The best text-only news sites, ranked

Text-only news sites are great!

Their simple design of one long list of headlines is especially well-suited for reading news on mobile devices. There are no distracting and bandwidth-hogging photos and videos, and more importantly, there are no ads.

I used to access these news sites when I’m out someplace where internet signal is patchy and I want to check up on the news quick. But now I find myself reading them more and more even with fast internet connection and unlimited bandwidth. These text-only news sites with their simple layout are just more usable than their bloated, ad-filled counterparts.

If all news sites have a text-only version, the world would be a much better place.

So here are the ranking of the best designed and most accessible news sites that load almost instantaneously and won’t waste your bandwidth or distract you from reading the latest events.

1. NPR Text-Only Version

National Public Radio Text

National Public Radio’s Text-Only Version takes the top spot with just the right balance of color, user-friendly design and simplicity that are essential in a low-bandwidth news site.

Homepage size is a minuscule 5.87kb.

Headlines in blue are arranged in a simple list that lets you instantly browse the latest current events. At the bottom of each page, you can jump to the three sections: News, Culture and Music. A very simple yet effective design.

If there were a dark mode for night reading, the site would be perfect.

2. CNN Lite

CNN Lite

Very close second is one of the first major news sites to provide a text-only version of their website, only coming behind NPR because of my dislike for bulleted lists for headlines.

Even simpler than NPR Text, CNN Lite’s deceptively no-frills design lets you skim through all the latest headlines effortlessly.

There are no sections page at all and the 100 headlines are all listed in the homepage. Because of this, CNN Lite weighs a little bit more but still a paltry 60.53kb, smaller than a typical JPG image.

It has no dark mode for mobile devices.

3. CBC Lite

CBC Lite

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s low-bandwidth portal differs from NPR and CNN in that it offers a comprehensive coverage of news not found in the other two news sites. A cursory look at its Sections page reveals the breadth of its offerings ranging from news, to arts and sports, and everything in between.

Its articles also have a button that lets you display the optional image with a click. Totally unnecessary for the hard-core text-only website fan, but a welcome feature nonetheless for those who might want to have that option.

Its 46.41kb size is comparable to CNN Lite’s.

Simple yet intuitive design, and dark mode for reading at night is a welcome feature.

4. Christian Science Monitor Text

Christian Science Monitor Text

CSM Lite’s version is rendered in plain black, which makes a clean, spare look. Headlines are accompanied by summaries. At 34.08kb, it is even smaller than CNN Lite.

I usually like bold, black text for headlines in traditional websites. But text-only news sites–being devoid of eye-catching images–should maybe have a dash of color here and there, just to avoid being overly tedious.

CSM Text’s single-page news article avoids this by using big, bold serif font for the headline, which breaks the monotony of all-sans-serif text. Maybe it should have that same serif-sans-serif combination on the front page to improve readability.

Dark mode not available.

5. Radio-Canada Mini

Radio-Canada Mini

Radio-Canada’s low-bandwidth news site in French, with a layout and text resembling PBS Lite. It’s super-light, weighing at just 8.94kb.

It has a nice dark mode, like its Canadian sibling.

6. Post Online Lite Edition

Post Online Media Lite Edition

Post Online’s lite edition is a worthwhile effort, although the design leaves much to be desired, the unsightly horizontal bars overwhelming all the other elements.

It has a respectable size of 43.65kb.

Dark mode unavailable.

Other text-only news sites, not ranked

Mail Online Text

Mail Online Text

UK’s Mail Online halfhearted effort is completely ruined by pop-up videos, that most hated feature of the modern news site. Load size is correspondingly high at 148.24kb, which is totally unacceptable.

Not only does the video pop-up load on the homepage, it loads on all pages! What kind of perverted mind would make a text-only site and then ruin it with pop-up videos?

Maybe Mail Online wanted to make a completely different category of website: the text-and-video-only news site, for people who don’t like images but are completely okay with pop-up videos.

As such, this is not really a text-only site and it is only mentioned here as an example of how NOT to make a low-bandwidth news site.

As if it doesn’t get much worse, there is no dark mode. Avoid at all cost. Headlines from the Future

News aggregator rendered in basic HTML for vintage computers.

Rendering Google News for a Macintosh Color Classic is a cool idea, but if you have a modern PC or a mobile device, you’d be better off browsing the true news sites above than this machine-selected list of uninteresting, duplicate news.

Legible News

Legible News

Legible News’ articles are curated from Wikipedia’s current events page. The concept is laudable; the execution is not.

Legible News describes itself as “non-addictive” and “boring.” I like boring too, but not to the point of inducing slumber.

The homepage looks sparse and the actual news links to ordinary image-filled news stories. There is a paid subscription but I’m not entirely sure what benefits it would bring.

The Brutalist Report


The Brutalist Report is another news aggregator, like

Unlike, however, all it does is display the headline links that goes to ordinary image-saturated sites, which entirely defeats the purpose of a text-only news site.

PBS Lite Version

Public Broadcasting ServiceLite Version

PBS Lite Version looks like a cross between CNN Lite and CSM Text, with blue links and headlines with summaries. The whole home page, at 18.83kb, is even smaller than CSM Lite.

There is no dark mode.

PBS Lite is not an entirely news site, and what little news it has link to entirely normal image-filled webpages.

Only mentioned here as an example of a text-only design.