Tablets vs. Capsules: Pros, Cons, and How They Differ

In today’s world, modern medicine offers a wide range of options when it comes to taking medications. From injections and syrups to pills and capsules, there are plenty of choices for those in need. Two of the most popular forms of medication are tablets and capsules, and both have their pros and cons.

Tablets are solid, compressed forms of medication that can be swallowed whole or broken into smaller pieces. They generally come in round, oval, or oblong shapes and have a smooth, shiny surface. Capsules, on the other hand, are small, cylindrical shells that contain medication in either liquid, powder, or granule form. They come in two parts: the hard outer casing and the inner, soft medicine-filled part.

Despite their similarities, tablets and capsules differ in several ways. For instance, tablets tend to dissolve slower than capsules, which can affect the speed of their therapeutic effects. Additionally, tablets can be less convenient to swallow if they are large or awkwardly shaped. On the other hand, capsules can be easier to swallow than tablets and are often used for medications that are difficult to compress into tablet form.

Overall, the choice between tablets and capsules comes down to personal preferences and individual medical needs. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of both forms of medication, as well as how they differ in delivery, effectiveness, and more.

Tablets vs Capsules: Pros, Cons, and How They Differ

Pros of Tablets

Tablets are a common form of medication and have many benefits. Firstly, they are often less expensive than other forms of medication because they are more widely produced. Secondly, tablets have a longer shelf life than other forms of medication, meaning they can be stored for longer periods of time without losing their potency. Lastly, tablets can be scored, making it easier for patients to take a smaller dose if necessary.

Cons of Tablets

Despite their benefits, tablets do have some downsides. Firstly, they can be difficult to swallow, especially for patients with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Secondly, some tablets require the use of a pill splitter, which can be inconvenient and can result in uneven dosing. Lastly, tablets may not be suitable for patients with gastrointestinal issues, as they can take longer to dissolve in the stomach and may cause discomfort.

Pros of Capsules

Capsules are another popular form of medication and have their own benefits. Firstly, they are usually easier to swallow than tablets, as they are often smaller and can be swallowed whole. Secondly, capsules are usually easier to digest, as they dissolve faster in the stomach. Lastly, capsules can be filled with a variety of substances, including liquids and powders, making them a versatile option for medication delivery.

Cons of Capsules

While capsules have many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Firstly, capsules can be more expensive than tablets due to their production process. Secondly, capsules may not be suitable for patients with food allergies, as some capsules are made from animal products or contain gelatin. Lastly, capsules may not be appropriate for patients who need a specific dose, as they cannot be scored like tablets.

In conclusion, both tablets and capsules have their pros and cons. Patients should discuss their medical needs and preferences with their healthcare provider to determine the best option for their medication delivery.

Manufacturing Process of Tablets and Capsules


The manufacturing process of tablets typically involves several stages that include wet granulation, dry granulation, compression, and coating. Wet granulation involves mixing the active ingredients with excipients, which are added to enhance drug absorption and maintain the tablet’s shape and stability. Next, the mixture is passed through a sieve to obtain granules of uniform size and density.

In dry granulation, the raw materials are compressed to form flakes, which are then milled into granules. Compression involves using a tablet press to compress the granules into the desired shape and size. Finally, the tablets undergo a coating process, which involves applying a thin layer of film to protect against moisture, light, and other factors that could degrade the drug.


The manufacturing process of capsules involves several steps that include formulation, filling, and sealing. In formulation, the active ingredients and excipients are mixed in the appropriate proportions and encapsulated in two-piece hard or soft shells.

In filling, the encapsulated powder or liquid is dispensed into the shells, which are then sealed to prevent leakage. Hard shells are typically filled by weight or volume, while the filling of soft shells involves dosing the liquid formulation. The final step involves inspection and testing to ensure that the capsules meet quality standards.

Overall, the manufacturing process of tablets and capsules varies depending on the type of drug, dosage, and other factors. Both tablets and capsules have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of ease of use, administration, and absorption. It is important to consult a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate dosage form for your individual needs.

