How to identify a pill by its number?

Identifying Pills by their Number: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever found a random pill lying around and wondered what it was for? Perhaps you misplaced your own medication and need to know what you’re looking for. Whatever the reason may be, identifying a pill by its number can be a daunting task for many people. But fear not, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to help you identify pills accurately and safely.

Step 1: Check the Pill’s Markings

The first step in identifying a pill by its number is to check if it has any markings or imprints on it. Most pills usually have markings or imprints that can help identify them. The marking generally consists of a combination of letters, numbers, and/or symbols. You will need to carefully examine the pill to identify the markings, as they can be small and tough to see. Once you have found the markings, you can move onto the next step.

Step 2: Use an Online Pill Identifier

If you’re having trouble identifying a pill by its markings, you can use an online pill identifier tool. There are several websites available that allow you to enter the markings, shape, and color of the pill to help identify it. Some popular online pill identifier websites include, Pillbox, and WebMD. These websites can provide you with detailed information about the pill’s drug class, side effects, and warnings.

Step 3: Consult a Healthcare Professional

If you’re still having trouble identifying a pill by its number after using an online pill identifier tool, you should consult a healthcare professional. This could be your doctor, a pharmacist, or a poison control center. They have access to specialized databases and can provide you with accurate information about the pill’s identification and usage.

Important Factors to Consider

Shape and Color of the Pill

The shape and color of the pill can provide vital information in identifying it. Pills come in various shapes and colors, ranging from round, oval, rectangular or shaped like an animal, and they can be white, green, blue, red or any other color. Your ability to notice unique characteristics can increase the accuracy of identification.

Type of Pill

The type of pill can also provide some insight into its identification. Pills can differ based on their formulation or drug class. For example, pills can be categorized as analgesics, antidepressants, anticoagulants, and many more. Knowing the type of pill can help you narrow down the options and identify the pill more accurately.

Imprint Code and Number

The imprint code and number can be instrumental in identifying pills. US legislation requires that all prescription drugs have unique numbers or alphanumeric codes embossed on them to help in identification. Additionally, it is common for pills to have an imprint of their dosage strength and even the manufacturers’ name. This information can help healthcare professionals identify the pill quickly.

Other Markings on the Pill

It is also essential to note other markings that may be present on the pill. Some pills could have special symbols or logos that may assist in their identification. The markings could also represent potential contraindications like the letters ‘DM’ may indicate dextromethorphan, which is a cough suppressant that has a high potential for abuse. Therefore, it is important to consider all markings when identifying pills.

Tips for Safe Identification of Pills

Keep All Medications in Their Original Packaging

It’s always advisable to store all medication in their original packaging. It’s easier to identify the pills when they are in their original container and with the appropriate information, including the name of the pills, dosage, and any possible side effects. Always double-check the label to ensure that you are taking the correct medication.

Don’t Take Unidentified Pills Without Professional Evaluation

If you’re unsure about the identity of a pill after using an online pill identifier tool, it’s best to avoid taking it. Taking unidentified pills can be dangerous and could cause complications. Always seek professional advice when in doubt.


Identifying pills by their number can be challenging, but it’s crucial to determine the right medication and its dosage. Familiarizing yourself with the unique markings and other characteristics of various medications can help you identify them accurately. Remember, if you’re unsure about a pill’s identity or dosage, always seek professional advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I do if I can’t find the marking on a pill?

    If there are no markings on the pill, or if the markings are illegible, you may not be able to identify the pill. It’s best to consult a healthcare professional to accurately identify it or dispose of the pill safely.

  • What are some common side effects of the wrong dosage of a medication?

    Some common side effects of the wrong dosage of a medication include dizziness, nausea or vomiting, increased heart rate, headache, blurred vision, and fatigue.

  • Can I identify a pill using color and shape alone?

    While the color and shape of a pill can help in identifying it, it’s vital to note that different manufacturers produce pills with different colors or shapes. So relying only on the color and shape of a pill can be misleading.


  • (n.d.). Pill Identification Wizard. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from
  • Pillbox. (n.d.). Pillbox – National Library of Medicine. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). How to identify unknown drugs and substances. Retrieved March 21, 2021, from