Shell is thin, compressed, oval to rectangular with a large dorsal wing. Umbo is not raised above hinge line. Epidermis is shiny, light tan to olive-brown, becomes darker brown with age; light tan juveniles may have a greenish cast; without rays. Inside shell beak cavity is shallow; pseudocardinal teeth thin, small and erect; lateral teeth thin, blade-like and slightly curved; nacre (lining) light purple.
Similar species: Pink heelsplitter has a darker, thicker shell with a deep purple nacre and larger pseudocardinal teeth. Fragile papershell is light yellow with a darker area near the umbo and whitish to whitish-blue nacre, possibly with a pink tinge.