Softgel Sizes: The Ultimate Guide

Probably, you’re wondering whether Softgel sizes are measured the same way like that of hard gelatin capsules.

Or, maybe, you are just wondering how to determine the quantity of the semi liquid content of soft gelatin capsules.

Well, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about soft gelatin capsule sizes.

But first, let’s make a few facts clear:

Softgel Capsules Basics

Softgel capsule resembles the ordinary capsules, however, the manufacturing process is quite different.

Soft gelatin capsules

Soft gelatin capsules

The capsule is composed of a shell consisting of gelatin that covers the liquid filled in the capsule.

The shell of the softgel capsule is a combination of a pacifier, water, gelatin, as well as plasticizers like the sorbitol or even glycerin.

In fact, they form the main ingredients of soft gelatin capsules.

It can, therefore, dissolve quickly as compared to a hard gelatin capsule.

It readily dissolves in the gastric juices and other stomach liquids as compared to other capsules.

The capsule is, therefore, of growing interest for oral delivery in doses which are poorly soluble in water.

This is reinforced with the fact that the current drugs discovered are poorly biopharmaceutical.

The drugs, therefore, have lower permeability and aqueous solubility.

The softgel capsule provides various advantages due to its property.

It delivers matrix liquid that is meant to dissolve to improve the solubility of the oral bioavailability.

This is possible in the case of poorly soluble solid doses.

It provides ultra-low doses of compounds, making them reduce the melting point of the designated compounds.

Dust in the manufacturing industries is also reduced during the generation of the doses, which improves the safety of the production personnel.

The stability and development of the shell life of the capsule are faced with many challenges due to the dynamic nature of the capsule.

Care should as well be taken during transportation as well as storage as they are always more sensitive to hot weathers.

Manufacturing of softgel capsules needs specialized equipment. Compatibility with carriers or excipient with gelatin is still limited to few choices.

The cost of producing the capsule is relatively high.

Besides, the impact is immense on the manufacturers who used to make traditional tablets.

The cost of production rises due to the specialized technology needed during the production of the capsules.

Differences between Softgel Capsules and Hard Gelatin Capsules

Softgel capsule is a type of medicine whose shell is mostly composed of liquid substances which are readily soluble.

On the other hand, hard gelatin capsules have casings that are mainly composed of very tiny pellets or even powder medicine.

They are both used in the pharmaceutical industry as medicines and also made from gelatin compounds.

Hard gelatin capsules vs. soft gelatin capsules

From the above definition of the capsules, there are many differences between the Softgel capsule and the hard gelatin capsule.

differences can be in the physical attributes of the capsules or their purposes.

Let us, thus, discuss some of the significant differences that exist between the two drugs.

  • Softgel capsule is a liquid filled medicine and sealed hermetically as a single piece. Hard gelatin capsule, on the other hand, has its shell filled with powder or tiny pellet medicine. The hard gelatin medicine is as well composed of a cap and a body.
  • Softgel capsules come in various shapes like oval, round and even in the form of tube-like shapes. Hard gelatin capsules are cylindrical.
  • Shell of the Softgel capsule is composed of plasticizers, gelatin, sugars, opacifying agents, preservatives gelatin, and even coloring agents. On the other hand, the shell of the hard gelatin is composed of titanium dioxide, plasticizers as well as coloring agents.
  • The ration of gelatin to plasticizer is more in a Softgel capsule as compared to the hard gelatin capsule. In Softgel, the ratio is 0.8:1 while in hard gelatin capsule it is 0.4:1. This, therefore, makes the consumption of gelatin and plasticizers to be higher in Softgel capsules as compared to hard gelatin capsules.
  • Sealing of Softgel capsules is done in combined operation on the machine. The sealing of the hard gelatin capsule is accomplished after the filling is done. This is done to prevent the medicines from coming out as a result of rough handling of the drugs.
  • The procedures involved in medicament filling is more complicated in Softgel when compared to hard gelatin capsules.
  • Disintegration of the hard gelatin capsule is less as compared to that of Softgel capsules.
  • It is easier to encapsulate liquid, oily, and even semisolid preparations in Softgel capsules compared to the hard gelatin capsules. This is because the hard gelatin capsules are unable to deal with the oily, liquid, and even semisolid preparations.
  • Hard gelatin capsules sizes are available as 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. This does not apply for Softgel capsules.

Look at the table below to understand hard gelatin capsules sizes:

Hard gelatin capsules sizes

Hard gelatin capsules sizes

  • The boundary wall of the Softgel capsule is always soft and flexible as compared to hard gelatin, which is rigid and firm.
  • There is reduced dust handling problems in Softgel production as compared to hard gelatin capsules which produce a lot of dust.
  • Water content is more in Softgel capsules. It is hence unsuitable for products that are sensitive to moisture as compared to hard gelatin, which has little water content.
  • The equipment used in the manufacture of Softgel capsules is more expensive than those for the production of hard gelatin capsules.
  • Due to the larger content of moisture in the Softgel capsules, it promotes more microbial growth as compared to hard gelatin capsules.
  • Softgel capsules also dissolve at a faster rate as compared to the hard gelatin capsules. This is because most of the content of the Softgel is composed of liquid which readily dissolves in the bloodstream. The capsule is, therefore, suitable for patients in adverse conditions.

Softgel Shapes and Sizes

Various types of Softgel capsules exist in multiple forms of shapes, depending on customer needs.

The shapes and sizes also depend on the company’s preferences or even the doctors’ specifications.