Pros of Tablets Over Capsules

1. Easy to Swallow

Tablets are smaller in size and smoother in texture than capsules, making them easier to swallow. This can be particularly beneficial for children or people who have difficulty swallowing pills.

2. Faster Release of Medication

Tablets dissolve and release medication faster than capsules, allowing for faster onset of action. This can be especially important for medications that need to be absorbed quickly, such as pain relievers.

3. Better Stability

Tablets are generally more stable than capsules, as they are less likely to react with moisture or air. This can help ensure that the medication remains effective for longer periods of time.

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4. Convenient Packaging

Tablets can be packaged in blister packs, which are easier to use and transport than the bulkier bottles often used for capsules. This can be especially useful for people who need to take their medication on the go.

5. Easy to Divide

Tablets can be easily divided or cut in half if a smaller dose is needed. This can be particularly useful for medications that need to be tapered off gradually.

  • Overall, tablets have several advantages over capsules in terms of ease of use, stability, and packaging.

Cons of Tablets compared to Capsules

Difficulty of Swallowing

One of the major disadvantages of tablets compared to capsules is their size and shape. Tablets are often larger and harder to swallow for some people, especially those with swallowing difficulties. Tablets also have sharp edges which can cause discomfort during swallowing.

Uneven Distribution of Active Ingredients

Tablets are compressed powders while capsules are filled with a powder or liquid. Tablets can sometimes have uneven distribution of active ingredients which can lead to inconsistent dosages. In contrast, capsules offer a more consistent distribution of active ingredients ensuring consistent dosages.

Slower Absorption Rate

Tablets can be slower to dissolve and absorb in the body compared to capsules. This is because tablets need to be broken down into smaller particles before absorption. Capsules, on the other hand, dissolve quickly and release their contents for absorption.

Not Suitable for Sensitive Stomachs

Tablets can take longer to be digested and may irritate sensitive stomachs. Some coatings on tablets can also cause digestive upset or allergic reactions in some people. Capsules, with their smooth coatings, are generally better tolerated by people with sensitive stomachs.

  • In summary, tablets have several drawbacks compared to capsules including difficulty of swallowing, uneven distribution of active ingredients, slower absorption rate, and potential for causing digestive upset or allergic reactions in some people. Capsules provide a more consistent and faster absorption of active ingredients and are generally better tolerated by people with sensitive stomachs.

Pros of Capsules over Tablets

Easier to Swallow

Capsules are often easier to swallow compared to tablets, especially for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. Capsules have a smooth and slippery coating that makes it easy to swallow, even without water.

Faster Absorption

Capsules are designed to dissolve quickly and start releasing the medication soon after ingestion. Therefore, they are absorbed faster into the bloodstream compared to tablets. Capsules are a better option when a quick onset of action is needed.

Customizable Dosing

Capsules come in various sizes and can be filled with different doses to accommodate individual needs. This allows for greater flexibility in dosing and a more personalized approach to medication management. Tablets, on the other hand, come in fixed doses and may not be suitable for everyone.

  • Capsules are easier to swallow.
  • Capsules are absorbed faster into the bloodstream.
  • Capsules can be customized to fit individual needs.

Cons of Capsules compared to Tablets

Slower Absorption Rate

Capsules dissolve at a slower rate than tablets, which means they take longer to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This is because the gelatinous outer coating of the capsule needs to be broken down first before the contents can be released. This slower absorption rate can make capsules less effective for those who require immediate relief from symptoms, such as pain or anxiety.

Difficulty for Some to Swallow

Capsules can be difficult for some people to swallow, especially those who have difficulty swallowing pills or who have a sensitive gag reflex. This can be a particular issue for those who need to take several capsules at once or for those who require frequent dosing throughout the day. In contrast, tablets can be crushed or cut in half to make them easier to swallow, and they still maintain their efficacy.

Less Versatile in Formulation

Capsules are limited in terms of the types of formulations that can be used, as they require a gelatinous outer coating to hold the contents together. Certain types of medications, such as those that are water-soluble, cannot be formulated as capsules. Tablets, on the other hand, can be made into a variety of shapes, sizes, and formulations to suit the needs of the medication.

