary tools Too Lazy to Skim? Get The Gist With These Top 3 Summarization Tools Ever looked at a long piece of writing and thought how convenient a quick summary would be? Felt too lazy to skim? We tested the top online summarization tools so you don't have to. Read More , you can try to keep up with all the content you’re bombarded with day in day out.


ExplainToMe is another web service that has entered the fray in an attempt to keep you abreast of all the things you need to read — and it couldn’t be simpler to use. You just enter the URL of the article you want to summarize along with the number of sentences you want to read.

ExplainToMe Automatic Web Article Summarizer Screenshot

The web app uses TextRank, a graph-based ranking model to process the text and present you with its summary. In their own words:

TextRank relies on the semantic relationships between words and phrases to decide [the] relative importance of a sentence within a document.

According to the guys behind the app, it’s similar to how search engines deliver results based on a search query.

So how does it work? If you’re expecting perfection from an automated process, think again. You will often get the basic gist of things, but if you want to skim an article with a complex narrative and a long cast of characters, ExplainToMe is not the service for you.


With less complex articles, however, we found that you could get a basic understanding of what the article was about. And if that’s all you need, ExplainToMe is a great way to keep up with your reading list. Otherwise, a read-it-later service like Pocket or Instapaper may be the better route to take.

How do you keep up with all the information you need to consume on a daily basis? Let us know in the comments.

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