Topicmarks Summarizes Text Documents For Faster Learning

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 5, 2011
Updated • Jan 10, 2013

Would not it be great if you could get a two paragraph summary about Shakespear's Hamlet instead of having to read the whole book? The answer is no of course, but bare with me for a moment. Sometimes you do not have enough time to read all of a text document. Maybe you have a few minutes before you enter a meeting or before class and you just want quick facts, a fast synopsis or summary of the document.

That's where Topicmarks can aid you. The service is currently in beta and free, but the developers plan to add a point system later on where everyone gets a few free points they can use to create text summaries.

Topicmarks can process documents that you upload from your computer, text that you paste directly in the interface or website addresses that it then parses automatically. You need to create an account before you can access the information, but the creation is fast (you only need to enter an email address, temporary email services work).

The service sends you an email whenever it has finished processing a text that you have added to your account. During the processing it will show you how much time you can save in reading, understanding and memorizing the text. The figures appear to be a bit far of, considering that the service estimates that you can read and memorize Shakespear's Hamlet in less than 5 hours.

Topicmarks displays an overview for each processed text, that displays some of the important facts, a summary and keywords. Each of those items plus a word index are accessible via tabs in the main interface.

text summary

How reliable are the information provided by Topicmarks? That depends largely on the analyzed text. The facts and overview work best on factual texts like Wikipedia's information about Saturn. The facts and summary of the Hamlet text on the other hand were not usable at all. That does not necessarily mean that it was not useful to process the Hamlet text, considering that you get a word index and keywords that you can explore.

hamlet keywords

The index lists the most prominent words and phrases of the text. A slider at the top can be used to increase or decrease the coverage. This can be very handy to find all occurrences of Horatio, the queen or Hamlet in the play. Each entry is linked to the facts section and the full paragraph of the text.

text index

That's in my opinion the biggest strength of Topicmarks. The overview and facts are nice on their own if the service manages to get them right. But the index is useful despite that, even if the facts and summary do not make sense at all.

Topicmarks users can install a bookmarklet in their web browser to send text that they encounter on the web to the service. Text can also be imported from Evernote, or send by email to Topicmarks.

You can head over to the Topicmarks website if you would like to test the service. A similar service that is only displaying page summaries is WikiSeer Keynotes for the Firefox web browser or the web service Great Summary.

Update: Topicmarks has discontinued operations on July 15, 2012 and is no longer available. A relatively new alternative is Too Long Didn't Read.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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