Simplifying Text

There are not many tools available to help reduce the complexity level of text, in terms of the vocabulary or the grammatical structure. Those that do, often make the situation worse, by substituting synonyms that do not make sense in the context.

With Rewordify, you can input text directly or enter the URL of a webpage for it to be simplified. An example below of the original text on the left and the simplified text on the right. Words simplified have been highlighted in yellow and if the mouse is hovered over them, it will reveal the original word. There are errors – about halfway through the paragraph the word “mentions” is used as a noun, but the Rewordifiy translation gives a synonym based on its use as a verb.

However, a nice feature is that if you use the webpage URL, it will retain the appearance of the original webpage.

A paragraph of text with a heading of who were the vikings
A paragraph of text with a heading of who were the vikings.  Some of the words are highlighted in yellow.

Another online tool, Simplish arguably makes the text more complex from where it started:

Screen shot of Simplish app.  Contains two paragraphs of text.  One paragraph is the input text and the other is the simplified version.

Another option to explore is Outwrite

Picture Support

Rather than trying to reduce the level of complexity of the language used, another option might be to look at picture support for words. One easy way of doing this is to use the Office 365 versions of Word or OneNote, or the app versions if working on an iPad.

Copy and paste your text into the document. Go to view on the ribbon, and choose Immersive Reader. On the top right, under Reading Preference (book icon), toggle Picture Dictionary on.

Unfortunately, it does not have pictures for every word i.e. taking the paragraph above, it does not have a picture for “conceptions” but it does for “popular”. Immersive Reader can also read aloud the whole text or just specific words.

Immersive Reader screenshot of a paragraph of text with symbol support

Summary Tools

Summary tools tend to have a similar issue to Text Simplification tools, in that they may not be as precise as required. They aim to summarise a text document to a specific number of words or sentences, with the idea of capturing key points, using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. However, the reality is not as clear cut. Some will take the first sentence of each paragraph; others will look for repeated words. The output can vary in relation to quality and relevance.

TLDRThis  – This appears to be one of the better options, also available as a Chrome extension. (TLDR: acronym meaning Too Long Didn’t Read)

Textcompactor: a free online text summary site where you enter the text you wish to be summarized.

Smmry: Similar to Textcompactor.

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