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Revision as of 17:04, 11 December 2006 by Tantek (talk | contribs) (Reverted edit of AndyMabbett, changed back to last version by Ianloic)
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Page Summary Formats

This page describes existing formats that enable an author to publish a summary description for a page. Whether or not this is worthy of doing research (e.g. page-summary-examples, page-summary-brainstorming) for a microformat is open to debate. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to at least have a place to document existing formats.

Meta description

HTML4.01 provides meta description as an example in Appendix B: Performance, Implementation, and Design Notes of the HTML 4.01 spec. E.g.

<META name="description" content="Idyllic European vacations">

Product Support

Google search results display the value of the meta description element for a page when that page is listed in Google search results.


  • Invisible. meta description is invisible metadata on the page and therefore violates microformats principles.
  • Depends on head element. This summary format depends on the author having access to the head element which in many (most?) web authoring/ publishing scenarios the content author has no access.


Mozilla has introduced a proprietary format called "microsummary", which is used in Firefox 2.0's support for bookmarks.


  1. that microsummaries are not intended simply to deliver a summary of a page; they may be used, for example, for a "deal of the day", "last updated" date or time, a new headline, or other timely and dynamic information.
  2. a "microformat" consisting of a class="microsummary" attribute would allow a piece of content (a span including a "last updated date", for example), to be extracted from a page, by software.
  3. if multiple tags included class="microsummary", we'd need to decide whether they each represent different microsummaries or they all represent a single microsummary whose value is the concatenation of each tag's content. The former seems saner, but sometimes microsummary content is scattered around the page (f.e. an eBay auction item microsummary might contain the name of the item, the auction end date, and the current high bid, but that information appears in three separate places in the page).



Examples of discussion

Firefox extension



  • Invisible. Though different from meta description in that the link tag is used to relate to a summary at another URL - this doesn't actually markup the summary content itself. Since the content is not necessarily visible on the page itself, an author could easily change the page content without noticing or even knowing to bother to change the referenced "summary" page/ resource (except, of course, where the microsummary is automatically generated, such as by extracting the first "H2", or the content of a div or span with a specific ID, or the last-updated date). Thus this method has all the same potential flaws of typical invisible metadata publishing, which is that overtime it may rot, become out of date, unreliable and untrustworthy in general.
  • Depends on head element. This summary format may depend on the author having access to the head element which in many (most?) web authoring/ publishing scenarios the content author has no access.
  • Haven't we already solved 99% of this problem with RSS and the title element? Ianloic 17:11, 10 Dec 2006 (PST)