Twitter uses the “river of news” format to present your timeline. The most recent tweets of your Twitter friends are at the top and these get pushed down as new tweets enter the timeline.

It’s like sitting on the bank of a river, watching the boats [in this case, tweets] go by. If you miss one, no big deal. You can even make the river flow backward by moving the scrollbar up.

As you scroll down you go back in time, to older items.

The “River of News” style of Twitter helps you quickly scan through updates but there are downsides – if you follow a large number of people on Twitter, you can sometimes miss important news in this sea of updates.

Personalized Twitter Newspapers

If you sometimes find the default format limiting, here are two nice alternatives – Twitter Times and Paper.li. They will help you read Twitter updates like an online newspaper where messages are no longer sorted by time.

Twitter Times (example) determines the most important tweets in your timeline (based on retweets) and puts them on the top. Paper.li (example) arranges tweets in categories and if there are any videos or pictures in the timeline, they are also embedded in the same newspaper page.

What’s really unique about these Twitter newspapers” is that they will automatically fetch the full text of web pages that are mentioned in the tweets of your friends so you can read them inline without leaving the “newspaper.” And they are excellent “noise filters” as well.

The downside is that they are not “instant” so there will always be a mismatch between your Twitter Timeline and your Twitter Newspaper.

For more tips, check out The Twitter Guide.