Writing eBay Descriptions – the Dos and Don’ts

The purpose of an eBay item description is not only to sell the item, but also to sell yourself as a seller. eBay is an extremely crowded marketplace which means buyers may look at tens or hundreds of listings before they get to yours. The description you created will be the difference between a buyer purchasing your item, or clicking ‘back’ to continue wading through more listings.

Buyers are judging your listings on two main criteria: is this the item I want? and how trustworthy is the seller? So creating a good description means answering these two criteria. When a potential buyer first lands on your listing, they are scanning the page for indicators or red flags that this isn’t the listing for them. If they get to the point where they are reading the item description, then your listing has passed these initial checks. Now isn’t the time to lose them!

Putting time and effort into a good listing will reassure the seller that not only is this the item for them, but that you are the person to sell it to them. Below are my dos and don’t for creating a eBay item description that will sell.


Keep it short – Just because you are selling yourself and the item doesn’t mean you need to waffle. Buyers don’t want to have to read long paragraphs to extract the key facts. Less is definitely more. If you need to outline some specifics, then a bullet list is ideal for this. In general, you want to hit the following key points: what you are selling, it’s condition and how you will ship the item. That’s it!

Keep it simple – Black text on a white background (the default) with some high quality images (see below) make the best descriptions. Anything else just adds noise to an already noisy page. I would avoid the use of colours and stay away from fancy themes.

Be accurate – State clearly exactly what is included, and the condition of the items. Highlighting even the smallest blemish on an item is much better then staying quiet. It shows you are a truthful seller. Not mentioning something that is shown in the photos (or is just obvious – like normal wear and tear) will make potential buyers wonder what else you didn’t mention.

Include images – I always like to include the same, high quality images that I have uploaded to the listing inside the description itself. As well as putting large, good quality images right in front of the user, this also backs up that the photos are your own, and not stolen from somewhere else. A subtle point, but a stock image or one ‘borrowed’ from another listing will act as a red flag to buyers. To include an image in the description, you can upload them to a free image hosting website like imgur.com (there are plenty of alternatives) and within the HTML tab of the description editor link to them like this:

<img src="[link_to_the_image]" />

Be to the point – Don’t give unnecessary details. If you have listed the item in the correct category and provided the item specifics correctly then the buyer most likely knows what they are looking at. Model numbers are great, they allow buyers to seek additional information should they require. Buyers mainly want to ensure that the item is in an acceptable condition and that you are a trustworthy seller.

Link to manufacturer pages – If the manufacturer of the item has detail information about the exact item you are selling, then a link to the page on their site is a good way to provide the buyer with more information should they require it, without adding clutter to your description. You can easily add a link through eBay’s visual editor.

Re-iterate important details – As well as specifying accurate postage and dispatch times, I always like to tell the user that I will dispatch the item promptly once payment is received. This tells potential buyers that not only can you tick a box saying you will dispatch an item within a certain amount of time, but you feel it is important enough to state it explicitly. A short sentence like “I will post the item via [shipping_method] ASAP once payment is received, usually within one business day” will suffice.

Invite questions – A friendly line saying that you are happy to answer questions will show potential buyers that you are there to help should they have any concerns.


Try to shout the loudest – Use the above points to keep the description short and sweet while hitting the important points. Potential buyers have many listings to wade through, so don’t add noise to an already noisy marketplace. A concise, well thought out description will speak volumes.

Contradict listing information – Even something simple like saying “32Gb model” when you have specified 64Gb in the item specifics may jump out as a red flag for buyers. Shipping information is always an important one too. Don’t specify a one day dispatch time in the shipping details section but then say “will dispatch within a few days”. You want to get across to the buyer that you take selling seriously.

Include irrelevant information – The less text the better. If it isn’t directly relevant to the item you are selling then cut it out. Try not to cover every single base imaginable and if the item can be readily bought then don’t outline all the things that makes the product great. If good photos and a clear, concise description aren’t enough then the buyer can always contact you to ask (because you’ve invited questions… right?)

Copy and paste – Don’t paste huge chunks of text into the description. You are only watering down the important information. If you think it is important to include extra information, then consider adding a link to website where they can read more if they wish.

An Example

If I were to sell my monitor on eBay, below is the description I may create:

Samsung SyncMaster 2243BW Computer Monitor

The monitor is used, but in great working condition. There is small scratch on the back (see photo), otherwise the monitor is in mint condition with no dead pixels. Comes boxed complete with UK 3-pin power adapter and DVI cable.

You can view more product details on the manufacturers website here: http://www.samsung.com/us/support/owners/product/2243BWX

The item will be posted via DHL courier ASAP after payment is received, usually within two working days. I will package the item securely and will provide the buyer with a tracking number once dispatched.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

That’s it – short and sweet while hitting all of the important points!

Do you have any tips for writing great descriptions you would like to add? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Joe is the creator of Auction Nudge. He is originally from the UK and now living in Canada. Once a professional eBayer, he now creates online tools that empower eBay sellers.

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