Formatting Amazon Product Descriptions using HTML

Formatting Amazon Product Descriptions using HTML

amazon_logo_largeHowdy,

As we all know, your product descriptions are hugely important when selling online.  They are part of my eCommerce “Holy Trinity” along with pictures, titles & video.

There is some of the confusion surrounding Amazon descriptions and what is and isn’t allowed in the Amazon catalogue.

A quick search online will throw up plenty of forums stating that absolutely no formatting is allowed in Amazon descriptions at all.  It must just be plain text which describes the product, however this is incorrect:

You CAN add HTML formatting to Amazon product descriptions.

And in this article you will learn about ALL the HTML tags you can use.

Basic Formatting for Amazon Product Descriptions

Basic formatting is allowed on your Amazon descriptions and we’ll  show you how you can do it, and what a difference it will make to entice more sales!

It is no secret that we think descriptions are a hugely important ingredient in your perfect listing recipe.  As you may remember the first E-commerce in Plain English Podcast covered “Descriptions that sell” If you haven’t heard it yet, then click the link and give it a listen.

The key for your description is to make it concise, descriptive (obviously) but most importantly, easy to read.

With a bit of formatting help we can make descriptions really easy to read and therefore increase the likelihood of a conversion into a sale.

How NOT to Make an Amazon Product Description

Amazon Example of a Poorly described product no HTMLTake a look at this product on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0047WHHIA/

The title is straightforward and states exactly what the product is. However the picture is dire, it’s obviously been resized, includes a watermark and you’re not supposed to have any background on product images on Amazon.  

Not only is it all in capital letters which is a huge pet hate of ours ( all CAPS which is a bit, ok very, very annoying ), however scroll down to the product description area.

It is all bunched together and all in capital letters and only over two lines it makes it very easy to miss if you are just scanning the page.

It doesn’t look professional and makes it look like an incomplete product page.

Seriously, would you buy this product?

Amazon Product Descriptions Using HTML

Amazon Product Description using HTML TagsWe have several examples of  HTML formatted in Amazon product descriptions.

While none of these are “amazing” examples, they’ll clearly demonstrate what you could be doing with your product descriptions.

Example 1 – Good “All Round” HTML usage
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004X9TTJC/

In this example you can see that the creator of the Amazon product description, has used the combination between sentences and bullet points on their product description.

Example 2 – Delicate use of Bold HTML tags
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005JC6BCU

This product description has “strong” HTML tags being used to highlight the key information. This case because it’s part of a “Suite”, these factors are really important to a buyer.

Example 3 – Using a Table
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00L9AA4JC/

And finally this product is demonstrating that you can include HTML tables in Amazon product descriptions and also basic colour coding too.

While none of these examples are 100% spot-on, I’m sure you agree these look better by employing some basic HTML to the descriptions and they sure beat the one-long-sentence that you find on most 3rd party sellers products.

Note: Amazon removed the original example we had for you, however we did grab a screenshot and you can see this in the image above. Click the image for a larger version

How to Create a Comprehensive Amazon Description With HTML

With a few simple HTML tags you can quickly emphasize and structure your descriptions.  Make them clearer and easier to read than a plain text paragraph.

We imagine that you’ll already know these tags already, but just in case you don’t, here are a few you can use when entering your Amazon product description.

Here we have a a very quick intro to HTML.

You have an opening (eg <b>) and a closing tag (eg </b>) if you want to cause an effect to whatever is in between the tags.

If you want to insert one piece of formatting on the page then you only need to add that tag once per effect (no opening and closing). Now that isn’t very easy to explain but the below examples should help.

Bold/ Strong Tags: <b> & </b>

These are a simple bold tag.  Everything that is in between these tags will appear in bold text.
This is perfect for sections of a description that you want to separate or important parts you want to highlight.  An example of how to use this would be: “<b>Technical Specifications</b>”

Line Break: <br>

This is the tag for a line break.  You can insert these to insert a line break in your description.

