5 Tips for Writing Great Menu Descriptions

When thinking about how to write a menu, it’s important to remember that your menu is read by nearly every guest who walks through the door. Much more than a list of items and prices, your menu is a reflection of your restaurant’s concept, style and the quality you deliver. If crafted correctly, menu descriptions encourage customers to order and ultimately set the expectations for their meal.

Use these five tips to create compelling descriptions and perfect restaurant menu design.


1. Keep it Short

Sure, you could rave about each item on your menu, but descriptions should be concise. Short descriptions don’t have to be boring. Use words that pack a punch and language that’s vivid and enticing – giving just enough information to make a guest’s mouth water.


2. Ignite the Senses

Use sensory words – such as “fiery,” ”savory” and “crispy” – to describe your dishes. People are driven by their senses, and by using simple yet tantalizing terms that speak to the each of the five senses, you paint a clear picture of what diners can expect from the dish. One study found that using descriptive labels increased sales by 27 percent and improved diners’ overall attitude toward the food and restaurant.


3. Know Your Audience

Are your diners mostly families? Or college students? Knowing the characteristics of the demographics you’re targeting makes it easier to hone in on specific menu items that will appeal to those customers.

Additionally, research shows that men and women tend to order along gender-based lines, so make sure your menu descriptions account for both preferences. Men tend to order meals that are described as being hearty and filling, while women lean toward lighter options. Crafting descriptions that appeal to both of these groups will help your menu appeal to people across the board.


4. Placing the Price

Oh the problematic price list. When prices are neatly lined up on one side of your menu, you’re inviting customers to shop dishes based on price and not on their palate or taste preferences. Instead stick prices after the dish description and avoid using dots or dashes, which – literally – connect the dish to a dollar amount in a customer’s mind.

Likewise, drop the dollar sign. One study found that diners opt for cheaper choices when dollar signs are used in menu prices, and this effect is even stronger for euros and pounds.


5. Design Wisely

Your menu is an extension of your restaurant’s brand. And while just about every customer reads your menu, you typically have their attention for a grand total of 109 seconds. Organize your menu into categories to make it easier for guests to skim and quickly find what they’re looking for. Call out specialty items with boxes, bold text and colors, which increases the likelihood these items will be seen and ultimately ordered.


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