More Expensive to Produce

Capsules are generally more expensive to produce than tablets, due to the cost of materials and the manufacturing process. This additional cost is often passed on to the consumer, making capsules a more expensive option than tablets. This can be particularly important for those who are on a tight budget or who need to take medication on a long-term basis.

Less Convenient for Travel

Less Convenient for Travel

Capsules can be more difficult to transport when traveling, as they can take up more space than tablets. Additionally, capsules may be more prone to breaking, especially if they are stored in a hot or humid environment. Tablets, on the other hand, can be easily stored in a small container or pillbox and are less likely to break or melt in adverse conditions.

Size Differences between Tablets and Capsules


Tablets are solid dosage forms that come in various sizes and shapes. They are made by compressing a mixture of active ingredients, excipients, and binding agents. Tablets are usually small and easy to swallow. The size of the tablet depends on the amount of active ingredient and other components used in its formulation. Some tablets may be scored, making it easy to break them into smaller pieces if needed.


Capsules are also solid dosage forms but are usually larger than tablets. They come in two different varieties – hard and soft. Hard capsules are made of two separate pieces and are filled with the medication in a powder or granular form. Soft capsules are made of a single piece and contain liquid medication inside. Capsules are usually easier to swallow than tablets as they have a smooth coating. However, some people may find it challenging to swallow larger capsules.

Overall, the size difference between tablets and capsules depends on the dosage formulation and the type of medication used.

Absorption Rates of Tablets vs Capsules

Tablets Absorption Rates

Tablets are compressed powder formulations that dissolve gradually in the stomach after ingestion. The digestion process depends on the thickness and composition of the tablet’s coating. It usually takes 30 minutes to several hours for the tablets to break apart and dissolve in the stomach. Due to their hardness, tablets can be administered rectally or sublingually, which results in faster absorption.

Some of the factors that affect the absorption rates of tablets include the food eaten before administration, the pH of the stomach, and the patient’s medical condition.

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Capsules Absorption Rates

Capsules are also available in a variety of formulations such as hard gelatin, soft gelatin, and liquid-filled. Unlike tablets, capsules dissolve quickly in the stomach and get absorbed through the intestinal walls. The absorption rate of the capsules largely depends on their composition and thickness of the shell.

Capsules are usually quicker to dissolve than tablets, making them an excellent choice for time-sensitive medication. However, they can be challenging to swallow due to their size and shape. It is important to note that ingesting a capsule on an empty stomach may trigger stomach irritation in some patients.

Comparison of Absorption Rates

Overall, capsules tend to have better absorption rates than tablets due to their quick dissolution rates and the outer layer protecting the drug from the acidic environment of the stomach. However, the type of medication also plays a significant role in how quickly the body absorbs it.

In conclusion, both tablets and capsules have their pros and cons regarding absorption rates. Patients should consult with their healthcare providers about which dosage form works best for their medication needs.

How Tablets and Capsules are Taken


Tablets are generally taken orally with a glass of water. They should be swallowed whole because breaking, crushing or chewing them may alter the way the drug is released and cause side effects. Some tablets have a scored line, which is intended to make it easier to break them into smaller doses, but this should only be done if recommended by a healthcare provider. Tablets can also be taken with food or on an empty stomach, depending on the instructions provided by the doctor or pharmacist.


Capsules are taken orally with a glass of water as well, but they have a different texture than tablets. They are usually easier to swallow because they are smoother and have a tapered shape that makes them slide down the throat more easily. Capsules should also be swallowed whole because breaking, crushing or chewing them can alter the way the drug is released. However, some capsules may be opened and the contents can be sprinkled on food or mixed with liquid, but this should only be done if recommended by a healthcare provider.

It is important to follow the instructions provided by the healthcare provider or pharmacist when taking tablets or capsules. Some medications may need to be taken at a specific time of day or with certain foods or liquids. It is also important to stay informed of any potential side effects and contact a healthcare provider if any adverse reactions occur.