Perfect for making sure there is a difference between two paragraphs or drawing attention to a different section of your description. An example of this would be: “this is the end of one paragraph. <br> This is the start of the second.

Bullet Point Lists: <ul>, <ol> & <li>

These are the tags needed to create bullet or numbered points in your listing.
The UL tag stands for unordered list and everything in between them, will be put in bullet points.  The li tags are there to differentiate the different bullet points.  It’s really simple when you see it in practice so here you go:

The bullet point list:

<ul>
<li> This is a bullet point </li>
<li> And so is this one</li>
</ul>

And this would make:

  • This is a bullet point
  • And this is one

The one we’ve missed out is the use of OL instead of UL. OL tags make numbered bullet points and an example is below:

The numbered bullet point list:

<ol>
<li> This is a bullet point </li>
<li> And so is this one</li>
</ol>

And this would create:

  1. This is a bullet point
  2. And this is one

See easy peasy!

More HTML Tags You Can Use on Amazon

It doesn’t stop there either!

There are a whole collection of HTML tags that you can use, here is a small example of them:

  • <em> italic text
  • <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> for headings
  • <hr> for a horizontal rule
  • <pre> for pre-formatted text
  • <strong> an alternative to using <b> tags (but not suggested)
  • <sub> for subscript
  • <sup> for superscript

And just like HTML on web pages you can string them together like we saw in the previous example.

In Summary

By utilising these simple HTML tags you can make a massive difference to how your Amazon product description looks, and increases the chances of someone buying your product.

Amazon wants its marketplace sellers to create listings that fit in with their catalogue.  However there are limitations to how much formatting you can do, unfortunately you won’t be able to go to town like a true Amazon listing such as there Kindle descriptions, those are really expensive and the last time we checked, a single fully customised product page costs over £300.

So no pretty graphics, embedded video’s or photos are allowed, we are going back to basics here but it can make a massive positive difference if done properly.

With just a little bit of time & effort spent getting your product descriptions right and making them easy for potential customers to read then you greatly improve your chances of converting on Amazon.

Remember you create your Amazon product once and it stays in the catalogue forever so make sure you make it as good as it can be from the beginning as it saves having to go back and edit it again later unnecessarily.

If you’ve found this article helpful, let us know in the comments box below.

Matt & Dave

78 replies
  1. abidn36mbs
    abidn36mbs says:

    Hi Matt and dave

    Today I contact with amazon Seller Support, And They inform me that

    Greetings from Amazon seller support,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    Hi! This is “Manoj”, from Amazon Seller Support. As per our conversation your concern was related to use HTML code for your Product description.

    As I have checked and would like to inform you that as per Amazon detail page guideline, using HTML code on Amazon is Prohibited. So, I would highly suggest you do not use HTML, DHTML, Java, scripts, or other types of executables in your detail pages. For Amazon detail page rule, please go through the mentioned link below:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200414280
    Do not include HTML, DHTML, Java, scripts, or other types of executables in your detail pages.

    IS IT GOOD to use HTML after Amazon Prohibited?

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Jacek,

      Amazon doesn’t allow those tags in product description unless you go with their paid service at £300 per product page (thats why some products have fancy descriptions from manufacturers or the item is very old).

      Matt

      Reply
  2. ST
    ST says:

    Hey guys,
    Anyone know if HTML tags are still possible these days? I’ve tried it numerous times but keep getting an error “that the description contains special characters which are not supported”.
    When I remove all HTML tags it’s fine.
    Has Amazon become so nasty and strict?
    How can I get around it?
    They don’t even let me insert a space. And the I’m limited to 2000 character. NASTY.
    Any help would greatly be appreciated!

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy ST,

      Only very basic HTML is allowed on Amazon nowadays and if you use the online product editing/creation form then they don’t like any HTML at all (grrrrrr!!).

