Turn Any Article Into Cliff Notes With One Click

Turn Any Article Into Cliff Notes With One Click

Read more in less time with a media summary tool that transforms text into bullet points like a digital research assistant.

Libby Garrett
  • 10 january 2013

Overwhelmed in a world where there’s too much to read, too much to watch and too much to listen to, curation is often discussed as this era’s crucial strategy to sort out information “noise” from content that really matters.  A second (and complimentary) strategy is to improve tools and systems that extract key points from media we might want to review.

Relying on algorithms to deliver a quality summary service, Clipped is a productivity tool that turns online articles and documents into bullet point overviews.  Available as a Chrome plugin, iOS or Android application and browser-independent bookmarklet, Clipped’s algorithm analyzes sentence structures in text-based material to generate key point summaries.

When you’re in need of “Cliff Notes” for an article or topic, there are three ways to experience a bullet point Clipped summary:

  1. While viewing an article or document online via Chrome, one click on the plug-in icon produces a two- to three-point summary of the material onscreen.
  2. When desiring a synopsis of a news event or topic, key words entered in the bookmarklet or smartphone app search bar produces headlines and summaries of related aggregated news.
  3. When curious about what is going on, in general, the smartphone app connects with your Facebook or Twitter account to provide bullet points of news stories selected to match your social media behavior, combining content discovery with optimized content consumption.

Clipped’s founder and CEO, Tanay Tandon, uses the service, himself, to review debate cases faster, assessing the focus of 100s of articles before deciding which ones he actually wants to read.  Turning sixteen later this month, Tandon is a sophomore at California’s Cupertino High School, as well as a recent graduate of the Mountain View, California TeensinTech program.

Similar in spirit to the Summly iOS application, which uses an algorithm to aggregate news topics into 400-character abstracts, Clipped is designed to help people get the general gist of an article or news topic, particularly while on-the-go.  Like the Summly app, Clipped helps people review more content in less time, perform a surface level evaluation of relevancy and makes reading on mobile phones more user friendly.

In terms of Clipped’s front-end experience, the tool has a number of design pluses. After clicking on the Chrome plug-in icon, for example, a clean pop-up window appears that neatly summarizes content on the screen in two or three bullets.  The design is straightforward, easy-to-read and allows for scrolling through the original article without having to close down the pop-up summary.

The iOS app is similarly clean in design, easy-to-read, well structured and pleasant to browse.


Clipped’s iOS application is clean in design, easy-to-read and pleasant to browse.

Evaluating the backend technology, summaries provided by the search tool are clearly written and informative, but the summaries of online articles provided by the Chrome plug-in icon leave a lot to be desired.  Text is riddled with unreadable characters and the bullet point summaries repeatedly miss the main point of the articles reviewed.


Text is riddled with unreadable characters. The bullet point summaries neglect to address the main point of the article.


Once again, the text is cluttered with unreadable characters and bullet points do not address essential elements of the article.

In an interview with Fast Company, Tandon addresses Clipped’s accuracy complaints:

The news version of the algorithm is targeted to news articles about a page or two in length. It’s targeted for things that, rather than give opinions, have lots of facts and information. But in the case of opinion articles, I’m a working a bit on that.

Helping people review more content in less time and optimizing reading on mobile devices are two powerful propositions.  The ongoing refinement of services like Clipped are certainly a trend to watch, or even be a part of.  Clipped recently released Clipped API 1.0 in an effort to integrate its summarization technology into applications and, ultimately, improve upon its services.

Currently patent pending, supporting partners include Softlayer, TeensinTech and Appcelerator.




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