The pardalotes are small, compact birds that range in size from 8.5–12 cm (3.3–4.7 in) in length. The spotted and striated pardalotes conform to Bergmann's rule and are larger in the south than they are in the north. The males and females are the same size as each other, but there are some differences in the plumage of some species. They have short, square-tipped tails and relatively short rounded wings (which are longer in the more dispersive species). The bill is short, deep and robust, but lacks the rictal bristles that surround the bills of many other insectivorous birds.