      Whereas the upload product sheets & API are still allowing the basic tags through and also note that the html tags also count towards the 2,000 char limit as well, so use them sparingly.

      Matt

      Reply
        • Matthew Ogborne
          Matthew Ogborne says:

          Howdy Eva,

          The product upload sheets vary from one category to another and from one Amazon site to another too.

          You can find the upload sheets in Amazon seller central under “inventory upload sheets” and templates are available for all the categories there.

          Tip: Scroll down to see them!

          Select the shee that feels right for your category and read through the help sections & data definitions, as that always catches me out when I enter something they don’t allow.

          As far as the API side, you would typically have a software tool that does this for you, such as M2EPro, which you can find the Amazon getting started course here https://understandinge.com/course/installing-configuring-m2epro-for-amazon/

          Hope that helps!

          Matt

          Reply
          • Tim Goodwin
            Tim Goodwin says:

            Hi Matt,

            So with no editing capability at all through the Amazon interface, what other options are there. M2E Pro seems like a bit of an overkill for me, given that I have just two SKU’s that I wish to edit.

            Thanks

            Tim

          • Matthew Ogborne
            Matthew Ogborne says:

            Howdy Tim,

            Yea for just two products that would be overkill (well unless you’re selling lots of them, both on Amazon, eBay and/or your website too and need order processing abilities too). In your case if you just want to update the product descriptions, the simplest options are to either edit directly in Seller Central or use the inventory import files Amazon provide.

            Matt

  3. Logan
    Logan says:

    Hi, just wondering why the ul tags are not working. Everything else is fine, but if I try to save my listing after adding an unordered list, it gives me an error saying description cannot contain special characters.. I’d love to have the ul tags working

    Reply
  4. MilesT
    MilesT says:

    I am experimenting with a workaround to the 2000 character product page description limitation

    My wife self-publishes early music CDs and I create the Amazon product pages for them (cheaper to sell as a basic seller and self fulfill than register with Amazon as a music publisher). Her next CD has a huge track listing that would not fit the description field.

    So I have typed the track listing and musician to instrument listing into powerpoint (4 pages) and saved as JPG and uploaded as images (and used an abbreviated track listing in the description)

    We’ll see if that works, in theory all text should be part of the product image (which it is, inside the booklet, which I don’t have yet and not very readable as a graphic)

    Reply
  5. Nicola
    Nicola says:

    If the original example listing was removed by Amazon, is it safe to utilize your tags? I wouldn’t want my listing together with its ranking and reviews be removed as well; or even worse, making my account in suspension.

    Reply
    • Dave Furness
      Dave Furness says:

      Hi Nicola,

      That will depend on what it is your listing was removed for previously. Basic HTML shouldn’t cause any problems but like I said that will depend on what it is your listing got pinged for.

      Dave

      Reply
  6. Pat
    Pat says:

    Hello,
    Thank you for this article. I’m wondering where to put the code? In the .xls file to upload the product listing ? Directly in the description tab in the Add product does’nt work for me. ?

    Pat

    Reply
  7. Robiul
    Robiul says:

    Hi, is there anyone knows how to add image to the product description like this: B005X1Y7I2 If anyone know kindly reply me back. Thanks

    Reply
  8. Brian
    Brian says:

    “those are really expensive and the last time we checked, a single fully customised product page costs over £300”

    Ok, so what is the cost and how can we go about getting a fully customized product page if money is not a concern? Where can we find this info?

    Reply
  9. Darren
    Darren says:

    I tried to insert an image like that article suggested but got errors until I took it out so looks like that has been blocked now.

    Reply
  10. Sam C
    Sam C says:

    Yup, looks like they took out the tag style support. There goes all my formatting if I want to update. If you don’t update then it allows the old description, but if you update it wants you to get rid of all the style markup. Oh well.

