Systematic descriptionption of each layer of soil from the surface down to bedrock provides the basis for the first assessment of the engineering properties of the soil. The important descriptionptors for a layer of soil are moisture condition, colour, consistency, structure, soil type and origin (MCCSSO). Standard terms for covering the range of each descriptionptor are given, together with standard graphical symbols for each soil type. Consistency assessments are extended to include the range of rock materials. The significant characteristics of the Southern African soil profile are discussed.