Software Review: Copernic Summarizer

As seen in the March/April 2002 issue of LinkUP magazine

By J.A. Hitchcock

When I first heard about Copernic Summarizer, I really had no idea what I could use it for. The company who makes it asked me to try it out, so I figured - what the heck? Downloading and installing was fast and easy. During installation, I was notified that Summarizer would be able to integrate with several programs on my computer, including Netscape Navigator (my preferred web browser), MS Internet Explorer, MS Outlook Express, MS Office XP, Eudora Pro (my e-mail program) and a few others. Cool!

After installation, the program automatically started, put an icon in my System Tray and a mini menu appeared in the lower righthand corner of my computer screen (these options can be changed). I checked out the Help files first for a quick tour of the program - I’d tried to do this on the Copernic web site, and even with a cable Internet connection, I couldn’t get the online tour to work.

It seemed pretty easy to use - I could summarize a file in formats including .doc, .txt, .rtf, .pdf, .htm, .html and .url (but not .wpd - WordPerfect, my preferred word processor) or summarize any web site, then save, print, export or copy and paste the summary into another document or e-mail message.

I tried it on a few files, trying .doc and .txt - these worked like a charm. All I did was click on the “Summarize A File” text link in the lefthand menu (or on the toolbar at the top) and a separate menu popped up. I could now browse my hard drives for the file I wanted to summarize. I decided to try a chapter I was working on for a book I’m currently writing, THE GHOSTS OF MARYLAND. This chapter included ghosts at the Annapolis Naval Academy. The word count was 680 and consisted of six paragraphs. After running Summarizer and exporting it to the same folder, I found that the summary was 194 words and quite succinct. At the top was a notation of the file that was summarized, then the concepts of the file summarized, then the summary, as follows:

	third floor, officers, house, elevator, pipe, ghosts, windows, smoke, Naval Academy, door, alone, dog, basement, Jamaicans, smoking.
	- There are some ghosts inhabiting the medical clinic at Annapolis Naval Academy.
	- This was originally built as the hospital for the midshipmen and officers at the Academy in the early 1900s.
	- He would always stand at one of the windows, open it so the smoke wouldn't bother the others, and would look outside while he smoked his pipe.
	- Another officer loved to ride in the elevator and always found an excuse to visit his fellow officers on the third floor.
	- There have been reports of the last person closing up the building and shutting off all the lights will go to the parking lot and look at the building to see a light on at the third floor near one of the windows.
	- Other times, the last person to lock up will make sure the elevator is at the first floor and locked to stay there until the morning.
	- Whoever lives in the house will hear the music, go down to the basement and find all the furniture moved back so that the middle is empty, like a dance floor.
	- Suddenly, she heard a door on the third floor opening then slamming shut, as though some angry person were doing it.
	Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

This wasn’t half bad. There were a couple of things that made it read weird, but this worked really well. I could see how this would be good to outline a report, research paper, business guidelines and more.

Next, I tried “Summarize Web Page” (you need to be online for this). One of my favorite sites is the Drudge Report, so I type the URL in the text box that popped up and the summary came back as headlines. A quick way to see what was going on in the world.

Next, I tried my personal web site at I have quite a few topics covered there in addition to my writing and the Summarizer took a while, then let me know it couldn’t summarize my site - probably because it was done in frames instead of as a straight web page format. I tried my book web site next,, got a quick and great summary and e-mailed it to myself:

	Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 174200 -0500
	From: "J.A. Hitchcock" 
	Subject: Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 
	Net Crimes & Misdemeanors http//
	Hitchcock, online, MISDEMEANORS, NET CRIMES, cyberstalking, victim, scams, Web users, Background courtesy, Pre-order, Canada, Retail, CyberAge Book, fight, aid victims.
	- Recognizing that "it's a jungle out there," cybercrime expert J.A. Hitchcock has written a reader-friendly guide that helps Web users identify, avoid, and survive online scams and predators.
	- Hitchcock details a broad range of abusive practices, shares victim experiences and anecdotes, and offers advice on how to handle junk e-mail, "flaming," privacy threats, financial scams, cyberstalking, and identity theft.
	- A CyberAge Book from Information Today, Inc. Coming in May 2002 Retail $24.95 ($37.95 Canada) ISBN 0-910965-57-9 Pre-order it today for $19.95!
	Summarized by Copernic Summarizer

Some nice features are being able to look for certain text in a summary, setting the size of the summary (the default is 25% of whatever file/web site you’re summarizing; you can set it for a higher/lower percentage or number of words up to 1,000 words), deleting text from the summary before exporting, printing or sending it to someone via e-mail, clicking on any of the words in the “Concepts” box and seeing them automatically highlighted within the summary.

This was fast becoming one of my favorite Web utilities - if I wanted to send a news story to a friend, instead of sending just the URL and link, I could send them a summary and let them choose whether to read the entire article; if I’m doing research for a book or article, I can get a summary of a web site or topic - I could see the possibilities for students, business folks, and the average Web Surfer. The only thing I had a problem with was when selecting a file on my hard drive to summarize, the program wouldn’t automatically go back to the beginning of my hard drive. It would go to the last file I’d summarized, but I couldn’t click on the “back” arrow to back up one directory like I can in Windows Explorer.

It’s price is a bit steep for some, but if you do a lot of research, especially online, then you should consider buying Copernic’s Summarizer, or download the free 30-day trial version at

Copernic Summarizer

J.A. Hitchcock,, is the author of seven books and a freelance writer, as well as president of W.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse)

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