Ruby Readability

Ruby Readability is a tool for extracting the primary readable content of a webpage. It is a Ruby port of arc90's readability project.


Command line:

(sudo) gem install ruby-readability


gem "ruby-readability", :require => 'readability'


require 'rubygems'
require 'readability'
require 'open-uri'

source = open('').read


You may provide options to, including:

:tags                - the base whitelist of tags to sanitize, defaults to %w[div p]
:remove_empty_nodes  - remove <p> tags that have no text content; also removes p tags that contain only images
:attributes          - whitelist of allowed attributes
:debug               - provide debugging output, defaults false
:encoding            - if the page is of a known encoding, you can specify it; if left unspecified,
                       the encoding will be guessed (only in Ruby 1.9.x).  If you wish to disable guessing,
                       supply :do_not_guess_encoding => true.
:html_headers        - in Ruby 1.9.x these will be passed to the guess_html_encoding gem
                       to aid with guessing the HTML encoding
:ignore_image_format - for use with .images.  For example: :ignore_image_format => ["gif", "png"]
:min_image_height    - set a minimum image height for .images
:min_image_width     - set a minimum image width for .images

Command Line Tool

Readability comes with a command-line tool for experimentation in bin/readability.

Usage: readability [options] URL
    -d, --debug                      Show debug output
    -i, --images                     Keep images and links
    -h, --help                       Show this message


You can get a list of images in the content area with .images. This feature requires that the mini_magick gem be installed

rbody =, :tags => %w[div p img a], :attributes => %w[src href], :remove_empty_nodes => false)

Potential Issues

If you're on a Mac and are getting segmentation faults, see the discussion at and consider updating your version of libxml2. Version 2.7.8 of libxml2, installed with brew, worked for me:

gem install nokogiri -- --with-xml2-include=/usr/local/Cellar/libxml2/2.7.8/include/libxml2 --with-xml2-lib=/usr/local/Cellar/libxml2/2.7.8/lib --with-xslt-dir=/usr/local/Cellar/libxslt/1.1.26

Or if you're using bundler and Rails 3, you can run this command to make bundler always globally build nokogiri this way

bundle config build.nokogiri -- --with-xml2-include=/usr/local/Cellar/libxml2/2.7.8/include/libxml2 --with-xml2-lib=/usr/local/Cellar/libxml2/2.7.8/lib --with-xslt-dir=/usr/local/Cellar/libxslt/1.1.26

Change Log

  • Version 0.5.1, released 3/13/2012 - The ignore_image_format option now defaults to an empty array, no longer excluding gif files by default. MiniMagic fetches are no longer attempted on local images.


This code is under the Apache License 2.0.

Ruby port by starrhorne, libc, and iterationlabs. Special thanks to fizx and marcosinger.