The Voynich MS is a "codex" of relatively small size, measuring 23.5 x 16.2 cm. It originally consisted of at least 116 parchment folios, of which 104 still remain. Unusually, some folios are two or three times the normal size and are folded to fit in the book. There is one large double foldout folio of six times the normal size. The MS is written in an elegant, but otherwise unknown script and almost all pages of the MS contain illustrations. The book is about 5 cm thick and has a blank limp vellum cover that does not contain any indication of age, authorship or origin.
Both the illustrations and the script of the manuscript are unique. While the script cannot be read, the illustrations are the only clue about the nature of the book. According to these illustrations, the manuscript appears to be a scientific book, mostly an illustrated herbal with some additional sections.
What is commonly called the herbal section fills about half the volume. It consists of page-filling drawings of single plants with short paragraphs of text written beside them. Occasionally, two plants are shown on a single page.
This layout is similar to that of some historical illustrated herbal manuscripts. While a few of the drawings do resemble existing plants, most of the drawings appear to be fantastic compositions.
Following is a section with astronomical and so-called cosmological drawings.
The astronomical pages feature drawings of circular design, with images of the sun, the moon and arrangements of stars. Cosmological drawings have a similar layout but include other more abstract features such as rosettas, tubes and pipes. A section of the astronomical pages (which is usually called the astrological section) has illustrations of the zodiac, surrounded by circles of mostly nude female figures holding stars.
The next apparent section of the manuscript has been called biological as it contains some odd, perhaps anatomical, drawings including pipes and tubes resembling blood vessels, together with human figures, mostly nude females, similar to the ones in the astrological section. There have been suggestions that the illustrations represent medicinal baths.
Following, there are a few more herbal pages and a different section which has been called pharmaceutical, as it includes pictures of labelled containers and many small parts of plants, mainly roots and leaves.
Finally, the manuscript closes with what has been called the recipes section.
It contains many (324) short paragraphs, each with a star in the margin (on average 15 per page). There have also been suggestions that this section represents some sort of calendar or almanac.
The images on this page show the style of the illustrations and the script used in the Voynich MS. Some characters resemble those from the roman alphabet (a, o, c, n, m), some are like numbers (2, 4, 8, 9) and others are similar to symbols used as Latin abbreviations or in alchemy in the Middle Ages. In addition there are a few instances of extraneous writing (different from the main body of the manuscript), not using the "Voynich script" and perhaps added later, such as the names of the months in the astrological section (in a Romance language notdefintely identified ) and some incomprehensible lines on the last folio.