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How To Write A Better Short Description For Your Article
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When you’re entering your article into the submission page, you’ll see a section that asks for a short description of your article.

Here’s how the “short description” field looks on (and this screenshot was taken while entering one of my articles, so you’ll see I’ve already entered my short description):


You may be wondering:

  • What is the purpose of the “short description”?
  • Is it important what you write in there?
  • How can you maximize the power of your short description?

Those are great questions, and I’d love to share some ideas and approaches you may wish to try when submitting your next article:

What is the purpose of the “short description” field?

The short description is used by publishers on the summary page of an article directory.

For example, let’s look at our own article directory.

If you go to that page, you’ll see a list of articles with a short summary (or short description) of what they’re about.

As you look at the list of articles and their “short descriptions”, you’ll see that some are better than others. Some of the short descriptions make you want to read more (and click through to see the entire article), and others are not as compelling.

Is the short description important?

Yes, it’s almost as important as the resource box, because the quality of your short description can impact the traffic your article receives.

When someone is looking at the summary page of a directory (or the category page), they will read your short description before deciding to click through to read your entire article. For that reason, it’s very important to make a good article summary!

So, even though the short description is not visible to you when you’re looking at the page where your article is published, that article summary shows up in other important places that may not be as obvious to you.

In addition to the summary page of an article directory, the short description is also visible from the category summary page of an article directory and in search engine results listings.

Write a good article short description, and you could increase traffic to your article (which in turn can increase traffic to your website). Write a so-so article short description, and you’ll miss an opportunity to capture a reader’s attention.

How do you capitalize on the power of the article short description?

The article short description (or article summary) should be a synopsis of what your article is about. Sometimes a trick for writing the article summary is just to use the intro paragraph (or concluding paragraph) of your article if it’s appropriate.

One thing you should never do is mention your own business or website in the article summary–that will get your article declined at some publishers.

Want to see some examples? Take a look at my list of articles.

Here are some examples of my short descriptions:

With some creativity you can morph your articles into several different forms to bolster your online marketing efforts and create maximum benefit with minimum effort. By getting multiple marketing uses out of one piece of content, you save time, extend your marketing reach, and create more doorways for potential customers to find you. If you’re in the mood to stretch your marketing mileage, consider trying one of these 3 uses for your articles:

(This summary was for the article “3 Ways to Get Multiple Marketing Uses Out Of Your Articles“)

Are the articles you’re writing striking nerves with your potential customers? It’s hard to be a mind reader, but thankfully, we do have ways of getting insight into the minds of our readers. What types of topics are hot with your customers? You’re about to find out…

(This summary was for the article “Article Marketing: 5 Ways To Tell What Topics Are HOT With Your Readers“)

Notice that each of those “short descriptions” leads the reader into the article.

It may help to think of the “short description” as functioning sort of like a resource box. We all know how important the resource box is with article marketing–the purpose of the resource box is to draw the reader to your website after reading your article, but the purpose of the “short description” is to draw readers into reading your full article when they’re looking at a long list of article titles and short descriptions.

I encourage you to look through the article descriptions listed at the main article list at the article directory, and see which article summaries make you want to click through to read the entire article. If you see an article in that list that makes you want to click through to read the entire article, then the short description did its job well!

How To Write A Better Short Description

1) Limit yourself to 450 characters (with spaces) or fewer.

2) As a short cut, you might try using your intro paragraph or your concluding paragraph for your article as your short description, if appropriate.

3) Use complete sentences and ideas.

You have a very short space in which to communicate with a potential reader and lure them into reading your entire article, so don’t cut corners. I don’t think it’s very effective to just put a short description that says “Article about sail boats” and leave it at that. You want to entice readers and lure them in, so by all means put some thought into it and write in complete sentences.

4) Tell specific information you will teach the reader in your article.

Does your short description give concrete info about what your article is about? If so, that’s very helpful to someone who is skimming a list of article summaries.

