The ways you can optimize your menu descriptions.

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Designing your restaurant’s menu can be hard. Do you just want one page? Multiple pages? do you want a brochure-style or a booklet style? Regardless of how your menu will look like, there’s one important thing you can do: Make the descriptions simple. Here are a few tips to writing menu descriptions so that you can help accomplish that goal.

Each description should take less than eight seconds to read.

We have shorter attention spans than goldfish? Yep, we do (thanks to increasing smartphone usage) according to a study from Microsoft (via The Guardian). And that means you should apply the same principle (especially when an overwhelming number of restaurant patrons use their phones). Remember you’re only giving a hint of what the menu item is, and it should be just short enough that the patron should be able to paint a picture in their imagination(s).

Use plenty of adjectives.

But you just told us it should take less than eight seconds! you might have just thought. But it works. We’re not saying you should turn a steak into some sort of ambrosia, but being descriptive with your menu items will help give your patron(s) a better idea of what they are about to order. Remember, “pan-seared” is better than “grilled.”

If nothing else seems to work, use this formula.

Do you remember “I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z?” from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s interview with Google’s hiring head Laslo Bock? While it’s true that you’re not writing resumes in your menu, if you feel stuck use the formula to get somewhere.

This formula works for menu descriptions because you use the “X” to highlight the finished result, you can use “Y” to highlight what might be normally done (although depending on time or space, you can leave this out), and use “Z” to indicate what’s so unique about your menu item.