The family consists of pleurocarpous mosses with very diverse appearances. They are irregular or pinnately branched and form loose mats. The leaves are broad ovate or triangular and are sharply focused at the top. A midrib is always present and usually reaches more than half of the leaf. The leaf cells are prosenchymatous and are many times longer than wide and interlocking with pointed ends.
The sporophyte consists of a regularly formed spore capsule that stands straight on the setae. The spores are distributed through an annular peristome, which is closed off by a beak-shaped operculum in immature plants.
Other genera are provisionally placed in the family, including: