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How to Summarize a PDF with AI

May 1 2024

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Using AI to summarize your PDF and can’t get any useful summaries? We've got you covered! Get tips and tricks on how to tailor your questions and prompts from our guide.

Whether for studying, or professional use, AI tools provide you with ways to get through your PDF documents faster.

The ability to understand and condense large amounts of information is more valuable than ever. And that’s where Xodo’s AI PDF summarizer tool, AskPDF, can help.

From extracting key insights to generating summaries, we'll explore AskPDF and effective tips to summarize your PDF documents.

Let's start turning your lengthy PDF tasks into quick work!

How to summarize a PDF with AI

To start summarizing your PDF, follow the steps below:

1. Go to Xodo’s AskPDF tool

2. Upload your PDF.

3. Ask a question about your PDF. Or you can use one of the suggested prompts.

4. Get your summary response.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4, asking any additional questions you may have.

Summarizing PDF with AI

Now that you’ve got the basics to chat with PDF files online, it’s time for some quick pointers to get better summaries.

How to summarize PDFs effectively

Now, there is no wrong or right way to use a PDF summarizer AI tool on your PDF. However, there are more effective ways to get more robust and informative responses.

Below are a few tips on prompts, questions, and strategies to help you use AskPDF on your PDF like a pro.

1. Provide clear instructions

The most important factor when using AI summarizer tools on your PDF is to be as clear as possible. AI learns with your input and that input needs to be clear.

Outline the purpose and scope of the summary to ensure AskPDF understands what information to focus on. 

This can be anything from asking a direct question and focusing on certain sections to specifying word count and requesting short definitions. Asking to follow up questions is a great strategy, as well.

2. Specify key points

Ask questions about specific content in the PDF. Pinpointing exactly what you want AskPDF to focus on will produce more accurate and precise summaries.

Highlight the specific areas, discussion points, or topics that you want summarized. You can also try to narrow it down to things such as key findings, arguments, sections, or even data. 

3. Use keywords

Incorporate relevant keywords or phrases that are essential for understanding the content and context of your PDF document.

Doing so will give you an overview of what to expect, what concepts or areas are covered, and you can even go directly to the page where the keyword is located.

4. Ask clarifying questions

If certain sections of the PDF are unclear or require additional context, prompt AskPDF with clarifying questions to ensure a comprehensive summary.

The more you dig, the more details you uncover. Asking basic questions – who, what, where, when, why, how, for instance, is always a good rule of thumb to get the most information from your summaries.

5. Ask for context

Understanding content in your PDF (or anything, for that matter) is done through context.

Because informational content exists in tandem with the surrounding text on a page, you can use AskPDF to provide some context around basic points of information.

Try using AskPDF to extract context around key terms, concepts, or references you dig up in the PDF to enhance your understanding of them.

6. Set length expectations

Specify the desired length or word count for the summary to ensure it meets your needs. Try a prompt to either shorten or lengthen your summary.

This can come in handy if you’re creating a document based on your PDF. Think interdepartmental reports, business presentations, thesis research. Will you need a short synopsis, a detailed summary, or a general overview?

7. Combine and merge summary information

In some cases, you may find complementary sections in your PDF. Wouldn't it be convenient to get a quick summary of both sections in one shot?

Prompt AskPDF to analyze and merge information from multiple sections or pages of the PDF to create one cohesive and comprehensive summary you can use.

8. Ask for actionable insights

If your PDF is aimed at offering advice, instructions, or guidance, try requesting summaries that highlight actionable tips and insights from the content, pulling out only the tips you wish to try.

This can be especially helpful with PDFs about career development, self-help, skill building, beginner how-to guides, or even professional training manuals.

9. Use structured PDFs

Although most of these tips mainly cover strategies on how to use prompts, there’s also one thing that plays a major role: the PDF itself.

When AI summarizer scans the PDF to pull out and extract your summary, it does it automatically. This means that the quality of summary will depend on how coherent and logical the structure of the PDF is.

10. Review and check references

After receiving your summary, review it carefully. Ensure that it answers your question or use it to plan your next question.

You’ll also get references to the information cited by AskPDF, so you can easily head over to the exact section or page. Refine your summary and dig deeper for more details where needed.

Effectively summarize PDFs with Xodo’s AskPDF

Using AI to summarize PDF files gives you a quick way to digest information from dense documents. The tips above will make it even easier.

If you're a researcher skimming through academic papers, a student condensing study material, or a professional sifting through reports, AI-driven summarization tools like AskPDF become essential.

Leverage AI with Xodo and gain a deeper understanding of your PDF content today. Give Xodo a try today.

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Reena Cruz

PDF Productivity Expert

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