We’ve looked before at how to write a great Amazon description and how to format that Amazon description with HTML tags. What we haven’t looked at in depth yet is which HTML tags you actually should use in that description. Amazon allows a pretty big list of options, but not all of them will help you to present your book in a way that will help you sell more copies. Today, let’s take a look at which HTML tags are worth using in your Amazon description and why.
Which Tags Amazon Allows
First of all, which tags does Amazon even allow? Here’s a list of the tags you’re allowed to use in your Amazon description, plus what each one does. This list is from Amazon’s help documents.
- <b> or <strong> — Creates bold text.
- <br> — Creates a line break.
- <em> or <i> — Creates italic text.
- <font> — Allows you to specify a font.
- <h1> — Header Size 1 (Largest).
- <h2> — Header Size 2.
- <h3> — Header Size 3.
- <h4> — Header Size 4.
- <h5> — Header Size 5.
- <h6> — Header Size 6 (Smallest).
- <hr> — Creates a horizontal line across the text area.
- <li> — An item in a list. Requires a starting list tag.
- <ol> — Creates an numbered list of items. Items in the list must be denoted with the <li> tag.
- <p> — Defines a paragraph with a line break at the end of the text inside the tags.
- <pre> — Defines preformatted text.
- <s> or <strike> — Creates strikethrough text.
- <sub> — Makes subscript text.
- <sup> — Makes superscript text.
- <u> — Underlines text.
- <ul> — Creates a bulleted list of items. Items in the list must be denoted with the <li> tag.
Whew! That’s a lot of choices! The good news is that most of the time, you’ll only need three or four of these tags, or maybe five or six if your book is non-fiction. Let’s look at which ones you should use.
<p> tag (paragraph)
A big sea of text won’t help you sell your book. You’re a writer; you know how important it is to break your writing into smaller paragraphs. This tag will let you make it easier to read your Amazon description. It seems obvious, but I’ve seen way too many Amazon descriptions with no paragraph breaks. If you get nothing else from this article, get this: Use paragraphs!
<em> tag (italics)
It’s standard practice to italicize book titles, so make sure you’re doing that in your Amazon description. It makes you look more professional.
Italics can also be useful if you want to offset a short excerpt from your book. Try italicizing a couple of iconic sentences from your story at the top of your Amazon description to grab your reader’s attention. Take a look at the Amazon description on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to see how a bestseller uses this technique.
<strong> tag (bold text)
You can use bold text to make a header in your description. Initially while I was researching for this article, I was going to recommend using the official HTML header tags. However, after checking the bestseller list on the Kindle store, it turns out that bestselling books on Amazon tend to use bold text for headers. Learn from the books that are successful!
For a look at how this technique works, look at What If? and notice how the bold text makes an attention-grabbing headline. Another trick is to put accolades in the bold text, like Hillbilly Elegy does.
Sometimes Amazon’s descriptions are wonky and you need to force a line break to make things look right. The <br> tag is how you do that.
For non-fiction: list tags
If your book is non-fiction, list tags can be a great way to make your description skim-able. Use <ul> to start a list, then put each point in <li> tags to create a bulleted list. Try creating a list of the top five things you’ll learn from reading this book.
For an example of how this works, I’ll humbly point you to my own book Finding the Core of Your Story.
Some bestselling books on the Kindle store don’t even use fancy HTML tags or formatting in their descriptions. Sometimes simpler is better. Check out the description for The Martian for some inspiration—notice how much whitespace is around the first few paragraphs.
Well, now that you know which tags are good choices, which ones will you use in your book’s Amazon description?
If you want more Amazon description goodies, check out How to Format Your Amazon Description to Stand Out and How to Write an Incredible Amazon Description.