Explaining RSS feeds and how to use them

Lynn Wright / 31 May 2016

Using RSS technology, you can see the latest news posts, updates and new content added to a website such as Saga Magazine.

RSS is an easy-to-use way to subscribe to your favourite websites, without having to visit the website itself…

What is RSS?

RSS is shorthand for Really Simple Syndication, although some people refer to RSS as a Rich Site Summary. It’s a technology available using dedicated RSS newsreaders that provides an updated summary of the latest additions to a website. When a website such as Saga Magazine publishes a new article, it is added to the site’s RSS feed. If you subscribe to that feed – and subscription is free – you’ll get an updated summary of all the new articles added to the site.

A RSS feed gets straight to the basics – it typically shows just the headlines, and in some cases just the main text and images.

How do I use RSS?

Using RSS is easy. The best way is to use a dedicated RSS reader, known as an RSS aggregator. This will scour the websites you instruct it to, and present a list of all the new articles added to those sites. If you want to see the original story, you simply click in the link in the RSS reader to visit the article on that website. 

Popular RSS readers include Feedly and NewsBlur. There are lots of extensions to web browsers that also add RSS support. If you’re using Google Chrome, try RSS Feed Reader while Microsoft Internet Explorer can add RSS feeds by clicking the Favourites button, then selecting the Feeds tab.

Most RSS feeds give you an option of adding your favourite sites. Simply type in the web address of the site you want to add – such as saga.co.uk/magazine – and you’ll subscribe to the site’s RSS feed. Clicking on the site name within the RSS reader will show a list of the latest headlines. Click a headline to visit the website and read the article.

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Why should I use RSS?

If you visit lots of websites to check if anything new has been added, then you'll find RSS a wonderful tool. Assuming the websites have an RSS feed, you’ll be able to see all the latest stories without having to visit each site or click through to all the pages. This can save time and data usage, as you’ll be able to pick and choose the stories you want to see.

RSS feeds also give you a quick but detailed overview of news and articles that you’re interested in. Without the clutter, it’s easy to add lots of websites and get a single view of all the latest articles, keeping you up to date.

The newest RSS aggregators have great interfaces and search capabilities, allowing you to quickly search for articles across websites you subscribe to and find information quickly.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.