What counts as a ‘character’ for eBay Mobile?

eBay Mobile Description SummaryeBay recently announced mobile Item Description Summaries, which will display on mobile devices without the potential buyer having to click into the full description.

The eBay Mobile Item Description Summaries will be limited to 800 characters, but what’s a character? Is a space a character? We’ve got the full detail for you here:

What counts as a ‘character’ in eBay’s mobile Item Description Summaries?

Visible characters or spaces

Normal letters, numbers, commas, full stops and spaces all count as single characters.

Line items

If you create lists then the bullets or numbers they’re normally in the format “1: ” and so will count as 3 characters.

HTML Non Breaking Space code

  forces a browser to render a single space. Although the code is 6 characters the display effect is the same as pressing the space bar so this will count as a single character.

Breaks and Paragraphs

Don’t use line breaks or paragraphs in your eBay Mobile Item Description Summaries, they’ll create one or two lines of empty text and so use of <br> and <p> will be counted as a massive 50 characters (approximately one line of text on a six inch mobile screen).

The whole point of an eBay Mobile Item Description is to convey as much relevant information as possible on a tiny screen so putting in empty lines defeats the whole object of the exercise.

All other HTML

All other HTML tags (content within < >) are not counted as characters and will be ignored in the display. You won’t be able to use bold, italics, other text decorations and certainly no complex HTML such as tables.

Strategy for mobile description summaries

800 characters is not very much, so make the most of the space you have. Put in the key information in the shortest format possible.

Stick to factual information and avoid ‘flowery’ text – it might be appropriate to describe something as “A beautiful soft shade of cornflower blue” in your full description, but cut that down to “Blue” in your eBay Mobile Item Description Summary and you’ve just cut 39 characters down to just 4.

Use paragraphs sparingly and remember to put the most important information first. This especially applies if you’re going to leave eBay’s algorithm to automatically create your Mobile Item Description from your full Item Description, if you have a ton of less important information consider cutting it to leave just the key information for eBay to pick from and relegate anything that isn’t “product description” to other fields such as business information, payment and returns.

If you want to specify exactly what you’d like to appear for your eBay Mobile Item descriptions, add the following code to your eBay listing HTML:

<div vocab=”http://schema.org/” typeof=”Product”><span property=”description”>
[your description summary goes here]