    Reply
  11. Ilya E
    Ilya E says:

    For a couple of days Amazon had some Manage Inventory issue and after that was fixed you can no longer use , and tags. I found it out by trying to edit my old listing. I didn’t even touch the description but when I went to save the listing I’ve received the following error message: “The Product Description you provided was invalid. Please verify that it does not contain any special characters.” So now I have to either use our old description or completely remove ALL html tags. That’s extremely frustrating!

    Reply
    • falco.ignacio
      falco.ignacio says:

      Hi Ilya, have you been able to figure this out? I’ve been breaking my head and spending several hours trying to use my HTML descriptions on my Amazon products and they do not work. I can verify that the HTML code is correct though.

      Reply
      • Matthew Ogborne
        Matthew Ogborne says:

        Hi Falco,

        You can get away with limited tags in the product editor in Seller Central. Assuming the tags you’re using are listed above, try using an import sheet to update the items instead.

        Matt

        Reply
  12. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    Great article, thank you. I have a question about the kind of descriptions like the kindle one. I think you mentioned somewhere in the comments that this is restricted for Amazon only. Are you sure about that? I’ve seen such a description of the product sold by other seller, the link is here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Non%C2%ADSlip-Guarantee-Absorbent-Durability-Environmentally/dp/B00K0NU3R2/ref=sr_1_2?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1414655799&sr=1-2&keywords=zen+active

    Is this kind of description allowed for everyone or maybe you need Amazon’s permission?

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Howdy Sylvia,

      Oh that’s naughty (or classy!), they’ve managed to get a background image in a P tag.

      I very much doubt you’re allowed to do that on “normal” Amazon products and trying this manually to revise an item on Amazon, it won’t work, so thats either a really old item or they’ve managed to get it in via a file import.

      Nice find!

      Matt

      Reply
  13. Martin
    Martin says:

    sorry my first reply had some html tags that didn’t show up.

    Hi, Thanks for the post it’s alot of useful info.

    I need some help please!

    Do i need to start my product description with this tag ‘html’ ?
    Does it need to have ‘head’ ‘/head’ and body tags?

    I created my product description using Html format.
    The only tags that worked were ‘p’. But the other tags like ‘h1’ Or ‘center’ did not work (I can see them in the description.

    What am i doing wrong?

    I would appreciate your help!!!

    Reply
    • Dave Furness
      Dave Furness says:

      Hey Martin,

      Glad you enjoyed the post, and a special hanks to Matt for updating it recently and adding some new info :)

      As for your description it doesn’t need to be written in full HTML, so the normal rules such as starting with HML and using Head and Body etc are not necessary.

      Similarly I don’t think H1 tags will work either. It is just the basics such as [p] [br] [b] and [li] etc

      Which if used properly can give you some really clean and easy to read product descriptions.

      Does this help?

      Dave

      Reply
  14. info4507
    info4507 says:

    One important thing that you’ve missed out is that the HTML tags count on that 2000 character limit more than you might think. Once you’ve uploaded your descriptions via the Upload products area Amazon then encodes the HTML tags which can increase the character limit hugely.

    For example:

    Is a full 10 characters, (not counting the superfluous [‘] )now if we encode this we get the following:

    <p></p>

    Which is quite a lot longer than 10 characters 19 if I can count correctly.

    Reply
  15. itzme
    itzme says:

    would you be able to tell me what i am missing here? as much as i try i see the HTML Codes in the description, i cant figure out what i am doing wrong.

    Reply
  16. itzme
    itzme says:

    What can be doing wrong that bullet points html code does not work for me, i even copies this:

    This is a bullet point

    And so is this one

    And filled out my own words but did not but the html came up in the description. anyone help??

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hi John,

      As a normal seller on Amazon you’re unable to add images to Amazon listings, only Amazon can do that and it costs something like £300 per product page for their service to do that.

      Matt

      Reply
  17. Chai
    Chai says:

    For many chances of searching at the internet, at last! This site explains well to me on how to edit the product description in Amazon. At least, I did an improvement for the product I am promoting. Thanks!

