The white crappie is a silvery, deep-bodied, slab-sided fish with a mouth that is proportional to body size. The upper jaw reaches well past the middle of the eye when the mouth is closed. The silvery body color shades to green or brown on the back. There are several, usually 7 to 9, vertical dark bars on the sides, and the belly is bright silver or white. The spiny dorsal and soft dorsal fins are broadly connected without a notch between. The anal fin is usually as long and as large as the dorsal fin and contains 6 spines. The dorsal fin has 6 spines and the length of its base is much less than the distance from the eye to the front of the dorsal fin. Breeding males become much darker and vividly marked during spawning; females retain their usual coloration and markings. The white crappie has a ski-slope shaped nasal structure, and the forward part of the back is strongly concave.