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Quick Guide to Describing Item Conditions

Use common kinds of shorthand to help you to describe items accurately


It’s always good to be specific and descriptive in your auction listings, especially when selling used goods. At the same time, however, it’s also important to have a nice, punchy listing that will interest buyers without requiring that they read multiple paragraphs about the item(s) you have for sale.

Very often, the most difficult thing about listing used items for sale is figuring out how to describe the condition that they’re in in a way that doesn’t undersell your item but that also doesn’t risk earning a negative feedback response from a buyer who was just plain expecting more.

On eBay, as at many other used items forums of all kinds, there is a kind of shorthand that can help you to describe your items in a way that is quick, punchy, informative, and reasonably objective and fair—if you use it correctly—to your buyers. This shorthand consists of a number of abbreviations that you can put in the title of your item listing so that buyers know immediately what sort of condition your item is in.

Item Quality Gradings

The most common system in use to describe items this way uses the following terms to indicate to buyers what sort of condition the item is in. Appending a plus (+) or a minus (-) to the end of the abbreviation indicates that the item is ever so slightly more (+) or less (-) nice than the abbreviation indicates.

  • New or NIB—The item is factory new (i.e. “New In Box”). This is generally taken to mean not only unused, but store-ready, still in all original and factory sealed packaging.

  • Unu or Unused—The item is brand new, never used, but its box has been opened and/or is not still factory sealed.

  • MIB—Short for “Mint In Box,” this abbreviation indicates to buyers that the item is completely indistinguishable from a factory new item and that all packaging is included. The item may, however, have been used (though not enough to make such use apparent in any way).

  • Mint—The item is completely indistinguishable from a factory new item despite its potentially having had some light use. No packaging, however, is included. Nothing on it but fingerprint grease? Then it's not mint. Look to LN (below) instead.

  • LN—Short for “Like New,” this abbreviation indicates that the item, while not quite in absolute mint condition, is close enough to factory perfection to escape all but the most discerning eye, though original factory packaging may or may not be included (remember to be explicit on this point in your listing). Common variations include “LNIB” (“Like New In Box”) and “As New.” Remember that a single scratch or scuff disqualifies an item from being considered "Like New."

  • EX—Short for “Excellent,” this abbreviation indicates that while the item has clearly been used, its condition is such that it promises to offer all of the pleasure or utility to its owner that a new item might have; it’s useful life should not have been shortened, nor should there be any visible or functional defects beyond very slight normal wear. This is "just one scratch" or "only a couple of months use" territory.

  • Good—The item is clearly used and its useful lifespan will not be as long as that of a factory new item. However, there are no major defects, either visible or functional and the item remains in full working condition.

  • Fair—The item suffers from some amount of wear and appears clearly to be a well-used item. Nonetheless, it continues to function generally as was originally intended and should be expected to do so for some minimal amount of time.

  • Bargain Grade or BGN—The item remains functional and free from defects that would hamper its utility, but it is obviously used and may have a significantly shortened lifespan. It can be regarded as being near or at the end of its useful life and/or it is significantly visually damaged to such an extent that a significant discount and an explicitly low grade are indicated.

  • Poor or AS/IS—The item should not be purchased by anyone intending to use it for its originally conceived purpose, as it is unlikely to be able to fill the function reliably and/or it is so ugly or aesthetically compromised as to render it undesirable to most buyers.

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