A Python package & command-line tool to gather text on the Web#

Python package Python versions Code Coverage Downloads Reference DOI: 10.18653/v1/2021.acl-demo.15

Demo as GIF image


Trafilatura is a Python package and command-line tool designed to gather text on the Web. It includes discovery, extraction and text processing components. Its main applications are web crawling, downloads, scraping, and extraction of main texts, metadata and comments. It aims at staying handy and modular: no database is required, the output can be converted to various commonly used formats.

Going from raw HTML to essential parts can alleviate many problems related to text quality, first by avoiding the noise caused by recurring elements (headers, footers, links/blogroll etc.) and second by including information such as author and date in order to make sense of the data. The extractor tries to strike a balance between limiting noise (precision) and including all valid parts (recall). It also has to be robust and reasonably fast, it runs in production on millions of documents.

This tool can be useful for quantitative research in corpus linguistics, natural language processing, computational social science and beyond: it is relevant to anyone interested in data science, information extraction, text mining, and scraping-intensive use cases like search engine optimization, business analytics or information security.


  • Web crawling and text discovery:
    • Focused crawling and politeness rules

    • Support for sitemaps (TXT, XML) and feeds (ATOM, JSON, RSS)

    • URL management (blacklists, filtering and de-duplication)

  • Seamless and parallel processing, online and offline:
    • URLs, HTML files or parsed HTML trees usable as input

    • Efficient and polite processing of download queues

    • Conversion of previously downloaded files

  • Robust and efficient extraction:
    • Main text (with LXML, common patterns and generic algorithms: jusText, fork of readability-lxml)

    • Metadata (title, author, date, site name, categories and tags)

    • Formatting and structural elements: paragraphs, titles, lists, quotes, code, line breaks, in-line text formatting

    • Comments (if applicable)

  • Output formats:
    • Text (minimal formatting or Markdown)

    • CSV (with metadata, tab-separated values)

    • JSON (with metadata)

    • XML (with metadata, text formatting and page structure) and TEI-XML

  • Optional add-ons:
    • Language detection on extracted content

    • Graphical user interface (GUI)

    • Speed optimizations

Evaluation and alternatives#

For detailed results see the benchmark and evaluation script. To reproduce the tests just clone the repository, install all necessary packages and run the evaluation script with the data provided in the tests directory.

Other evaluations:#

In a nutshell#

Primary installation method is with a Python package manager: pip install trafilatura. See installation documentation.

With Python:

>>> import trafilatura
>>> downloaded = trafilatura.fetch_url('https://github.blog/2019-03-29-leader-spotlight-erin-spiceland/')
>>> trafilatura.extract(downloaded)
# outputs main content and comments as plain text ...

On the command-line:

$ trafilatura -u "https://github.blog/2019-03-29-leader-spotlight-erin-spiceland/"
# outputs main content and comments as plain text ...

For more information please refer to usage documentation and tutorials.


Trafilatura is distributed under the GNU General Public License v3.0. If you wish to redistribute this library but feel bounded by the license conditions please try interacting at arms length, multi-licensing with compatible licenses, or contacting me.

See also GPL and free software licensing: What’s in it for business?


These documentation pages also provide information on concepts behind data collection as well as practical tips on how to gather web texts (see tutorials).


Contributions are welcome! See CONTRIBUTING.md for more information. Bug reports can be filed on the dedicated page.

Many thanks to the contributors who submitted features and bugfixes!


For planned enhancements and relevant milestones see issues page.


This effort is part of methods to derive information from web documents in order to build text databases for research (chiefly linguistic analysis and natural language processing). Extracting and pre-processing web texts to the exacting standards of scientific research presents a substantial challenge for those who conduct such research. Web corpus construction involves numerous design decisions, and this software package can help facilitate text data collection and enhance corpus quality.

Reference DOI: 10.18653/v1/2021.acl-demo.15 Zenodo archive DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3460969
  title = {{Trafilatura: A Web Scraping Library and Command-Line Tool for Text Discovery and Extraction}},
  author = "Barbaresi, Adrien",
  booktitle = "Proceedings of the Joint Conference of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: System Demonstrations",
  pages = "122--131",
  publisher = "Association for Computational Linguistics",
  url = "https://aclanthology.org/2021.acl-demo.15",
  year = 2021,

You can contact me via my contact page or on GitHub.

Software ecosystem#

Software ecosystem

Trafilatura: Italian word for wire drawing.

Known uses of the software.

Corresponding posts on Bits of Language (blog).

Further documentation#

Indices and tables#