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inscriptis -- HTML to text conversion library, command line client and Web service

Supported python versions Maintainability Coverage Build status Documentation status PyPI version

A python based HTML to text conversion library, command line client and Web service with support for nested tables and a subset of CSS. Please take a look at the Rendering document for a demonstration of inscriptis' conversion quality.


The full documentation is built automatically and published on Read the Docs.

Table of Contents

  1. Installation
  2. Python library
  3. Standalone command line client
  4. Web service
  5. Fine tuning
  6. Changelog


At the command line:

$ pip install inscriptis

Or, if you don't have pip installed:

$ easy_install inscriptis

If you want to install from the latest sources, you can do:

$ git clone
$ cd inscriptis
$ python install

Python library

Embedding inscriptis into your code is easy, as outlined below:

import urllib.request
from inscriptis import get_text

url = ""
html = urllib.request.urlopen(url).read().decode('utf-8')

text = get_text(html)

Standalone command line client

The command line client converts HTML files or text retrieved from Web pages to the corresponding text representation.

Command line parameters

The command line client supports the following parameters:

usage: [-h] [-o OUTPUT] [-e ENCODING] [-i] [-d] [-l] [-a]
                   [--indentation INDENTATION] [-v]

Converts HTML from file or url to a clean text version

positional arguments:
  input                 Html input either from a file or an url

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -o OUTPUT, --output OUTPUT
                        Output file (default:stdout).
  -e ENCODING, --encoding ENCODING
                        Content encoding for reading and writing files
  -i, --display-image-captions
                        Display image captions (default:false).
  -d, --deduplicate-image-captions
                        Deduplicate image captions (default:false).
  -l, --display-link-targets
                        Display link targets (default:false).
  -a, --display-anchor-urls
                        Deduplicate image captions (default:false).
  --indentation INDENTATION
                        How to handle indentation (extended or strict;
                        default: extended).
  -v, --version         display version information


convert the given page to text and output the result to the screen:


convert the file to text and save the output to output.txt:

$ fhgr.html -o fhgr.txt

convert text provided via stdin and save the output to output.txt:

$ echo '<body><p>Make it so!</p>></body>' | -o output.txt

Web Service

The Flask Web Service translates HTML pages to the corresponding plain text.

Additional Requirements

  • python3-flask


Start the inscriptis Web service with the following command:

$ export FLASK_APP=""
$ python3 -m flask run


The Web services receives the HTML file in the request body and returns the corresponding text. The file's encoding needs to be specified in the Content-Type header (UTF-8 in the example below):

$ curl -X POST  -H "Content-Type: text/html; encoding=UTF8" --data-binary @test.html  http://localhost:5000/get_text

The service also supports a version call:

$ curl http://localhost:5000/version

Fine tuning

The following options are available for fine tuning inscriptis' HTML rendering:

  1. More rigorous indentation: call inscriptis.get_text() with the parameter indentation='extended' to also use indentation for tags such as <div> and <span> that do not provide indentation in their standard definition. This strategy is the default in and many other tools such as lynx. If you do not want extended indentation you can use the parameter indentation='standard' instead.

  2. Overwriting the default CSS definition: inscriptis uses CSS definitions that are maintained in inscriptis.css.CSS for rendering HTML tags. You can override these definitions (and therefore change the rendering) as outlined below:

    from lxml.html import fromstring
    from inscriptis.css_profiles import CSS_PROFILES, HtmlElement
    from inscriptis.html_properties import Display
    from inscriptis.model.config import ParserConfig
    # create a custom CSS based on the default style sheet and change the rendering of `div` and `span` elements
    css = CSS_PROFILES['strict'].copy()
    css['div'] = HtmlElement('div', display=Display.block, padding=2)
    css['span'] = HtmlElement('span', prefix=' ', suffix=' ')
    html_tree = fromstring(html)
    # create a parser using a custom css
    config = ParserConfig(css=css)
    parser = Inscriptis(html_tree, config)
    text = parser.get_text()


A full list of changes can be found in the release notes.

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