Copernic Summarizer v2.0

Reviewed by: Stuart Craine, send e-mail
Published by: Copernic Technologies Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95/98/Me/NT4/2000/XP; Netscape 3 (or a later version), Internet Explorer 3 (or a later version) or a compatible browser; 486DX 66 MHz or higher; 15MB RAM; 10 MB of free disk space
MSRP: $59.95

In our technological age, with it’s ever growing advances in quick mass communication, information overload has become a large problem - a bane to all computer users, from the student seeking information for an essay, to the professional analyzing or cataloguing information. Part of the problem is the excess of words used to weave all the relevant facts together. This becomes a real annoyance when relevant facts are sparingly spread throughout a rambling document. Copernic Summarizer goes very far in solving these problems by creating a condensed version of the original text.

Copernic Summarizer extracts key concepts and relevant sentences, creating a summary of concise paragraphs. It also displays a list of pertinent words. The program allows you to create summaries of different lengths and add or delete from the list pertinent words. I found that a summary length of 50% was best, as any shorter summary, especially in large documents, can result in missed relevant information and facts.

Copernic Summarizer can analyze a text of any length in English, French, German and Spanish. It summarizes Word documents; Web pages viewed with Internet Explorer, PDF files, Outlook Express e-mail and text from the Windows Clipboard. It is possible to summarize various file formats (.doc, .txt, .rtf, .pdf, .htm, .html and .url) without opening them. Also, the feature Summarize a Web page allows the possibility of summarizing a Web Page from a URL address without opening it first.

The installation of Summarizer places a button on the toolbar in compatible Microsoft applications such as Internet Explorer and Word. Choosing the appropriate menu item results in a summary consisting of a list of pertinent words and sentences extracted from the document, file or page.

I am very impressed with this program. As a freelance journalist, I have a glut of newsletters, documents, reports and news items to digest daily, in addition to my own research. In most cases I found the Summarizer did a very adequate job of extracting the pertinent information. The few cases of poor summaries were easily rectified. In cases of over-editing, I corrected the situation by adding to the list of pertinent words to re-summarize the article. In cases of under-editing, I corrected the situation by either removing irrelevant words from the list and re-summarizing, or simply deleting irrelevant paragraphs from the summary. The summary can be printed or saved as an HTML, XML, Rich Text (RTF) or Text file. The summary can also be e-mailed directly from the program.

The Copernic Live Summarizer is another very useful feature. It appears as a pane on the toolbar. When activated as you browse the Internet, it displays a real time summary of the Web page that is open. I found that the feature generally managed to get the substance of the Web pages after I got past the home page.

Whether or not this program will save time, especially if too much effort is required to fine-tune the settings, depends on individual users and their reading skills. However, I believe Copernic Summarizer has two big positive factors. First, there is no doubt that it is an energy saving device for most individuals involved with any amount of summarizing and indexing of documents or information. The ability to save summaries in various formats and print or e-mail directly from the program is very useful. Second, it helps eliminate the problem of waning focus and concentration - missing important, relevant information as a result - something which happens all too often when reading large documents.

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