Writing Your Item Description On eBay

Posted on: 28 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A guide to writing the perfect item description when selling your items on eBay.

The words you choose to use in your auction title are incredibly important. The basic search facility on eBay (which is all that many people use) only checks titles, not descriptions, for keywords, so you have to make sure that you choose the words in your title well.

Think carefully about the words that someone searching for the item you are selling would type into the search box. You are allowed 55 characters for your title including spaces and punctuation. If you find you’ve got some spare when you’ve finished you haven’t done the job properly!

Important things to include in a title are:

  • the brand name
  • what it is
  • size
  • the word “new” if it is
  • colour
  • model
  • age

Don’t worry if your title isn’t a perfect sentence – the object is to attract buyers to your auction, not to score points in an English exam!

Here are a couple of examples of how to write a good title, starting with:

Black Monsoon ball/prom/evening dress. Size 12/40

Using several words to describe the dress will increase your chances of people finding your auction. Although “prom”, “ball” and “evening” dresses are essentially the same thing, many people will only search for one of the words and not all of them. Likewise a UK size 12 is a European size 40. Including both increases your chances of being found by both a British and a European buyer.

NEW Little Britain DVD Region 2/UK Comedy

It sounds obvious now, but many people get so caught up in describing their item that they forget to include the most important information – what it actually is. You may have chosen to list this item under the DVD section on the site, but include the phrase in the title too – that way people who search for “DVD” will find you as well.

Although the word “Comedy” at the end of this title may look out of place, you have enough characters spare to add it and by doing so you may attract people who decide to search for a “Comedy DVD”.

Providing you have the space, you could also add the name of one of the characters in the show or of the comedians who star in it. Someone who isn’t familiar with the programme might have heard of Vicky Pollard without knowing the name of the show the character is in.


Unlike the title, your description has no limit on the number of characters you can use. Don’t be mean with the length of your description. Failing to add information that seems obvious to you may result in people making assumptions about the item you are selling and either choosing not to bid because of this or bidding and then being disappointed with what they win.

Important information to include in your description:

Everything already in the title – some people skim-read titles and move on to descriptions so don’t worry about repeating yourself. Your title should contain the most important information about your product, so it bears repeating.

Why you are selling the item – obviously because you don’t want it any more. But if you have a valid reason for getting rid of something potential buyers feel happier bidding. Reasons for selling may include needing the space, having recently bought a newer model, needing the money, moving or because you have a new hobby.

The size of the item – include all the measurements you can, even if they are only approximate. Even with clothing that has a size on its tag, it is useful to add the exact dimensions of the garment.

Its condition – if something genuinely has never been used, list it as new. If it’s new and still in the original packaging include that detail. If you’ve worn it a couple of times, add that detail; don’t simply say “second hand” or “used”. Basically, give as much information as you can. Being accurate and honest is what is most important, so if something is scratched or ripped mention it – potential buyers may still want to buy it.

Its history – if it’s rare or collectable and there’s a story behind how you acquired it, include this. A good story will encourage people to trust that your goods are genuine.

Colour – you’re probably wondering why you need to include this if you have a photo. Objects look different colours in different lights, some computer screens may show a picture in a different hue, and if you spell out the colour your buyer won’t be able to come to you after they win the auction and tell you they no longer want it because it looked a different colour in the photo.

Good old-fashioned sales pitch – go crazy. Tell them how wonderful your item is, how fantastic the quality is, that you’ve never seen one before in such good condition, how much you have enjoyed owning it and how loath you’ll be to part with it. We’re all suckers for a good sales pitch!

By Clare McCann

Beginner's guide to eBayClare McCann is the author of Succeed at Speed Dating and The Beginner’s Guide To Buying And Selling On eBay, which is published by Summersdale. It is available through all good booksellers or www.summersdale.com for £4.99, or online at Amazon for £4.49.

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