The details of a prescription should be written in the following order:

The first part is the Superscription, which is the sign

The Prescription 142

, an abbreviation for Recipe, "Take."

The second part is the Inscription, consisting of the names of the drugs in the genitive case (the vehicle in the accusative if ad is used with it), and their doses in the accusative.

The third part is the Subscription, that is to say, the directions to the dispenser. This in England and most other countries is written in Latin, but in France it is in the language of the country.

The fourth part is the Signature, that is to say, the directions to the patient (from the Latin " Signetur," let it be labelled). This is written in English.

The fifth part consists of the physician's name or initials at the bottom on the right, the patient's name at the bottom on the left, and under it the date; thus:


Superscription 143


Tincture Ferri Chloridi, fl

Inscription 144

iij; 12. c.c., (.basis).

Quininae Hydrochloratis, gr. xxx; 2. gm. , (adjuvans).

Magnesii Sulphatis,

Inscription 145

ij; 60. gm., (corrigens).

Glycerin!, fl

Inscription 146

ij; 60. c.c., (corrigens).

Infusum Cinchonae, ad fl

Inscription 147

viij; 240. c.c., (excipient).


Fiat mistura.


Take one table-spoonful three times daily, two hours after meals. A. B. C. (physician's initials).

William Smith, Esq. (patient's name). 16th June, 1901 (date).

On the continent and in countries where the metric system is generally employed the quantities, either of fluids or solids, are expressed in grammes, so that the abbreviation is omitted; 60. meaning 60. gm. or 60. c. c. as the substance may be solid or liquid.


Although abbreviations are objectionable, yet this prescription could be written thus:

Abbreviations 148

Tinct. Fer. Chlor., fl

Abbreviations 149

iij; 12. c.c.

Quin. Hydrochlor., gr. xxx.; 2. gm.

Mag. Sulphat.,

Abbreviations 150

ij; 60. gm.

Glycer., fl

Abbreviations 151

ij; 60. c.c.

Inf. Cinch. ad fl

Abbreviations 152

viij; 240. c.c.

F. m.

S. Take one table-spoonful thrice daily, two hours after meals. William Smith, Esq. A. B. C

16th June, 190I.

S, ss. and fs. are abbreviations for semi, a half, and aa for ana, of each.

The following is a prescription for a pill:

Abbreviations 153

Extracti Nucis Vomicae, gr. 1/4; .015 gm.. Extracti Euonymi.

Aloini, aa gr. ss.; .03 gm..

Hydrargyri Chloridi Mitis, gr. j.; .06 gm. . Extractum Hyoscyami, ad gr. v.; .30 gm.. Fiat Pilula. Mitte 24.

S. Take one immediately before dinner every evening. William Smith, Esq. A. B. C.

16th June, 1901.

It will be observed that the quantities in the prescription are for one pill only, and the apothecary is directed to send 24. Often, however, the prescription is written with the quantity of each ingredient necessary to make the full number of pills. Thus:

Abbreviations 154

Extracti Nucis Vomicae, gr. vj.; .36 gm..

Extracti Euonymi.

Aloini, aagr. xij.; .75 gm..

Hydrargyri Chloridi Mitis, gr. xxiv.; 1.50 gm.. Extractum Hyoscyami, ad gr. cxx.; 8 gm..

Fiat Pilulae 24.

S. Take one immediately before dinner every evening. William Smith, Esq. A. B. C.

16th June, 1901.

Prescriptions for powders are also written in either way. The medicine may be prescribed as a pill when it is required that the patient shall carry it about with him, when only a small dose is needed, when it is desirable that it shall act slowly, when it is required to act on the lower bowel, when it is insoluble or nauseous, or when it is difficult to prescribe in the liquid form. Kaolin is the best basis for substances, as potassium permanganate, which are decomposed by contact with organic matter.

Oils, and volatile, deliquescent or bulky substances should not be prescribed as pills, as they require much solid excipient; nor should pills be used for substances required to act immediately. Insoluble or very disagreeable powders are often given in cachets.

Abbreviations should be employed as little as possible. Serious mistakes have happened because the abbreviations have been ambiguous. The following are especially to be avoided:

Acid. Hydroc (may be Acidum Hydrochloricum or Acidum Hydrocyanicum). Ext. Col. ( " " Extractum Colchici or Extractum Colocynthidis).

Hyd. Chlor. ( " " Calomel, Corrosive sublimate or Chloral hydrate).

Hyd. (may be Hydrargyrum, Hydras, Hydriodas, Hydrochloras or Hydrocyanicus). Sulph. ( " " Sulphur, Sulphide, Sulphate, or Sulphite).

Sometimes the signature is written in Latin, and it is often abbreviated. A list of such abbreviations is given in the appendix.

In Great Britain and in the United States it is always understood, unless otherwise stated, that the preparations are those of the Pharmacopoeia.