Here’s a short and sweet article description that I thought was very good (This is the short description for the article The Way Of The Knight ):

“This gives an overview of the medieval knight, an idea of what it must have been like to wear armour, the size of his horse and touches on the hardships he faced on the First Crusade.”

After reading that short description, I know exactly what to expect from the article. If I’m interested in that topic, I will click through to read the entire article, because I know that it will give me the information I need.

You see, the short description doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be functional–it needs to tell the reader specifically what your article is about and what they will learn from reading your entire article. It can also be sort of like a “teaser” that leads the reader into your article.

5) Do not include your name, website address, business name or anything promotional in the short description.

This will get your article declined at some publishers. The appropriate place to talk about yourself is in your resource box. The article summary is where you give a synopsis of your article.

How about you–Do you have any special tricks you use when crafting your short descriptions? Please share!

NOTE: Please be aware this content may now be outdated. For the latest quality content on how to build massive publicity for your website, please go to The vWriter Blog - Helping Businesses Grow Traffic, Build Engagement, and "Be Everywhere"

14 Responses to “How To Write A Better Short Description For Your Article”

  1. InternetHow says:

    I think description is very important. Good description will give enough info to the reader so they want to read more.

  2. [...] In the short description area, write a short summary of your article, preferably something that would entice a reader to want to read more. Please see this resource for more detailed tips: How To Write A Better Short Description [...]

  3. I agree and think I do pretty well with my short summaries and/or descriptions. It may seem to be unecessary, however, it is quite useful and gives readers a feel for what the article is about.

  4. Ricardo A. says:

    He-he-he … this is helpful for my lack of understanding concerning this topic. I’ve often thought that if the reader only read the article, then he wouldn’t have to ask what’s it all about.

    ““Article about ….” and leaving it at that” – oh boy … is my face red!

    Thank you for helping me not get embarrassed the next time.

  5. Bill says:

    This information with the links to other articles and their short descriptions is so helpful. The emphasis on keywords and links to the keyword tool for Google. Excellent!

    It looks like the short description is second in importance to your headline.

  6. Riley West says:


    I appreciate these article tutorials you have so liberally provided. It’s inspiration for me.

    But…can I format my article like you have here? I mean take a look at it – a thing of beauty.

    It has a good headline a couple of standard paragraphs, Then a screenshot, and then a short emphatic bullet list.

    Add to those things the nice bold orange (nothing rhymes with orange) sub-heads and the some “set in” content.

    Can we do that or is it only for the masters.

    I’ll take my answer off the air.

    Your associate in article marketing,

    Riley West

  7. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi Riley,

    Thanks for your question–when you submit articles they need to be in text format only. This blog post has color and bold and a screenshot, and that works because it’s a blog post. But when I re-work this post to submit as an article, I do submit it in text format. Here is what it looks like as a free reprint article.

  8. David Foster says:

    Thank you for this article, it has focused my mind on how to draw in attention at the outset.I realise that having a great article is only good if you can get people there to read it!

  9. says:

    I am just completing my first Article. I propose to publish the same on our website also, but with lots of pictures. When I submit the Article to directories, can I mention in the middle of the article that the same is published on our website with pictures?

  10. Steve Shaw says:

    Hi tmart–

    You had asked “When I submit the Article to directories, can I mention in the middle of the article that the same is published on our website with pictures?”

    No, most publishers would not like that, but what you can do is mention that same thing in the resource box. So, don’t try to direct folks to your website in the article body–save that info for the resource box.

  11. Jerrel Jones says:

    You are so right about including the step by step instructions up front.
    I have my windows side by side and I am moving right along on my first article.

  12. Hi Steve,

    I need one clarification.

    Is it necessary to include the main keyphrase that the article is focussing on in the description?

    What I mean is, does inclusion of the main keyphrase in the description have any SEO benefits?


  13. Steve Shaw says:

    @V K Rajagopalan: Hi Raj,

    It should be natural to include the main keyphrase in the short description, because surely that’s what the article is about … in terms of seo benefits, it all helps in terms of providing a relevant context for the link(s) back to your site.

    I hope that helps!

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