We are going to discuss some of the sizes and shapes of the Softgel capsules that most pharmacies stock.

a) Oblong Softgel Size

These are types of the Softgel capsule which have the shape of an ellipse or a rectangle with one long end.

All the angles of this type of capsule are right angles.

Oblong Softgel Size and shape

Oblong Softgel size and shape

This type of Softgel exists in various sizes depending on the volume of the medicine in the shell.

Its capsule fill weight is approximately 1000mg with a size of 20 minims.

Some of the examples include 3 oblong with minims of 2.3 to 3.0, 12 oblong with minims of 11.0 to 12.

b) Round Softgel Standard Shapes and Sizes

These types of Softgel capsules are composed of a curved line that fully encloses a space.

The line is equidistant from the Centre of the capsules at every point.

This type of capsules is similar to a teardrop and exists in different sizes and colors.

Round Softgel Size and Shape

Round Softgel Size and Shape

Some of the examples include:

  • 3 round Softgel capsules that hold up to 171mg of the medicine in its shell,
  • 5 round Softgel, holding up to 285mg.
  • 18 round Softgel capsule which holds up to 1026mg of medicine in its shell, and
  • 40 roundSoftgel capsule which can hold up to a maximum of 2280mg.

c) Oval Softgel Capsule Sizes

This type of Softgel capsule is shaped like a circle though it is wider in one end as compared to the other.

It resembles the shape of an egg.

The capsule can hold various volumes of the liquid matrix depending on the density of the encapsulated material.

Oval Softgel Size and Shape

 Oval Softgel Size and Shape

It also exists in various colors depending on the type of medicine held in its shell.

d) Tube Softgel Sizes

This type of Softgel capsule is round in shape and flattened at the bottom.

This shape can be due to the manufacturing company’s preference or the doctor’s prescription.

The patients can also recommend the tube Softgel capsules.

Tube Softgel Sizes and Shape

Tube Softgel Sizes and Shape

The tube Softgel also exists in distinctive color and sizes, as determined by the density of the capsule shell.

e) Suppository Softgel Standard Shapes and Sizes

This type of Softgel capsule is a bullet whose supply in the market is limited to acceptability by the user.

In the earlier days, the capsule was mostly used in rectal and vaginal drug delivery.

Furthermore, the current suppository Softgel capsules are produced in such a way that they have integrated ingredients of active pharmaceuticals.

Suppository Softgel Capsule Sizes

Suppository capsules sizes and shape

The capsules are integrated into the existing formulation designs with no optimization.

The development of the current suppository Softgel capsules aims at improving the classical model to facilitate drug delivery.

It is as well poised to open the capsules to a broader variety of drugs.

In most cases, the standard size of the capsule is three millimeters,

f) Twist-off Softgel Capsules Sizes

This type of Softgel capsule allows the measurement of the dose for oral and topical applications.

Most of the grade ingredients in pharmaceutical industries that are briefly combined are delivered in this type of Softgel capsule.

Most of the twist-off Softgel capsules are extracted from seaweed as well as carrageenan.

Twist Softgel capsules are essential because it helps in safeguarding the doses that are sensitive to light.

Twist off Softgel capsule sizes

Twist off Softgel capsule sizes

The capsule is resistance to high temperatures.

This helps in maintaining its stability in varying conditions.

The capsule is also easy to use, in addition to improved compliance in the case of pediatrics and geriatrics.

g) Special Shapes Soft Gelatin Capsules Sizes

Special shapes soft gelatin capsules are those shapes that are unique.

They usually resemble the shapes of animals or even fruits.

Special shapes Softgel Capsules and Sizes

Special shapes Softgel Capsules

Their production depends on the demand in the market.

They help when you want to prevent counterfeit by having distinctive sizes and shapes of the capsules for market distinction.

The capsules may also exist in various sizes depending on the minim of the liquid in the shell.

The volume of the liquid medicine that the capsule can hold depends on the density of the shell.

Factors Determining Softgel Shapes and Sizes

Various factors influence the shapes and sizes of Softgel capsules.

Let us look at some of the major factors involved.

· Softgel Encapsulation Machine Tooling System

This is a mechanical equipment that is used in pharmaceutical applications.

SaintyCo Softgel Encapsulation Machine

SaintyCo Softgel encapsulation machine

The machine determines the size and the shape of the capsules because it accomplishes the encapsulation process.

During this process, it fills various pharmaceutical ingredients into different sizes of the capsule.

· Market Requirements and Needs

People have different tastes and preferences.

This will, therefore, determine the shapes and the size of the capsules because the capsules are for human consumption.

· Weight of Softgel Capsules

Government regulations influence the weight variations specifications of the final capsules.

Most governments give specifications for fill weight, which pharmaceutical industries must adhere to.

The specifications can, therefore, determine the shape and size of the capsules.

· Volume of Softgel Capsules

The more the contents of the capsule, the larger the capsule will have to be.

When the volume is very high, special shapes are necessary to enhance stability

· Special Purposes

This may occur with the aim for market differentiation where one requires unique shapes and sizes of the capsules as a safety measure.

The special shapes and sizes are, therefore, mostly meant done to prevent counterfeit.


Softgel capsules dissolve faster as compared to hard gelatin capsules.

This is the main difference between them and hard gelatin capsules.

Also, Softgel capsules exist in various sizes and shapes.

This usually depends on the market requirement and the encapsulation machine, among other factors.

The minimum of liquid medicine in the capsule is determined by the density of the shell.

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