Effectiveness and Efficiency of Tablets and Capsules


Tablets are a popular dosage form due to their effectiveness and efficiency in delivering medication. The compressed form of tablets makes it easier for the medication to be absorbed in the body. With the use of modern technology, tablets can be formulated to be rapidly disintegrating, which is particularly useful for individuals who have difficulty swallowing. Tablets are also able to maintain potency for a longer period of time compared to other dosage forms, such as liquids or suspensions.

Furthermore, tablets offer the advantage of being easier to transport and store. As they have a compact and firm structure, tablets require less space and are less likely to be damaged during transport.


Capsules, on the other hand, are effective in delivering medication due to their faster disintegration and absorption in the body. As the medication is contained within a gelatin shell which dissolves rapidly in the stomach, the release of the medication is faster compared to tablets. Capsules also offer the advantage of being easier to swallow, particularly for individuals who have difficulty swallowing large tablets.

Capsules are also useful in cases where the medication is sensitive to moisture or light as the gelatin shells protect the medication from degradation caused by exposure to external elements. However, capsules are more susceptible to damage during transport due to their soft and flexible structure, making them more difficult to store and transport compared to tablets.

Overall, the choice of dosage form depends on the specific medication, individual patient needs and preferences. Tablets and capsules both offer unique advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered when choosing the most appropriate form of medication.

Differences in Taste and Odor of Tablets and Capsules


One of the main differences between tablets and capsules is their taste. Tablets are often made with coatings or fillers that can affect their flavor. Some people find tablets to be bitter or chalky, which can make them difficult to swallow. Capsules, on the other hand, are usually tasteless and odorless because they are made with gelatin or vegetable-based shells that do not affect the flavor of the medication inside.

Note: There are some exceptions to this, such as flavored capsules that are designed to make medication more palatable.


In addition to taste, some medications also have a distinct odor that can be noticeable when taking tablets or capsules. Tablets that are scored or designed to be broken in half may have a strong smell, especially if they contain active ingredients that are particularly pungent. Capsules, on the other hand, usually do not have a noticeable odor because the medication is contained within the shell.

In some cases, a medication may have a strong odor regardless of whether it is in tablet or capsule form. This can be due to the active ingredients or the additives included in the medication.

Ultimately, the taste and odor of a medication will depend on the specific formulation and ingredients used. For people who have difficulty swallowing tablets due to their taste or smell, capsules may be a better option. However, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

Packaging and Pricing of Tablets vs Capsules

Packaging of Tablets and Capsules

Tablets and capsules typically come in similar packaging options, such as plastic bottles or blister packs. However, capsules may also come in the form of soft gels or hard gels. Soft gel capsules are typically packaged in airtight containers to prevent oxygen and moisture exposure, while hard gel capsules may be packaged in bottles with desiccants to absorb moisture.

Pricing Comparison

In general, tablets and capsules at the same dosage and quantity will be similarly priced. However, certain factors may affect pricing for each form. For example, if a tablet contains a special coating or extended release technology, it may be priced higher than a regular tablet without these features. Capsules may also be priced higher if they contain liquid or have a special formulation, such as a probiotic blend. In addition, some consumers may find that purchasing certain supplements in capsule form is more cost-effective, as they can often be easily opened and the contents added to food or drink.

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Factors to Consider

When choosing between tablets and capsules, packaging and pricing may be important factors to consider. If you plan to take a supplement on-the-go, for example, you may prefer a tablet in a small plastic bottle. On the other hand, if you are looking for a supplement with a special formulation or are concerned about moisture exposure, a capsule may be a better option. Ultimately, choosing between tablets and capsules depends on personal preferences and individual needs.

Safety Concerns with Tablets and Capsules

Risks of Choking

One of the biggest safety concerns with tablets and capsules is the risk of choking. These forms of medication are meant to be swallowed whole but if they are not chewed properly or if they get stuck in the throat, they can cause serious health problems. This risk is especially high for people who have difficulty swallowing or who are prone to choking.

Overdose Risks

Another safety concern with tablets and capsules is the risk of overdose. It can be difficult to keep track of how many pills have been taken, especially if multiple medications are being taken at once. This can lead to accidental overdoses, which can be fatal in some cases. It is important to always follow the recommended dosage instructions and to never take more than the prescribed amount.