    Reply
  18. Adam
    Adam says:

    Just answered my own question: you have to make sure your HTML snippets do not touch the text in the description. If there is not a space between a and the text you’re trying to format, the code will not work.

    Reply
  19. Adam
    Adam says:

    Howdy,

    Every time I attempt to add the HTML you’ve mentioned to our product descriptions, it either does not work or the entire description disappears.

    Any idea why?

    Adam

    Reply
  20. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Hmmm, I followed the directions exactly and none of the Product Description shows up at all. Ideas? Where are some common stumbling blocks? Thank you for any ideas!

    Kathy

    Here is the code I used…

    Ranked Number One in canine intelligence, the Border Collie is a keen competitor in herding trials, agility, flyball and many other competitive pursuits. Your genius dog deserves a smooth, healthy nose.

    NOSE BUTTER, handcrafted organic balm for your dog’s dry, crusty, cracked nose, softens and supports your dog’s dry nose FAST. The uber-moisturizing layers of butters and oils work together to get and keep your dog’s nose in sniffing shape.

    NOSE BUTTER is individually handcrafted in the USA (far northern MN and winter is science fiction cold), using organic shea butter, organic castor oil, organic avocado oil, organic almond oil, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic cocoa seed butter, a dash of essential oils and LOTS of LOVE.

    Available in tins and tubes with your choice of breed on the label. NOSE BUTTER is the same good stuff inside the tins and tubes and for the different breeds. Options vary by breed.

    .25 oz slide tin
    .50 oz slide tin
    1.25 oz slide tin
    1, 2 & 4 oz tins
    .15 oz tube
    .50 oz tube
    .75 oz tube

    HOW TO APPLY NOSE BUTTER

    Tin: Dab a bit across the top of the nose
    Tube: Point away from eyes and swipe across nose
    Apply 2-3x a day for 2-3 days until nose is smooth
    Then use as needed for maintenance (1-3x weekly)

    KEEP YOUR DOG FROM LICKING IT OFF USING MY DISTRACTION TECHNIQUES

    Give a treat
    Feed a yummy dinner
    Play a game or toss the ball (whatever excites your dog)
    Go for a walk (good for you both)

    FOR EXTREMELY DRY OR CRUSTY NOSES

    Apply 2-3x a day for 2-3 days
    Gently rub crusty area with tissue after 3rd day
    If crust crumbles off, go to maintenance schedule
    If crust does not easily crumble off continue applying 2-3x a day until it does
    Then use as needed for maintenance

    Reply
  21. Mike
    Mike says:

    Thanks for providing answers that were next to impossible to find on Amazon. It seems we are at a bit of disadvantage without the ability to add photos and additional characters to product descriptions. When I look at some of the top sellers, I see very well designed product listings with photos for products that are sold by a third party. How did they accomplish that?

    Reply
  22. Kamil
    Kamil says:

    By, the way, the comment converted the tags to formating :-). On Amazon you can see: ” This is a bullet point And so is this one “

    Reply
  23. Kamil
    Kamil says:

    Hey guys,

    I have tested many times and bullet points do not work for me – it just displays them as text and no formatting is applied. Can you confirm that they work for you?

    So, instead of bullets, I just get this in one line on the product page:

    This is a bullet point And so is this one

    I used your example simply to test. So what’s going on? Anyone?

    Big thanks
    Kamil

    Reply
    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hi Kamil,

      The bullet points should work using the code above (I’ve not known them not to work). Try editing or creating a listing manually on Amazon and add in the code there.

      Let me know how you get on :)

      Matt
      PS. Yea the site will strip html from the comments areas.

      Reply
    • Dave Furness
      Dave Furness says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      Unfortunately not. Only Amazon have the ability to add images or videos to product pages, as you will most likely see on their Kindle pages. Sadly we are stuck with text only formatting.

      Dave

      Reply

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