How to Create the Perfect eBay Item Title

After you figure out what category you want to list in, eBay wants to get down to the nitty-gritty — what the heck to call that thing you're trying to sell.

Think of your item title as a great newspaper headline. The most valuable real estate on eBay is the 80-character title of your item. The majority of buyers do title searches, and that's where your item must come up to be sold!

Give the most essential information right away in the form of keywords to grab the eye of the reader who's just browsing. Be clear and informative enough to get noticed by eBay's search engine.

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Here are some ideas to help you write your item title:

  • Use the most common name for the item.

  • If the item is rare, vintage, or hard to find, mention that.

  • State the item's condition and whether it's new or old.

  • Include the item's special qualities, such as its style, model, or edition.

  • Avoid fancy punctuation or unusual characters, such as $, multiple hyphens, and L@@K, because they just clutter up the title — and buyers don't search for them.

Look for a phrase that pays

Here's a crash course in eBay lingo that can help bring you up to speed on attracting buyers to your item. The following words are used frequently in eBay listings, and they can do wonders to jump-start your title:

  • Mint

  • One of a kind (or OOAK)

  • Vintage

  • Collectible

  • Rare

  • Unique

  • Primitive

  • Well-loved

There's a whole science (called grading) to figuring out the value of a collectible. You're ahead of the game if you have a pretty good idea of what most eBay members mean. Do your homework before you assign a grade to your item.

eBay lingo at a glance

Common grading terms and the phrases in the preceding section aren't the only marketing standards you have at your eBay disposal. As eBay has grown, so has the lingo that members use as shortcuts to describe their merchandise.

A Quick List of eBay Abbreviations
eBay Code What It Abbreviates What It Means
MIB Mint in Box The item is in the original box, in great shape, and just the way you'd expect to find it in a store.
MOC Mint on Card The item is mounted on its original display card, attached with the original fastenings, in store-new condition.
NRFB Never Removed from Box Just what it says, as in "bought but never opened."
COA Certificate of Authenticity Documentation that vouches for the genuineness of an item, such as an autograph or painting.
OEM Original Equipment Manufacture You're selling the item and all the equipment that originally came with it, but you don't have the original box, owner's manual, or instructions.
OOAK One of a Kind You are selling the only one in existence!
NR No Reserve Price A reserve price is the price you can set when you begin your auction. If bids don't meet the reserve, you don't have to sell. Many buyers don't like reserve prices because they don't think that they can get a bargain. If you're not listing a reserve for your item, let bidders know.
HTF, OOP Hard to Find, Out of Print Out of print, only a few ever made, or people grabbed up all there were. (HTF doesn't mean you spent a week looking for it in the attic.)

Often, you can rely on eBay slang to get your point across, but make sure that you mean it and that you're using it accurately. Don't label something MIB (Mint in Box) when it looks like it's been Mashed in Box by a meat grinder.

Don't let your title ruin your salability

Imagine going to a supermarket and asking someone to show you where the stringy stuff that you boil is rather than asking where the spaghetti is. You might end up with mung bean sprouts — delicious to some but hardly what you had in mind.

Savvy buyers use eBay search to find merchandise; if the name of your item is spelled wrong, the search engine may (or may not) be able to find it. Poor spelling and incomprehensible grammar also reflect badly on you.

If you've finished writing your item title and you have spaces left over, please fight the urge to dress it up with lots of asterisks and exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!! (See how annoying that is?)

Another distracting habit is overdoing capital letters. To buyers, seeing everything in caps is LIKE SEEING A CRAZED SALESMAN SCREAMING AT THEM TO BUY NOW! Using all caps is considered shouting, which is rude and tough on the eyes. Use capitalization SPARINGLY, and only to finesse a particular point to attract the buyer's eye.

Giving the title punch with a subtitle

A handy feature on eBay are subtitles. eBay allows you to buy an additional 55 characters, which will appear under your item title on a search results page. The fee for this extra promotion is $0.50 for 7 days and $1.50 for a 30-day listing, and in many circumstances, it's definitely worth your while.

Any text that you input will really make your item stand out when many sellers have the same item up for sale. But (you knew there would be a but didn't you?) these additional 55 characters won't come up as part of a title search.

In other words, if the subtitle includes essential information ("NR MIMB," for example) that isn't in the main title, people searching for the terms NR MIMB won't find your listing. So if you have all those words in your description, the words will be found either way with a title and description search. If you choose this option, choose attention-getting info that isn't absolutely needed for the title itself.

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