Allergic Reactions

Some people may also experience allergic reactions to the ingredients in tablets and capsules. This can range from mild symptoms like itching and hives to more severe reactions like anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. It is important to read the ingredient list carefully and to talk to a doctor if there is a history of allergies or if any unusual symptoms occur after taking medication.

Incompatibility with Certain Conditions

Finally, tablets and capsules may be incompatible with certain medical conditions. For example, people with esophageal strictures or narrowing of the esophagus may have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules. In these cases, alternative forms of medication should be considered, such as liquids or dissolvable pills.

Best Situations for Using Tablets vs Capsules


If you need a quick and convenient way to take medication, a tablet may be your best option. Tablets are easier to swallow than capsules since they are usually smaller and smoother. This makes them ideal for people who have trouble swallowing pills, such as children, elderly people, and those with medical conditions that affect their ability to swallow.

Tablets also come in a wider range of strengths, so they can be a good option if you need a specific dosage that is not available in a capsule form. They are also less likely to break or leak during transportation, making them a better choice for medications that are frequently traveled with or sent through the mail.


Capsules are generally easier to digest than tablets and may be a better option for those with sensitive stomachs. They are also available in a wider range of formulations, such as extended-release and enteric-coated, which can help with targeted delivery of medication.

Capsules can be a good option if you need a medication with a specific taste, as the contents can be masked with a flavored coating. Additionally, they may be easier to split or crush for those who need to adjust their dosage.

Finally, capsules can be a better option for medications that need to be absorbed quickly, as they dissolve more rapidly in the stomach than tablets.

  • In summary:
  • Tablets are easier to swallow and come in a wider range of strengths, making them a good option for those who have trouble swallowing pills or need a specific dosage.
  • Capsules are easier to digest and come in a wider range of formulations, making them a good option for those with sensitive stomachs or for targeted delivery of medication.

Questions and Answers:

What are the advantages of taking tablets over capsules?

Tablets can be easier to swallow for some people as they tend to be smaller and smoother than capsules. Tablets also tend to be more stable and less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity compared to capsules. Additionally, tablets are easier to manufacture and can be produced at a lower cost compared to capsules.

What are the disadvantages of taking tablets compared to capsules?

Tablets may not dissolve as quickly or completely as capsules, which can affect the absorption of the medication. Tablets are also more likely to contain binders, fillers, and other additives to hold the tablet together, which can cause problems for people with allergies or sensitivities. Additionally, if a tablet is scored or broken, it may alter the dose or release rate of the medication.

What are the differences between tablets and capsules?

Tablets are solid, compressed forms of medication that are usually cylindrical or disc-shaped. They can be coated or uncoated and may contain additives or flavorings. Capsules, on the other hand, are shell-like containers that are filled with medication in either solid or liquid form. Capsules can be either hard or soft, and their contents can be designed to have either immediate or extended release.


John Smith

As a male reader, I find this article quite informative. I always wondered why some medications come in tablets while others in capsules. It’s good to know the differences between the two and what are their pros and cons. Personally, I like that capsules are easier to swallow and dissolve faster than tablets, which is crucial for medications that need to work fast. On the other hand, tablets are usually cheaper and more convenient to store. Overall, I believe that it’s important to choose the type of medication based on individual needs and preferences, as there are advantages and disadvantages to both tablets and capsules.

William Johnson

I found this article very informative as it explained the differences between tablets and capsules. Personally, I prefer taking capsules as they are easier to swallow and can be opened to mix with food or drink if needed. However, tablets are often cheaper and more widely available. It’s good to know that the type of medication being taken can dictate which form is best, as some may be absorbed better in a certain form. Overall, this article has given me a better understanding of tablets and capsules and their pros and cons.

Lisa Brown

As someone who frequently takes medication, I found this article extremely helpful in understanding the differences between tablets and capsules. I appreciated the thorough explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of each form. For example, I had no idea that capsules could be easier to swallow and absorb than tablets. The comparison of the two forms provided a great overview and helped me feel more informed when choosing which form of medication to take. Overall, I found this article to be a valuable resource for anyone who regularly takes medication and is looking to make more informed choices about how they take it.